Stephens Co. Commission Candidates Gather At Political Forum

Candidates for Stephens County Commission gather to talk about the issues in advance of next month’s primary election.

Thursday, AM 630 WNEG and the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce hosted a political forum at the Schaefer Center in downtown Toccoa.

The forum featured the candidates for Posts 1, 4, and 5 on the Stephens County Commission.

All of the candidates are running as Republicans.

The candidates discussed a number of issues.

Economic development was at the top of the list.

Post 1 incumbent Michelle Grafton said infrastructure improvements need to be at the top of the list, especially in commercial corridors like the Toccoa By-pass.

“Through the years, we met with hotel chains that would love to locate here, but there is no sewer for them,” she said.

Grafton went on to note that when people stay elsewhere, they spend their money elsewhere.

Her opponent, Ralph Stowe, also talked about infrastructure, and said the city and county need to work together.

“We need to get together with them and figure out the goals we need to set to get companies to come here,” said Stowe, who added that the county needs to find out what the industries want and need to come here.

Post 4 incumbent Stanley London said the main focus needs to be on sustainable economic growth.

“Not always is the big home run the one you want in your community,” said London.

His challenger, Jonesy Haygood, also pointed to things like sewer development and said achieving growth will take a countywide effort.

“We all have to work together and develop a plan of bringing business into the county,” said Haygood.

Post 5 incumbent Dean Scarborough said a team effort will also be needed.

He cited workforce development and infrastructure as things the county needs to focus on, along with the county’s industrial facilities.

“We need to increase the attention we give to the facilities that we have available, whether they be existing facilities or the facilities at our industrial park,” said Scarborough.

Scarborough is facing challenger Charles “Chuck” Wright.

Wright could not be in attendance for the forum, but did submit a statement that was read by moderator Lee Hicks.

In that statement read by Hicks, Wright said economic development is an important issue.

“I am committed to achieving economic development in Stephens County and working with local and state leaders to help create jobs,” said Wright.

The candidates also talked about the land use, with the candidates agreeing that the land use ordinance will need to be reviewed and watched to see how it takes effect.

All of the candidates also said they do not believe the county can cut its budget any further, noting that the county has cut down to the bare bones already.

Another political forum in advance of the May primary takes place next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Schaefer Center.

Next week’s forum is scheduled to include candidates for Stephens County Board of Education, 28th District Georgia House of Representatives, and 9th District U.S. House of Representatives.