July 31 vote: What does it all mean?
Power. Who has it, and who hasn’t.
That’s what the July 31 vote results — and any election — mean.
So who has the power we the people have delegated to them for the next two to four years?
Answers to that in a second. Let’s first deal with that strange fowl, the lame duck.
Here are Fayette County’s lame ducks — elected officials still in power until Jan. 1, 2013 but forbidden or unable to exercise effective power after that date:
Sheriff — Wayne Hannah. Expect no problems here. There will be a smooth transition.
County Commission — Herb Frady, Robert Horgan and (functionally lame) Lee Hearn. Some potential for parting shots here, like shifting the once-sacrosanct money for the West Fayetteville Bypass, third phase, to the equally unappealing East Fayetteville Bypass.
Board of Education: Janet Smola, one-time Republican Terri Smith (running as a Democrat in November) and (functionally lame) appointee, Democrat Leonard Presberg. Real opportunity for lasting mischief here during the next five months. More later.
And the winners are . . .!
No matter what, power shifts are ahead for the county commission and the school board, regardless of who wins the two commission runoffs or the November Board of Education election.
The old majorities will be gone, banished to “out” status for at least one more year (for school board) and two more years for the county commission.
With Barry Marchman assured of a spot on the BoE come January, the new majority will be reinstalled Chairman Bob Todd, newly reelected Marion Key and rookie Marchman. In addition Mary Kay Bacallao, new Republican nominee, is almost certain to overcome newly uncovered Democrat Smith Nov. 6 and will become the fourth member of that new majority.
Mr. Presberg is slated to become the “1” in significant 4-to-1 votes beginning Jan. 1 next year. That will be the official end of the “throw more money at our schools, needed or not” regimes of the past 20 years.
But in the remaining five months, expect desperate Smola-Smith-Presberg attempts to raise our taxes in two ways: a new E-SPLOST education sales tax and removal by referendum of the 20-mill cap on local property taxes. Expect the same results as the recent T-SPLOST vote on both those attempts.
On the county commission, the only drama to be staged likely will be whether Commissioner Steve Brown gets elected chairman on the first or second ballot.
Whatever happens in the incumbent Lee Hearn-challenger Randy Ognio and David Barlow-Sheila Huddleston runoffs Aug. 21, the new majority will rule the commission.
That new majority consists of Brown, holdover Commissioner Allen McCarty and newly elected Charles Oddo. Ognio and Barlow will add to that majority if elected, but if not, Hearn will find himself on the losing end of many future votes, unlike his current situation.
What will Huddleston do if elected? That’s as unknown as she is an unknown candidate.
In the upset of the decade election, former deputy Barry Babb — demoted by current Sheriff Wayne Hannah nearly four years ago — will become the new sheriff in town.
Babb rode to victory on that perceived injustice. Now, will he replicate the mistake of his former boss, or will he be a magnanimous winner?
I have some unsolicited advice for Mr. Babb (whom I know and personally respect): Remember Solomon’s son.
Some lessons from the corpse of T-SPLOST:
The majority of us voters don’t trust those who represent us to spend new sources of revenue wisely.
Two things for local legislators to carry forward:
1. Ditch the penalty of voting down this political malfeasance.
2. Ditch the fashionable but fatuous new religion of regional governance and come home to that old time political religion: Home rule.
[Cal Beverly has been editor and publisher of The Citizen since its founding in February 1993.]