Even though the all-important general election day won’t be here for three more weeks, voters in Columbia County can head to the polls starting Monday.
There are no purely local races on the ballot. All of the non-partisan races were decided during the primary, as were the partisan races when no Democrats signed up to run. Several races from larger districts that include Columbia County are on the ballot, but it’s a given that most of the county’s voters will pick the Republican in those cases.
Some of the bigger decisions, then, will come at the end of the ballot, where two constitutional amendments and a local referendum await voters. Here are our suggestions:
• Amendment 1: NO.
This amendment, with its misleadingly sugar-coated preamble, is not about “school choice” or even charter schools. Instead, it is the next step toward destroying Georgia’s public schools and turning them over to private, for-profit companies channeling money to pet politicians.
If you think that’s an exaggeration, you haven’t studied the issue. The initial damage of this amendment is that it would create a separate, state-run, taxpayer-funded school system duplicating the efforts of local public schools.
We adamantly recommend voting NO on Amendment 1.
• Amendment 2: YES.
As a matter of principle, the state constitution shouldn’t be amended unless it’s an absolute necessity. Amendment 2 comes close to that standard.
This cleanup amendment allows state agencies to enter into multi-year leasing agreements. Currently, state agencies are limited to one-year leases, which in the private business world is nonsensical. The commonsense change is projected to save taxpayers $37-66 million during the next decade.
We recommend voting YES on Amendment 2.
• Special Referendum: NO
It struck many people as odd that Columbia County’s legislative delegation would approve a request from county commissioners for a referendum on term limits for commissioners without likewise including the school board.
But the school board didn’t ask for it; commissioners did. In a nutshell, while they are happy with the jobs they’re doing, they want to limit the time their successors, whoever they are, can stay in office.
That mechanism already exists: It’s called an election. It’s downright un-democratic for voters to covet the power to dictate how someone else votes, and that’s what term limits do. Even so, the referendum almost certainly will pass. If it does, lawmakers should even the score by applying similar reasoning to the school board – and to themselves.
We recommend voting NO on the Special Referendum.
To see a complete ballot for all races in Columbia County, go to www.columbiacountyga.gov and click on the “Elections” link. Study the ballot before voting – and by all means, go vote.