The Insider warned voters a few weeks ago that the upcoming May 22 races across both Richmond and Columbia counties could get pretty ugly.
But no race seems to be having supporters of each candidate at one another’s throats more than the three-way race for chair of the Columbia County Commission.
The candidates in this race include sitting Columbia County Commissioner Doug Duncan, former EMA director Pam Tucker and local builder Mark Herbert.
Now, Herbert seems to be avoiding most of the chaos, but Tucker and Duncan are in a heated battle that soon could draw blood.
About two weeks ago, critics of Tucker blasted her campaign for sponsoring a blood drive involving the local nonprofit organization Shepeard Community Blood Center.
It turns out federal regulations prohibit nonprofits from engaging in “political activities,” so Tucker’s camp couldn’t sponsor any such event.
Next, Tucker was criticized for converting her former Pam Tucker EMA page, which she personally created and on which she had more than 9,600 followers, to the “Pam Tucker for Commission Chair 2018” Facebook page.
Some of Duncan’s supporters felt that was extremely deceiving to voters.
Well, folks, it appears this campaign season is just getting started.
This past week, Tucker has decided to come out swinging against her critics, but she might be hurting her image more than helping it.
Specifically, she questioned Columbia County Fire Chief Jeremy Wallen’s actions after she discovered that he agreed to drive Duncan, a sitting commissioner, around to the county’s fire stations a few weeks ago.
Now, Duncan has every right to ask any department head to give him a tour of their operations.
He’s an elected official.
But Tucker suggested that Duncan was touring the fire stations as a candidate for commission chair and not a sitting commissioner from District 1.
As a result, she sent Wallen a text asking whether he would drive her around to all the fire stations.
Needless to say, that wasn’t going to happen.
Wallen responded by telling Tucker that he wanted to remain “apolitical” during the election season.
He insisted that he drove both Duncan and sitting Commissioner Gary Richardson around to the fire stations in recent weeks to review equipment needs within the department.
Now, whether that is the truth or not, Tucker is definitely barking up the wrong tree.
Clearly, it would be a conflict for Wallen to drive her around to all the fire stations to review the department’s operations and equipment.
But considering Duncan is still voting on matters involving the fire department on a regular basis, he has every right to tour the facilities.
Of course, supporters of Tucker are saying that Duncan is abusing his power as a sitting commissioner and trying to garner support from the county’s firefighters.
Well, Tucker was the EMA director for Columbia County for 18 years.
She had all the time in the world to gain the support and friendship of firefighters throughout the county.
She doesn’t need to take a tour.
If she’s as good as an EMA director as she has claimed to be in the past, the firefighters should be lined up out the door ready to vote for her.
So, why is she so worried?
Here is The Insider’s advice to Tucker: “Let it go.”
Tucker’s real concern should be the political endorsements that Duncan has received this week.
On Monday, Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones publicly endorsed Duncan in the race for Columbia County Commission chair.
While he did it very politely and praised all of the candidates in the race, it was definitely a blow to Tucker’s camp.
“I planned to remain neutral on the Columbia County Commission Chairman election, but after much thought and many conversations with constituents, I feel that I should voice my opinion,” Jones wrote this past week. “All three candidates are what I would consider friends. I’ve dealt with Pam Tucker over the years during her tenure as the EMA Director. She has always been a strong voice and extremely well-versed in that arena. Mark Herbert has always been a strong supporter of the Grovetown Public Safety Dept. and the City.”
But, despite those warm feelings expressed by Jones, Tucker and Herbert were left out in the cold.
“Lastly, candidate Doug Duncan … Doug is well connected throughout Columbia County. He is doing a great job as a Columbia County Commissioner and as such, he will be able to Chair his first meeting without having to spend months or longer, learning Parliamentary Procedure to run the meetings,” Jones wrote. “Trust me, this is important. He is up to speed already on all County projects, the budget, department heads and the internal functions of daily business. I was sworn in office as the Mayor of Grovetown in January 2016, and everyone is aware what I walked into. The Columbia County Commissioners, including Doug Duncan, offered support and encouragement during some tough times.”
“I have no doubt that Commissioner Duncan will work with the cities of Grovetown and Harlem if elected as Chairman,” Jones added. “Let me re-emphasize, this post is in no way intended to bash any candidate, but we all have opinions and I owe my constituent’s mine. I support Doug Duncan as Chairman for the Columbia County Commission, and I encourage voters in Grovetown to consider doing the same.”
Well, for someone who planned on remaining neutral in this race, Jones definitely stated his opinion loud and clear.
Of course, Tucker quickly posted a response to Jones’ endorsement of Duncan on her Facebook page.
“I would like to say that no matter who Mayor Jones is supporting, I plan to take care of the citizens of Grovetown and make sure that you and all cities and townships across this county are treated equally, fairly, and get the best service possible in every way,” she wrote. “I look forward to working together with Mayor Jones for the citizens of Grovetown.”
Later in the day, a robo call from Duncan’s camp to Tucker seemed to rub more salt in her wounds.
“Doug Duncan robo called us just now,” Tucker posted. “Claiming endorsements from Gov. Deal, Sheriff Whittle and Gary Jones.”
Tucker’s supporters are saying that it’s simply the good ol’ boys who are working against her.
Well, if the “good ol’ boys” are the sheriff, the mayor of Grovetown and the governor of Georgia, that’s a pretty strong club working against Tucker.
She may need to step up her game.