published Monday, July 4th, 2011

Shaw files to challenge Heiskell in 2012

by Andy Johns
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A retired LaFayette, Ga., doctor says he’s filed paperwork and launched a website to challenge Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell in the 2012 election.

And if he wins, Paul Shaw said, he plans to let county residents decide if they want to keep a single commissioner or go to a five-person board.

A sole commissioner is “really an outdated system,” he said.

Georgia is the only state that allows sole commissioners and only a handful of counties — including Walker, Chattooga and Murray — use the system.

Shaw, who retired in 2010 after 30 years of practicing medicine, admits he’s “no expert in government,” but said there are many things that concern him about the way the county is being run.

Transparency and competitive bids would be keys to his administration if he were to win, he said.

“Right now, the county doesn’t take competitive bids, and that bothers me,” he said. “We have no openness now for public records.”

Shaw also pledged to keep taxes low and said he would support term limits on the office.

“I’m really not interested in making that a career,” he said.

Shaw served as a major with the U.S. Army in Operation Desert Storm and has been a member of the Walker County Board of Health and the Barwick-LaFayette Airport Board, according to his website

Heiskell said she has no plans to step aside and held a campaign fundraiser last week. She said opposition is “healthy” and would keep her on her toes, but said Shaw has a lot to learn.

“There’s a lot he just hasn’t found out yet, but he will,” she said.

Heiskell objected to Shaw’s claims that her office has not been open. She said his criticism about bids comes from her decision to make big-ticket purchases such as vehicles through existing state contracts, which saves thousands for the county.

“I have never seen anybody running for office who didn’t say they want open government,” the commissioner said. “I think mine is and always has [been].”

She believes residents are happy with a sole commissioner and said one person is more efficient than a board.

“All I have ever heard is that they are satisfied with the sole commissioner government,” Heiskell said.

Voters will have plenty of time to make their decisions, because the two will not appear on the ballots until November 2012.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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