Community News Walker County GOP calls for change in local government

Community News Walker County GOP calls for change in local government

August 12th, 2016 by Tyler Jett in Community Walker

Shannon Whitfield, right, hugs John Logan upon arriving at the party thrown for him on primary election night back in May, when Whitfield beat opponent Mike Peardon for his party's nomination.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Bebe Heiskell plans to run for her fifth term as Walker County commissioner in November, but this time as an independent. Of the Republican Party, which has historically backed her, she said previously, "I haven't had a whole lot of luck with them. They want a more radically conservative candidate than I am."

Bebe Heiskell plans to run for her fifth...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The Walker County Republican Party is calling for a binding vote to change the structure of the local government.

During a meeting July 19, members of the party passed a resolution telling local Georgia representatives and a senator to write a local act in the Legislature next year to create a binding referendum. The referendum would ask voters if they want to switch Walker County's form of government from that of a sole commissioner to that of a board of commissioners.

If state Rep. John Deffenbaugh, R-Lookout Mountain, state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, and state Rep. Steve Tarvin, R-Chickamauga, pass a local act in Atlanta next year, the Republican Party is asking for the question to be on the ballot in 2018. That is when the next scheduled countywide race will take place.

The local Republican Party passed the resolution after the issue came up in a non-binding referendum on May 24. Seventy-five percent of the 5,985 voters said they wanted the form of government to change.

"The Walker County Republican Party County Committee views the result of the ballot question on the form of Walker County government on May 24, 2016, as a mandate by Republican voters in Walker County to advocate for a binding referendum," the resolution reads.

Shannon Whitfield, the Republican nominee, asked for the party to pass the resolution.

"People have lost confidence and trust in the sole commissioner form of government because we've not had transparency and accountability for a long time from the [Bebe] Heiskell administration," Whitfield said in a statement. "The citizens of Walker County want a board of commissioners, and they are looking for Shannon Whitfield to be the last sole commissioner of Walker County."

Heiskell could not be reached last Thursday for comment.

In November, Whitfield will face Heiskell and Perry Lamb in the general election for the commissioner's seat. Lamb and Heiskell are running as independents.

Lamb has said he also supports changing the county's form of government. Heiskell has said she supports the change if that's what people want, though she is personally against a board of commissioners.