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Forums Scheduled for Athens State House Races

Civic and political groups have scheduled several events in Athens and Oconee County over the next month for voters to hear from candidates running for two open state House of Representatives seats.

On Thursday, the Oconee County Republican Party will host three or possibly all four of the GOP candidates running for those seats. District 117 candidate Houston Gaines and District 119 candidates Tom Lord and Marcus Wiedower have confirmed they will attend, while fellow District 119 candidate Steven Strickland is trying to rearrange his schedule, according to Oconee County journalist Lee Becker. The forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce.

Jonathan Wallace, who’s running as a Democrat in District 119, will officially kick off his campaign with a rally at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Oconee County Courthouse:

‘Our community needs a representative in the State House that will be accountable to voters. I’m running to put people first, standing strong with local schools, putting teeth in state laws that protect consumers from skyrocketing auto insurance rates, and enacting policies that protect our rights and encourage economic development, with higher paying jobs and smart growth,’ said Wallace, a UGA graduate, software engineer, and father of three who has lived in the area for over 20 years. ‘I’m motivated by three key principles: service, economic opportunity, and education.  I’ll use those values to put people over politics in addressing the priorities of the voters I represent in the Georgia legislature.’

More details on Wallace’s platform and his experience as a community and business leader are available at

 The question of who represents District 119 has never been more critical, with redistricting right around the corner, increasing attacks on civil and constitutional rights by supporters of the current administration, and the need to strengthen education and workforce development in the state and the district. 

A newly formed group, the Oconee County Area Republicans, will host Lord at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the community center at Veterans Park.

All six candidates have agreed to attend an Oct. 9 forum organized by Becker and activists Sarah Bell and Russ Page at the Oconee County Library, which will give citizens a chance to question the candidates directly. District 119 candidates will take the stage at 6 p.m., while the District 117 candidates, Gaines and Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, will follow at 7:40 p.m.

The Athens-Clarke County Federation of Neighborhoods will hold another forum Oct. 23 from 6–8 p.m. at the ACC Library, where candidates will be asked questions prepared by the FoN board.

District 117 includes southwestern Clarke County, northwestern Oconee County along Epps Bridge Parkway and portions of Jackson and Barrow counties. District 119 includes most of Oconee County, as well as southeastern Clarke County.

The seats are open because Gov. Nathan Deal named District 117 Rep. Regina Quick a Superior Court judge and appointed District 119 Rep. Chuck Williams as director of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Voter registration for those races (and the T-SPLOST referendum in Clarke County) ends Oct. 10. Early voting starts Oct. 16, and Election Day is Nov. 7.