Athens lawyer Bill Overend announced today that he's running for the Athens-Clarke County Commission District 7 seat, representing part of Five Points and Macon Highway.
Overend—a former Flagpole staffer who ran for ACC Solicitor General in 2006 and has served as chairman of the ACC Democratic Committee and on the Athens Downtown Development Authority board—said that he believes the local government doesn't do enough to anticipate challenges or act to solve them, rather than endlessly studying the issue.
The full text of his announcement is below:
Deborah Gonzalez, newly elected to represent Georgia House District 117, began 2018 with $11,466 in her campaign account; and Jonathan Wallace, newly elected to represent Georgia House District 119, began the year with $11,639 in unspent campaign funds.
Gonzalez and Wallace are Democrats. Both the 117th and 119th House Districts are split between Oconee and Clarke counties.
Republican Houston Gaines, who lost to Gonzalez in the special election in November of 2017, had $96,863 in unspent campaign funds at the end of 2017.
Oconee County voters turned out in big numbers on election day, with a plurality picking Democrat Jonathan Wallace to represent voters in Georgia House District 119 and a majority picking Houston Gaines to represent voters in Georgia House District 117.
Wallace won strongly in the Clarke County part of the evenly split 119th District, ending with 56.7 percent of the votes in the unofficial tally—enough to avoid a runoff on Dec. 5.
Democrat Deborah Gonzalez dominated voting in Clarke County, giving her 53.1 percent of the votes in the 117th, which, in addition to Clarke County and Oconee County, includes parts of Barrow and Jackson counties.
Democrats won shocking victories in two special elections for Athens-area state House seats on Tuesday, winning the conservative-leaning seats in spite of well-funded opposition from Republicans.
In District 117, Deborah Gonzalez overcame Republican opponent Houston Gaines' $200,000 war chest and much-publicized support from Democratic Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson.
As of 9 p.m., Gonzalez led Gaines 53 percent to 47 percent, with some Clarke County precincts left to be counted, but all the votes in staunchly Republican Oconee, Jackson and Barrow counties have been counted, leaving Gaines no chance to catch up.
Likewise, with all Oconee precincts reporting, Jonathan Wallace avoided a runoff by winning 56percent of the vote in District 119, which historically leans even further to the right than 117. (Both districts were specifically drawn to elect Republicans.)
Photo Credit: Sarah Bell
In individual sessions held with the Oconee County Area Republicans in recent weeks, the three Republican candidates in the special election on Tuesday for Georgia House District 119 have shown rather different characteristics.
Tom Lord took few firm stands in a session with a small number of Republicans gathered on Sept. 30, using the 50 minutes given him instead to get feedback and suggestions from those who turned out to meet him. He focused on his trustworthiness and his conservative values.
Steven Strickland was given less than 40 minutes on Oct. 19, and he used his time to make the case that his technological expertise would serve the state well. He defended his assertion that government should play a role in infrastructure development and stressed the need to help rural Georgia.
Marcus Wiedower was energetic is his nearly 45 minutes with the group on Nov. 2, talking about his personal life, including his love of sports, and his accessibility. He repeated his pledge not to raise taxes and his complaint that the state has bowed to pressure from the film industry in not defending religious liberty.
Republican Houston Gaines had raised nearly $200,000 as of last week for his Athens-area House District 117 race, outpacing Democratic opponent Deborah Gonzalez nearly four-to-one.
In documents filed Monday with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, Gaines reported raising $196, 251 and had $140,436 on hand as of Oct. 23, 15 days before Election Day, Nov. 7.
It's a common strategy for candidates with such overwhelming fundraising advantages to keep some of their powder dry to ward off future challengers.
Gaines' list of contributors is a Who's Who of powerful, connected Republican politicians and business interests in Athens and Atlanta.
In Monday's Federation of Neighborhoods candidate forum, Republican Houston Gaines kept referring to the "unique perspective" he'd bring to the state House of Representatives.
One would think that Gaines, who just graduated from the University of Georgia in May, was referring to his youth. When Flagpole intern Nate Harris asked him what made him unique, though, Gaines' answer was anything but clear.
After much hemming and hawing, Gaines at one point said, "It's obvious just by looking at us that we have a different perspective."
Photo Credit: Nate Harris
With the Nov. 7 special election drawing nearer, the candidates for state House districts 117 and 119 met Monday night for one final forum, organized by the Athens-Clarke County Federation of Neighborhoods at the ACC Library.
Candidates running in both districts responded to prepared questions from a Federation representative; much to the disappointment of both attendees and some of the candidates, they did not field questions from the audience, nor did they debate the topics.
Republican Houston Gaines and Democrat Deborah Gonzalez took to the stage first, starting out with their legislative priorities. For Gaines, that includes fostering business and economic growth while addressing education and transportation issues; for Gonzalez, improvements to education and public health, she said, would lead to improvements in other areas as well, including crime and mass incarceration.
Houston Gaines, running to replace Republican Regina Quick, who stepped down in August as representative from Georgia House District 117, had a warning for the Oconee County Republicans who attended the party’s meeting in late September.
“We’ve got to work hard to keep this seat,” Gaines said of the 117th, which is dominated by Clarke County but includes parts of Oconee, Barrow and Jackson counties as well.
Ed Perkins, vice chair of the Oconee County GOP, underscored the importance to Oconee County Republicans of what Gaines had said.
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