From same-sex marriage to impact fees for developers, Columbia County voters were able to voice their opinion on more than just candidates Tuesday.
Both the county's Republican and Democratic parties added straw-poll lists on ballots during the primary elections.
And the results offer a wealth of information, party leaders said, about how to push for some of the policy changes that the non-binding referendum questions posed.
The 21,658 voters who picked up a Republican ballot were faced with nine poll questions, while the 2,851 residents who chose Democratic ballots had the opportunity to answer 10 different questions.
Columbia County Republican Party Chairman Lee Muns said party workers are now combing through the results, not only to see the final numbers but to look at precinct-level returns to see what parts of the county were in favor or opposed to a particular issues, especially concerning land around Lake Thurmond and implementing foreign language in elementary schools.
County Democratic Party Chairman Terry Holley said he thought it was interesting that 2,361, or 86 percent of respondents, were in favor of imposing impact fees on developers.
"From what I gather, it's a good cause to take up, particularly with some of the projects that are going on right now," he said. "People are ready for the county to do something about that."
County Democrats and Republicans fielded differently worded questions about whether to add foreign language instruction in public elementary schools.
Republicans approved the non-binding referendum question while Democrats nixed the idea.
But Columbia County Schools Superintendent Tommy Price said the numbers are misleading because of the way the two different questions were worded.
When Democrats were asked if they would agree to a 1.5 mill property tax increase to fund a foreign language program, 1,644 responded no compared to 1,097 who voted in favor.
The Republican ballot did not include wording about a tax increase as part of its question. It simply asked if voters would like to have the program. It passed by an almost 2-to-1 margin with 13,457 in favor and 7,132 against.
"I don't think (that) there it is a question of whether or not people want foreign language instruction. They do," Price said. "The question is how to pay for it?"
PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS:
REPUBLICAN PARTY QUESTIONS
1. Are you in favor of a United States constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages? YES (84 percent) or NO (16 percent)?
2. Are you in favor of the Columbia County Board of Education moving forward with implementation of foreign language instruction in elementary grades K-5? YES (65 percent) or NO (35 percent)?
3. Are you in favor of abolishing the current internal revenue service tax code and replace it with a national sales tax? YES (77 percent) or NO (23 percent)?
4. Do you feel that controlled private purchase and development of United States Army Corps of Engineers' property around Lake Thurmond should be allowed? YES (50 percent) or NO (50 percent)?
5. Would you support a change in the Georgia constitution to allow for a discount to be offered for early payment on property taxes? YES (78 percent) or NO (22 percent)?
6. Are you satisfied with the current school calendar being used by the Columbia County Board of Education? YES (69 percent) or NO (31 percent)?
7. In the event that Richmond County does not build a new civic center would you be in favor of building a civic center in Columbia County funded by a combination of money from special purpose local option sales tax, the issuance of bonds and/or financial participation by private investors? YES (60 percent) or NO (40 percent)?
8. Would you like to see restriction of zip codes within county lines? YES (58 percent) or NO (42 percent)?
9. Do you believe there should be term limits for United States congressmen and senators? YES (77 percent) or NO (23 percent)?
DEMOCRATIC PARTY QUESTIONS
1. Are you in favor of an approximate 1.5 mill increase in your ad valorem property tax for the purpose of adding foreign language instruction in the public elementary schools of Columbia County? YES (40 percent) or NO (60 percent)?
2. To lessen the burden on property owners, should development impact fees be imposed on builders and developers? YES (86 percent) or NO (14 percent)?
3. Should seats on the Planning and Zoning Board be filled by general elections? YES (84 percent) or NO (16 percent)?
4. The Georgia Legislature has not given educators a raise within the last two years. Should Columbia County add at least a cost of living raise to the supplement already paid in those years in which there is no increase paid? YES (78 percent) or NO (22 percent)?
5. Should Columbia County institute a residential recycling plan? YES (82 percent) or NO (18 percent)?
6. Should the mayors of Harlem and Grovetown be seated, non-voting members of the County Commission? YES (52 percent) or NO (48 percent)?
7. Should public safety services, in particular fire protection, be provided for residents without an increase in the tax millage rate? YES (85 percent) or NO (15 percent)?
8. Are you in favor of changing the Georgia State Constitution to allow for empowering an at large elected chairman of the Columbia County Board of Education? YES (55 percent) or NO (45 percent)?
9. Should all appointed members of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which regulates the standards of certified teaching personnel have at least a four year degree? YES (88 percent) or NO (12 percent)?
10. Should all monies received from confiscated items during drug arrests go into the sheriff's general fund rather than into the sheriff's discretionary account? YES (78 percent) or NO (22 percent)?
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