Vote

The vote is over for most of this year's contested ballot in Polk County, but a pair of candidates will be continuing until Dec. 5, when a run-off is planned to decide who will take over the District 6 seat permanently.

The Board of Elections reported that the first Tuesday in December will be the upcoming run-off election day, and only for voter in the School Board's District 6 in the Rockmart area.

Elections officials don't know yet if early voting will be possible due to the short amount of time ahead of the upcoming run-off, but are reviewing options with the state.

More information will be forthcoming about the run-off as it becomes available.

In the Tuesday special election in Rockmart, Judy Wiggins and Chris Culver drew the most votes out of the hundreds who participated. Wiggins drew in 42 percent of the vote and Culver nearly 39 percent, with Carolyn Williams coming in third place with 18 percent of the ballots.

Wiggins, who has been serving in an interim capacity on the board, didn't gain the 50 percent plus 1 vote majority she needed to take the seat outright, and will now have to face Culver again in the run-off.

"I was very pleased with the results last night, and I'm excited about the chance to continue to talk to voters in District 6," Wiggins said. "I'm tickled I have some more time to serve on the board, as I have since August. I hope to see a lot of the voters come back out, and I know it is a tiny election, but it is critically important as we finally put someone in the seat to represent district 6 for the school board."

She added that "I really hope I get to continue in this seat and serve the citizens of District 6."

Culver offered his congratulations to both Wiggins and Williams for conducting a tight race and a great campaign.

"It was an exciting night, and the voters turned out. I thought the turnout was great, and we anticipated fewer voters. It shows they are concerned and want to put the right person in office," Culver said. "I've asked my supporters to go back one more time to the polls, to go to work for me one more time so I can go to work for you for the next three years."

He added that "I look forward to another month of working toward getting this position."

The campaign is over for the Cedartown City Commission, with a pair of incumbents and a political newcomer taking the trio of seats that were up in this year's municipal election.

Commissioner Matt Foster said that he was thankful for the voters for giving him a second term in office and to continue on a track of growth in Cedartown.

"The people of Cedartown se the positive progress that has been made and is being made, and in this election, the voters affirmed that our city is on the right course," Foster said. "I am humbled and grateful or their support, and I look forward to continuing to work on their behalf."

Political newcomer Jessica Brewster Payton took third place in the race, garnering more than 28 percent of the vote as a political newcomer to both local politics and now the Cedartown City Commission. She said that she expects to work hard in the first years to do her best to live up to the voter's wishes for Cedartown.

"I've been excited about the direction Cedartown has been headed the last few years, and I'm grateful that the people of Cedartown have elected me to be a part of the positive progress I already see happening," Payton said.

Commissioner Jordan Hubbard additionally thanked the voters for giving him a second term as well. 

"I've said it a thousand times: we have a solid plan, a great group of employees and we're going to continue our path," Hubbard said. "We haven't used the TAN, and we are being more self-sufficient. I'm excited about the direction we're heading as a community, and am glad I can continue to to be a part of all the wonderful work going on."

Foster took just slightly over 31 percent of the vote in Cedartown, with Hubbard close behind at 29.56 percent and Payton gaining 28.16 percent of the total 1,424 voters. Patrick McNally earned just 11.1 percent of the ballots.

Also gaining a great amount of support locally to extend on in the coming years is the Education-only Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax fund's extension through 2026.

Superintendent Laurie Atkins said that she was "so thrilled the community supported us in the E-SPLOST effort."

"We feel this will give us the opportunity to continue our plan to enhance and make instructional programs stronger for our students," Atkins said.

The first work to do as the school system gets ready for another round of construction projects at Cedartown and Rockmart High Schools is to find an architect and construction manager to do the work, and to also put together a bond proposal and sale.

With the list of projects already prioritized, the plans currently are to start with the Fine Arts addition at Cedartown High, and the Agriculture Education addition at Rockmart High, Atkins said.

Much of the work following will be in upgrades and repairs to all of the schools in the system in some capacity, but a lot of the maintenance work will focus on heating and air units at the schools.

The school district plans to fund the various phases of construction through bond sales to be paid back by the SPLOST proceeds, and that those sales will be pending, likely in 2018.