Runoff election for District 54 State Senate seat to be held January 10

Republican Chuck Payne, left, and nonpartisan Debby Peppers, right, are headed to a runoff election on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, for the vacant State Senate seat for District 54.

The runoff election for the recently vacated State Senate District 54 seat will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 10.

State Senate District 54 covers all of Whitfield and Murray counties and parts of Gordon and Pickens counties.

The seat was vacated by Charlie Bethel, who easily won a fourth term in November, when he was appointed just days after the election for a State Court of Appeals judgeship.

A special election between five candidates was held in early December; that election narrowed the field to two in this runoff: Republican Chuck Payne and Debby Peppers, both from Dalton.

Payne, who served in the U.S. Army in the 1/504th Airborne Infantry Battalion, is a retired juvenile probation/parole officer at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. He has served in many civic capacities in, not only Whitfield County, but the state as well. He is the former co-director at Crusaders of Faith and Freedom, former chairman of the Whitfield County Republican Party, former vice chairman of the 14th District GOP of Georgia, and former second-vice chairman of the 9th District GOP of Georgia.

“We are very thankful to our supporters and proud to have finished first in the Special Election as we now look forward to continuing our outreach among the voters of Gordon, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties,” said Payne in early December. “Now that this race has narrowed to only two, and as I have committed decades of effort to help conservative candidates in North Georgia in their elections, I am truly thankful to the voters to remain as the only Republican continuing in the race.”

“It is my hope to truly serve as representative of Northwest Georgia values in the State Senate; to remain a conservative voice of reason in serving the interests of the 54th District,” said Payne.’

Peppers, who according to her personal social media page describes her political views as aligned with the Democratic Party, used nonpartisan to describe her affiliation on her qualifying paperwork in Gordon County.

She is a former Whitfield County Board Commissioner and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Prater’s Mill Foundation and Cherokee Estates. She is a member of the Dalton area League of Women Voters and serves as a member of the Juvenile Court’s judicial panel. While serving on the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners in the late 1990’s, the county implemented its first zoning and animal control ordinance and initiated the process of expanding water throughout Whitfield County while accumulating a surplus budget.

“The runoff is a good thing and a bad thing,” said Peppers at the time of the special election. “The plus side is we are down from five candidates to two, so voters can take their time to do their research and be well-informed. The downside is, it comes at a bad time. I hate that the runoff is going to be held over the holidays. We have had so much election this year and people do not realize the election is not over. They want to move on to celebrating the holidays.”

Peppers is running on being a voice for the people of the district. “The average person feels that politicians are crooked and that they don’t have a voice in Atlanta,” said Peppers. “I want to represent the people; I want them to know they can call me and I will hear them.”

The Gordon County precincts of Sonoraville, Red Bud, Pine Chapel, Oakman, Fairmount and parts of Resaca are the ones that encompass parts of District 54, and polls will open tomorrow at 7 a.m. and remain open until 7 p.m. for eligible voters in these precincts.

For more information call the Gordon County Board of Elections and Voter Registration Office at 706-629-7781.