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Candidates address AARP group
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AARP member Dottie Sorrells looks over a map to find out what district she will vote in. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Members of the Forsyth County AARP heard Friday from many hopefuls for local office, including sheriff, commission and Georgia Senate.

The candidates spoke to the group for a few minutes each about themselves and their plans if elected.

AARP members also discussed the fact the three commission posts up for election will be chosen by district for the first time, rather than countywide.

The July 31 primary and subsequent runoff on Aug. 21, if necessary, likely will decide those posts, as all the candidates who qualified to run are Republicans.

Charles Meagher, who’s seeking the District 4 post on the Forsyth County commission, told the crowd at Golden Corral restaurant in Cumming that he’s got much in common with them.

Pointing to his gray hair and retirement, he joked that he wouldn’t hold his opponents’ “youth and inexperience against them.”

“I have years of experience in teamwork and team leading,” Meagher said of his time spent working in education and two terms on the Duluth City Council.

Meagher is one of five candidates vying for the post, which represents most of north Forsyth.

Incumbent Patrick Bell said “results are what I’ve brought” to the county in his first term.

He discussed his work on cutting expenses in the budget, and his plans to continue keeping property taxes low.

In Forsyth, people 65 and older are exempt from school taxes, so the county rates should be of interest to the group, Bell said.

Challenger Tim Hubbard touted his plans to encourage cooperation among the commissioners and bringing a personal touch to the position.

“I don’t want you to e-mail me,” Hubbard said. “I want to see you face to face.”

He added that he’ll watch the taxpayers’ money the way he watches his own, which “has been very tight.”

Also running in District 4, Cindy Jones Mills spoke about her love for the community and her time spent volunteering, especially with youth at her church.

Mills said she knows in her heart that she wants to serve the people as a commissioner, adding “your concerns are my concerns.”

Bill Mulrooney, also a District 4 candidate, discussed the importance of bringing more jobs to the community and achieving water independence.

He also said his belief in the nation’s founding principles led him, a typical guy, to campaign in hopes of serving for no more than two terms.

“We need responsible and ethical representation for the homeowners of District 4,” Mulrooney said.

In the county’s southern District 2, both incumbent Brian Tam and challenger Dennis Brown addressed AARP members.

Brown said he’s hoping to serve his constituency as a full-time commissioner, since he’s retired from a military career.

“Renewing America doesn’t start in Washington, it starts right here locally,” Brown said. “I have a servant’s heart, and I’ve always served. That’s why I wanted to run.”

He stressed he would represent the people “fairly and ethically” and always keep an open line of communication.

Tam discussed county amenities he had initiated in the areas of education, recreation and public safety, which he noted are “why someone chooses a community.”

He cited as examples the green space parks, Sexton Hall Enrichment Center for seniors and early warning weather sirens in south Forsyth that have been added during his two terms in office.

“I’ve worked hard to represent the county,” Tam said.

Scott Padis, who also qualified for the District 2 election, did not attend the event.

For eastern District 5, Jim Boff spoke to the group on his plans to follow tea party ideals and continue to reduce “ridiculous spending” to the goal of zero.

Boff added that’s he’s an AARP member and retired, unlike his opponent, who is a business owner.

John Derucki, who is challenging Boff, was not present.

Aside from commission candidates, the AARP heard from Duane Piper and Steve Voshall.

Piper, one of three candidates for sheriff, told the group he retired recently for the purpose of seeking the office.

“We can actually improve the services that we provide to you, and we can do it for less money,” Piper said. “We’ll do that by focusing on service, which is the purpose of this position.”

Piper is facing Sheriff Ted Paxton and Lauren McDonald, neither of whom was there.

Voshall is the lone challenger to incumbent state Sen. Jack Murphy, who represents the 27th district.

The founder of the Forsyth County Tea Party, who has since resigned his post to campaign, said he has been “horrified” with some of the choices of the incumbent.

“I want to bring ethics, honesty and integrity to our state Senate seat,” Voshall said. “I want to represent all the people of this county and not the special interests of a few.”

Murphy was not at the meeting.