Melvin Davis and Chuck Horton to Face Off in Race for Board of Commissioners Chair
Melvin Davis on Wednesday announced a bid for a fourth term as Chairman of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners. Declared opponent Post 4 Commissioner Chuck Horton responded, "Let's tee it up and go."
UPDATE: On May 21, Sarah Bell announced she'll run for Post 1, a seat currently held by Jim Luke. Luke has said he'll run for re-election.
Editor's Note: Sarah Bell has also indicated she'll run again for the seat, information which was mistakenly left off of the original article. It has since been added.
For 12 years, Melvin Davis has served as chairman of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, and Wednesday he announced that he'll run for another four-year term.
"A lot of work has gone into getting us where we are today, even prior to my term as Commission chairman," he said. "We’re seeing the fruits of a lot of work, and I feel like this is a tremendous opportunity to continue the efforts in this direction."
That direction, Davis said, involves careful planning that accounts for water resources and transportation issues while maintaining fiscal responsibility.
"A county like we have in the position that we’re in, the expectations of the public are quite high," he said. "[Citizens] want good value for their dollar, and I think we’ve provided that with our budget as well as with the quality services we offer."
With the impending voluntary early retirements of Administrative Officer Alan Theriault, County Clerk Gina Lindsey Hansford and others, Davis said maintaining as much stability and continuity as possible in the county government is "imperative." He said he'll seek out replacement staff members that will be "responsive to our citizens, well versed, well trained."
In his role as the 2011-2012 president of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, Davis said he solidified positive relationships with state officials. He also worked closely with fellow commissioners and other local, regional, and state leaders to help bring Caterpillar and Epps Bridge Centre shopping mall to the Oconee area.
Still, Davis recognizes he has critics.
"In the role that I have, you aren’t going to please everyone with every decision," he said. "What I hope is that we can sit down and talk about the issues and attempt to come to an understanding. I think that’s the type of person I am and the person I’ll continue to be."
One outspoken critic is opponent and current Post 4 Commissioner Chuck Horton, who says he hasn't wavered on his plans to run for the chairman seat since he first announced in 2010. Horton said Davis called to inform him of the decision to seek re-election.
"Let's tee it up and go," Horton said. "Bottom line is, he and I are two very different candidates. I am much more open and transparent than him. Just look at the record."
Horton, who serves on the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Board, said Davis hasn't always included commissioners in all issues and "if Oconee County is always going to work to be better, we can't be two separate governments."
Davis remarked, "Communication is a two-way street. I think I have always shared, in the past, information. I like to consider myself as being positive, and I'm going to stay positive and focus on past accomplishments and continued progress in the future."
"We'll deal with the issues, and our system is the voters will decide," Horton said.
But Horton is not the only person planning to run against Davis. Sarah Bell, who lost to Davis in 2008 by about 100 votes, has also said she's likely going to give it another try.
Candidate qualifying takes place next week May 23-25.
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