From Oconee Observations
RE: Candidates Forum, University of North Georgia, Thursday, Oct 4

Fran Thompson and Andrea Wellnitz, seeking spots on the Oconee County Board of Education, told a packed room of citizens gathered for a candidate forum on Thursday night that they want the Board to be more transparent and more open to citizen input.

Incumbents Kim Argo and Amy Parrish said the Board already is transparent and open to citizens ideas and feedback and they want to make sure the community understands that.

The exchange among Republicans Argo and Parrish and Democrats Thompson and Wellnitz was a largely cordial affair. At one point, Thompson even said, “I actually like all four of us.”

Only slightly less genial was the exchange that followed between incumbent Republican Bill Cowsert and Democrat Marisue Hilliard in the 46th Senate District contest. All of Oconee County is in the 46th, which also includes parts of Walton and Clarke counties.

Considerably less cordial in their comments at the forum organized by The Oconee Enterprise were Democrat Deborah Gonzalez and Republican challenger Houston Gaines in the 117th House District contest, which includes parts of Oconee County.

Gaines was on the attack from his introduction to the end of the forum hosted by the University of North Georgia and stood out among the four legislative candidates by not voicing opposition to a campus carry law passed by the General Assembly last year.

Gaines refused to take a stand for or against repeal of campus carry.

Jonathan Wallace, incumbent Democratic representative from the 119th House District, and Republican challenger Marcus Wiedower did not attend the forum. Those parts of Oconee County not in the 117th are in the 119th House District.

For more on the story, with a video of the forum, please go to
Oconee County Observations