Huffmaster asked the candidates about whether they support the county-manager form of government. Incumbent Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Goss said, at this point, he does support the system.
“You’ve got to have someone in charge on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
His opponent, retired Spalding County Fire Chief Chipper Gardner, also supports it.
“Spalding County is a vibrant and growing community and it requires a lot of direct oversight in day-to-day operations,” Gardner said.
Torre Daniell, who is competing with former Griffin-Spalding County Board of Education Chairman Raymond Ray for the seat of outgoing Board of Commissioners member Dave Phillips, said the county-manager system is the best form of county government. However, he said the commissioners need to hold the manager accountable, since the county manager is an appointed official and is less accountable to the public.
Ray said he supports the county-manager form of government. He blamed the current Board of Commissioners for the controversies accompanying the departure of former Spalding County Manager William Wilson Jr.
Huffmaster also asked about the 800 MHz radio system.
Daniell said the system is a concern for him. He said the existing radio system would lose signal power and would need to be replaced.
“Unfortunately, the 800 MHz system has become a political football,” Goss said.
He said the system is not and will not be perfect. However, he said it will be better than the current system.
Ray blamed county mismanagement and making 800 MHz consultant Stephen Macke accountable only to the Board of Commissioners chairman and not the county manager for the problems with the system.
Gardner said using two vendors and not one might have made things work better. He said he has received contradictory reports on how well the system works.
The candidates also spoke about the senior center. Ray said the Carver Road site was cost-prohibitive but the Elks Lodge could be a good site for the center. Daniell said money that should have been used to help fund the senior center, such as money from the sale of the former site of the Spalding County Parks & Recreation Department, should be removed from the general fund and put in an account to fund the relocation. Goss said there were many alternatives, including the Cook’s Shopping Center and the Elks building. Gardner said construction should have already begun with the senior center, since the seniors worked hard to get the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax passed.