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Early voting began Oct. 15. Here's what's on the ballot
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Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, was the first day of early voting in the 2018 general election, which features the governor’s race along with other local and state races. - photo by Scott Rogers

Early voting starts Oct. 15 in the 2018 general election, which features the governor’s race along with other local and state races. Election Day is Nov. 6. Here’s a preview of the candidates who will appear in contested races at the local, state and federal level to represent Hall County residents. 

Ballot and registration information is available at the Secretary of State and Hall County Elections websites. For previews of each local race and more election information, visit gainesvilletimes.com/election2018.

Early voting

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday Oct. 15-Nov. 2

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

Saturday early voting

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27

Where: Hall County Government Center; East Hall Community Center, 3911 P Davidson Road, Gainesville; North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Road, Gainesville; Spout Springs library, 6488 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch

Election Day

When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 6

Where: Your polling precinct

Here’s a preview of the candidates who will appear in contested races at the local, state and federal level to represent Hall County residents. Ballot and registration information will be available at the Secretary of State and Hall County Elections websites as the election date nears. The Times will preview each local race in a series of articles that will begin publishing Oct. 7.

Governor
Read candidates' stances on the issues
U.S. House, 9th District

Collins is an attorney and took office in 2013 to represent what is one of the most conservative districts in the country. McCall is a teacher in Gainesville making his first run for public office. Read the story.

State House, District 29

Dubnik first took office in 2017 and runs a Gainesville marketing firm with his wife, Katie Dubnik. Stead is a retired physician. Read the story.

State House, District 30

Dunahoo first took office in late 2011 and works in the poultry industry. Watkins is a graduate of Brenau University and is circulation director with the Forsyth County News, a sister publication of The Times. Read the story.

Hall County Board of Commissioners, District 1
  • Kathy Cooper, R (incumbent)

  • Michael W. Parker, D

Cooper has run a cattle, egg and Christmas tree farm off of Union Church Road for more than 30 years with her husband. She first took office in 2014. Parker is a retired resident of Flowery Branch. Read the story.

Hall County Board of Education, at-large
  • Bill Thompson, R (incumbent)

  • Stephanie Lopez, D

Thompson has been on the board for more than five years and worked in the county school system as a teacher and principal for 32 years. Lopez works in customer service and lives in Flowery Branch. Read the story.

Hall County Board of Education, Post 2

Pettitt is a 2016 graduate of the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus, a United Parcel Service supervisor and chairman of the Hall County Library System Board of Trustees. Wallace is a father of four, including one attending a Hall County school. He worked with the New York and Atlanta police departments and is now a security officer at a private boarding school in Sandy Springs. Read the story.

Other statewide races

Lieutenant Governor

Secretary Of State

Attorney General

Commissioner of Agriculture

Commissioner of Insurance
State School Superintendent

Commissioner of Labor

Public Service Commission, District 3

Public Service Commission, District 5

Amendments, referendums

Amendment 1: Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act

Question: Without increasing the current state sales tax rate, shall the Constitution of Georgia amended so as to create the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund to conserve lands that protect drinking water sources and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; to protect and conserve forests, fish, wildlife habitats, and state and local parks; and to provide opportunities for our children and families to play and enjoy the outdoors, by dedicating, subject to full public disclosure, up to 80 percent of the existing sales tax collected by sporting goods stores to such purposes without increasing the current state sales tax rate?

What it means: If it passes, up to 80 percent of sales taxes collected by sportings goods stores would go to the “protection and preservation of conservation land,” according to the secretary of state’s website.

Amendment 2: State business court

Question: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to create a state-wide business court, authorize superior court business court divisions, and allow for the appointment process for state-wide business court judges in order to lower costs, improve the efficiency of all courts, and promote predictability of judicial outcomes in certain complex business disputes for the benefit of all citizens of this state?

What it means: If parties to a lawsuit agree, a case could be removed from the judicial circuit’s Superior Court to a new statewide business court. Judges for this court would serve five-year terms by appointment of the governor. They can be reappointed for any number of consecutive terms, according to the resolution. A Metro Atlanta Business Court oversees cases in Fulton and Gwinnett counties. According to the business court’s 2016 data, half of the cases were closed within 12 months of transferring to business court.

Amendment 3: Forest land fair market value

Question: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to revise provisions related to the subclassification for tax purposes of and the prescribed methodology for establishing the value of forest land conservation use property and related assistance grants, to provide that assistance grants related to forest land conservation use property may be increased by general law for a five-year period and that up to 5 percent of assistance grants may be deducted and retained by the state revenue commissioner to provide for certain state administrative costs, and to provide for the subclassification of qualified timberland property for ad valorem taxation purposes?

What it means: The amendment would create a new class for ad valorem taxation known as “qualified timberland property,” which “includes only tangible real property” primarily used for growing trees, according to House Resolution 51. The Georgia Forestry Association said it would increase the acres “eligible for conservation under the Forest Land Protection Act.” Currently, land protected by the act must be 200 contiguous acres. This change would allow it to be “an aggregate of 200 acres across the state” if there are 100 acre parcels in any county, according to the forestry association.

Amendment 4: Marsy’s Law, crime victims’ rights

Question: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide certain rights to victims against whom a crime has allegedly been perpetrated and allow victims to assert such rights?

What it means: The law would give crime victims certain constitutionally protected rights, including timely notification of court proceedings and the right “to be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea or sentencing of the accused,” according to Senate Resolution 146. The Georgia General Assembly would also create a process for a family member or guardian to “assert the rights of such victim” when the victim is a minor, legally incapacitated or dead.

Amendment 5: County sales tax referendum for school district/districts

Question:  Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize a referendum for a sales and use tax for education by a county school district or an independent school district or districts within the county having a majority of the students enrolled within the county and to provide that the proceeds are distributed on a per student basis among all the school systems unless an agreement is reached among such school systems for a different distribution?

What it means: If passed, school systems with the majority of students enrolled in a county could call for a referendum without needing approval from all school systems. The funds would then be issued on a per student basis among all school systems inside the county unless another distribution agreement is reached between the school systems. According to Senate Resolution 95, the per student distribution formula would be based on the latest “full-time equivalent count” prior to the tax referendum. Read the story.

Referendum A: Homestead exemption 

Question: Do you approve a new homestead exemption in a municipal corporation that is located in more than one county, that levies a sales tax for the purposes of a metropolitan area system of public transportation, and that has within its boundaries an independent school system, from ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in the amount of the difference between the current year assessed value of a home and the adjusted base year value, provided that the lowest base year value will be adjusted yearly by 2.6 percent?

What it means: This would create an ad valorem tax homestead exemption that meets all of the requirements listed in the referendum. If approved, the act would take effect Jan. 1.

Referendum B: Tax exemption for nonprofit homes serving mentally disabled

Question: Shall the Act be approved which provides an exemption from ad valorem taxes on nonprofit homes for the mentally disabled if they include business corporations in the ownership structure for financing purposes? 

What it means: Similar to the first referendum, this ad valorem tax exemption would affect nonprofit homes serving the mentally disabled. According to the secretary of state’s website, it would make it clear that the exemption applies “even when financing for construction or renovation of the homes is provided by a business corporation or other entity.”

Special Election for Hall County

Question: Sunday Brunch Alcohol Sales (Vote for One) "Shall the governing authority of Hall County, Georgia be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits, or alcoholic beverages for beverage purposes by the drink from 11:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M.?" Read the story.

Special Election for Flowery Branch

City Council, Post 3

An election to fill the seat held by Fred Richards, who died June 14.

  • Leslie Jarchow
  • Christine Worl

Compiled by Keith Albertson, Shannon Casas and Nick Watson

Regional events