When Fort Oglethorpe residents Mather Verner and his wife Chris Major-Verner showed up at City Hall to vote the evening of Nov. 5, Major-Verner said she still wasn’t sure who she would vote for.

“When I saw people standing outside with signs, I was impressed with their dedication and that helped me decide,” she said shortly after casting her ballot.

“My grandfather never voted,” said Verner, a Navy veteran from a family with a long history of military service. “He was always whining about politicians. One day, my mama asked him, ‘Daddy, did you vote?’ He said no and she told him to stop complaining.”

The election is now over and the votes counted. Fort Oglethorpe’s mayor, Earl Gray will serve another four years, as will council members Rhonda James and Derek Rogers.

Of 5,794 active registered voters in Fort Oglethorpe, under 800 voted.

Gray won reelection with 71% of the vote — 523 ballots cast in his favor. His opponent, Louis Hamm, received 215 votes, 29% of the total.

“I’m honored,” says Gray, “that citizens have enough confidence in me to give me another four years. As mayor, I hope I can make a difference and leave things better than I found them.”

James, who represents Ward 1, received 432 votes, 58% of the total. Her opponent, Melissa Jacks, received 312 votes for 42% of the total.

“I appreciate everyone’s support,” says James. “I look forward to the next four years. I hope the community will get involved and come to council meetings.”

Rogers, who represents Ward 4, ran unopposed and received 668 votes.

There were 28 write-in votes in Fort Oglethorpe: 11 for mayor, four for Ward 1 and 13 for Ward 4.

Fort Oglethorpe Elections Manager Tammy Raley said voting went smoothly and people liked the new voting machines and seemed to enjoy looking over their paper ballots before sliding them into the scanner.

On the age-income tax referendum that offered the option for Catoosa County residents who meet certain age and income criteria to be exempt from school taxes, of 42,046 eligible voters in the county, 3,848 voted. The referendum passed with 3,592 votes — just over 93% of the total. 256 people voted against the referendum.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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