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Special election taking shape

Posted: May 20, 2014 - 11:15pm  |  Updated: May 21, 2014 - 12:18am

Since I am writing this on Monday, deadlines as they are, I have no idea how Tuesday’s elections turned out. Anything I could write at this point would be pure speculation, and likely very wrong to boot.

That being the case, I thought it would be best to look ahead to a future election – the special election to fill the unexpired terms of Tax Commissioner and Commission District 3, recently vacated by Kay and Charles Allen.

The most recent entry into the tax commissioner’s race, is former Gold Cross EMS CEO Tom Schneider, who filed his declaration of intent paperwork on Monday. Schneider, who retired from Gold Cross a couple of years ago, has more than a passing grasp of property tax issues, having served on the Board of Tax Assessors for close to 25 years, where he’s currently the chairman.

Schneider said he is exploring the idea of running, but has “some thinking and praying to do” before qualifying starts on June 23. If he does qualify, he’ll be up against a couple of other candidates, Wayne Bridges and Chris Vintson.

Bridges, who served on the school board for 12 years, said he has been looking for an opportunity to return to public service in a way that fits well with his vocation – he’s been a CPA since 1982. Bridges isn’t the least bit intimidated by numbers, but admitted “they don’t always tell you what you want them to.”

Vintson, is a great deal lesser know candidate, unless you are familiar with him from Fatts Cafe, where he said he has worked since being laid off from an engineering job with Lockwood Green. He has a background in computer and electrical engineering, but said he has grown to enjoy restaurant work because of his interactions with the public.

He describes himself as a Navy veterean who has “worked and lived all over the U.S. I’ve had over 50 jobs.”

Vintson said he originally intended to run for the District 1 commission seat, but missed the deadline to qualify. He intends to submit a “pauper’s affidavit” to qualify to tax commissioner.

As for Dwight Johnson, Kay Allen’s former deputy, who was dismissed in October, his talk of running for that office has gone silent. Nevertheless, he and any others still have time to declare before qualifying rolls around.

Meanwhile, the field of candidates keeps growing.

It has already been reported that two men were interested in the District 3 commission seat, Brett McGuire and Mack Taylor. Both men filed their intent notices in March. McGuire, a retired plant manager, has tried many times, but hasn’t been able to land an elected office. He last ran against Ron Cross for the chairman’s seat in 2009 and was defeated by a 6 percent margin.

Taylor, a lawyer in private practice, is a political newcomer, but is known as a former assistant district attorney.

The two have been joined recently by two more men also seeking that open commission seat.

Suriya “Bobby” Gagnon has been in the insurance business for the past 17 years, much of that spent on the road meeting with clients across the southeast. Gagnon, a former baseball player with Augusta College, said he has always been interested in public service, but it wasn’t until the last year or so when his work life change enough to allow it.

“I just believe in this community,” he said.

Zollie “Trip” Derryberry III also said timing was an issue for him in pursuing public office, but now he’s ready. The co-owner of Reliable Equipment Rental on Washington Road said the county has been blessed with good leadership, so there hasn’t been an urgent need for change. He wants to continue the tradition.

“This county is not broken. It is a great place to live,” he said.

Indeed. When people such as these are willing to step forward and take on the burden of public office, it is hard to argue that point.

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