Columbia County's Board of Commissioners is made up of five people who were elected as members of the Republican Party.
But their biggest issue of the past year is one that in this past week's election proved more popular with Democrats.
With the smallest turnout in more than 20 years, the July 18 primary election in Columbia County is difficult to analyze. The numbers are so small that it's hard to draw any conclusive trends from them.
Still, it is interesting to note that in the three ballot questions regarding consolidation - two on the Republican ballot, one on the Democrat ballot - voters approved the idea in just one precinct on one Republican question, while the one question on the Democrats' ballot met approval in 10 precincts with two others splitting it 50-50.
There are 46 precincts in the county, plus absentee ballots and early votes that are counted as a single precinct. So, in 94 opportunities (two questions for each precinct) for Republicans to express their opinion on their elected leaders' biggest issue of the past year, just one agreed with it.
The lone winning precinct for the issue was Savannah Rapids, where voters approved the first Republican question with 56 percent agreeing with incorporating and consolidating all of the unincorporated areas of the county. The same precinct rejected the second GOP question - asking about county consolidation with Harlem and Grovetown - by an equal margin.
The Savannah Rapids precinct also was one of those 10 in which Democrat voters approved consolidation, by a percentage roughly equal to their GOP counterparts. The question also found favor among Democrat voters in the nearby precincts of Gospel Water Branch Baptist Church and Stevens Creek Community Church, along with seven others all in the Martinez-Evans area.
Incidentally, the most anti-consolidation voters were, as expected, in the district of the only commissioner who has voted against the issue: Lee Anderson. Anderson first voted to study consolidation, and later voted against it after getting an earful from his constituents.
That, in part, also explains why he was re-elected this past week, without opposition.
While Anderson's re-election is no mystery, there is one lingering bit of intrigue from the primary.
No one has come forward to lay claim to some odd campaign signs that were placed near a few of the county's precincts. Topped with the old Georgia flag - the one featuring the Confederate Battle Flag - the signs said "Vote for Ron Cross."
Cross' name was printed in block letters on a piece of paper that was taped over the name originally printed on the cardboard sign: Randy Hall.
If you recall, Republican Hall was defeated for re-election to the state Senate in 2004 in a truly nasty campaign run by Democrat J.B. Powell. Powell forged an odd alliance of white "flaggers," upset by Hall's vote to change to the current Georgia flag, with black Democrats voting on traditional party lines.
While Powell's supporters were whipping up the flaggers to oppose Hall for voting against the flag, those same folks were putting up signs in the black community making it appear Hall was FOR the flag.
Who put up the altered signs in Columbia County? No one has admitted it, and at least one flagger denies any knowledge of it. More importantly, why? What on earth did they expect the signs to do - insinuate the flaggers supported Cross (most I know didn't)? Or to make anti-flaggers think they did?
Either way, it has to be the goofiest attempt at either support or opposition that I've ever seen.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.