The race for Columbia County Commission chairman will be decided in two days.
Voters will have a choice to make between incumbent Chairman Ron Cross, a Republican, and political newcomer John Hayes, also a Republican.
Because no one else has contested the race from the Democrat or Independent side, the winner of Tuesday's primary election will advance to the November general election unopposed and headed to victory.
In the weeks leading up to the primary, the two candidates have debated publicly and differed on such issues as consolidation, with Cross in favor of the idea and Hayes opposing it.
Hayes, an insurance claims representative, has said in past debates that if elected he would reach out to the county's two cities, Harlem and Grovetown, and work toward having "value-added" growth in the county.
Hayes said Wednesday that he is leading a grass-roots campaign and wants to be the next commission chairman because he is "basically wanting to just represent the people, everybody of Columbia County. This is a representative that will listen to each citizen of Columbia County, and I'm just passionate about people.''
Cross, a retired general contractor for CCI Construction Corp., has said the county commission is always willing to listen to anyone. He said Wednesday that if re-elected, he would continue what he says has been a good commission record in the past four years.
"We've done a lot of good things in the last four years and I think we've got some more that will be coming up,'' he said.
In the race for the commission's District 1 seat, which is being vacated by Steve Brown, banker Ron Thigpen has qualified as a Republican. Columbia County Democratic Party Chairman Scott Nichols has qualified for the seat on the Democratic side. The two will be unopposed in the primary to represent their party; Thigpen and Mr. Nichols will square off in the general election.
The final candidate for a commission seat is incumbent Lee Anderson for District 4. He has no Republican, Democratic or Independent challengers.
In Grovetown, three candidates also will be vying to fill the city council seat vacated by Marjorie Adams, who died in February from complications from a December stroke.
Sonny McDowell, Dick Manion and Barry Davis will square off in the nonpartisan special election Tuesday to complete the term, which expires Dec. 31, 2007.
McDowell, a jail and prison equipment contractor and vice president of Southern Detention Distributors Inc., has served on numerous boards in the Myrtle Beach area, and as president of the Martinez-Evans Rotary Club and chairman of the Augusta-area Rotary Council. Manion is a retired Army colonel who returned to Grovetown more than a year ago after four years in Florida.
Davis, a mortgage banker with Wachovia who has lived in Grovetown for 13 years, is a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Augusta and is a member of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Debbie Marshall, Columbia County's Board of Elections director, said polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
She said she is expecting between a 20 percent and 25 percent voter turnout.
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