published Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Georgia voters speak out on liquor, libraries

Lawrence Hayes votes in North Georgia at the Boynton Precinct on Tuesday.
Lawrence Hayes votes in North Georgia at the Boynton Precinct on Tuesday.
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Walker County

• Allow liquor by the drink at restaurants in unincorporated areas of the county?

Yes

• Increase the property tax to fund the Walker County libraries?

No

Dade County

• Six-year renewal of special purpose local option sales tax:

Yes

Democratic straw poll questions:

• Shall Dade County government provide additional funding to keep the Dade County Library open a full 45-hour week?

Yes

• Shall Dade County government, the city of Trenton and the Dade County School Board share responsibility for funding the library?

Yes

Catoosa County

Republican straw poll questions:

• Should county school board races be partisan?

Yes

• Should school board races be held in November?

Yes

• Should the school superintendent be elected directly by voters?

Yes

Whitfield County

Democratic straw poll questions:

• Should the state legalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older?

Yes

• Should the state of Georgia repeal HB 87, which authorizes police to demand papers demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops?

Yes

Walker County voters like the idea of liquor by the drink — and library supporters may need to down a stiff one after Tuesday’s primary election.

Voters approved liquor by the drink at restaurants in unincorporated areas of the county by 56 percent, according to the unofficial final tally. Meanwhile, they rejected by 53 percent a proposed quarter-cent property tax increase that would have roughly doubled the library’s revenue from $158,000 annually now to between $300,000 to $350,000, allowing the county’s three libraries to increase the hours they’re open.

“I’m trying to look on the bright side,” Cherokee Regional Library System Director Lecia Eubanks said. “It’s not the outcome that we had hoped for, and I know our library users are going to be disappointed.”

In spirit, Dade County Democrats strongly supported the library system, which has a branch in the county seat, Trenton. Roughly 74 percent of that county’s Democrats thought the county should provide additional library funding on a straw poll question, according to early results.

While that vote was non-binding, Dade County voters did back the library. Early results showed that voters of both parties overwhelmingly approved a six-year renewal of a one-cent special purpose local option sales tax to be used for $13.6 million in improvements including fixing up the county library and purchasing public safety vehicles.

Republican voters in Catoosa County strongly supported three nonbinding straw poll questions posed there. They feel that county school board races should be partisan, should be held in November, and the school superintendent should be elected directly by voters.

Catoosa County also has a new county commissioner.

Challenger Ray Johnson unseated incumbent Dewayne Hill to represent District 4, the largest commission district that takes up all of eastern Catoosa County. Johnson, a longtime firefighter, campaigned to improve public safety in the district, which he called “very secluded.”

The Whitfield County Democratic Party had the highest-profile straw poll question. Democrats there overwhelmingly liked the idea of legalizing up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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