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Time to change election process
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Forsyth County News
The operational efficiency of any political structure is best determined by the competencies and quality of the politicians elected to office over a period of time, not the logistics of the structure itself.

That said, there are certain governmental systems that improve the electorate’s chances of selecting the best possible candidates on election day. In a fast growth county like Forsyth, it is essential to have in place a governmental foundation that maximizes the potential for bringing the best representatives into office.

Currently, members of the Forsyth County Commission and the county’s school board are required to seek election from the specific district in which they live. They are not, however, voted on solely by district, but instead face the voters in countywide elections.

Legislation introduced last week by members of the county’s delegation to the state’s General Assembly would change that electoral process so that the necessity of running countywide is eliminated. With the proposed change, which still must win legislative approval, representatives to both the county commission and school board will be chosen only by the voters in the districts they represent.

We think the change is a good one. It would put the county in line with the governmental structure of virtually all of Georgia’s largest counties. Of 22 counties with more than 100,000 population, only two have a governmental system similar to ours.

The existing system allows pockets of dense and rapid population growth to have a skewed position of power in determining the outcome of county elections. When there are as many votes to be had in 2 square miles of one part of the county as there are in 15 square miles of another, where are candidates going to spend their time, and to whom are they going to be answerable?

Requiring countywide campaigning for political office also imposes a heavy financial burden on potential candidates, which in turn increases the likelihood that they will go into office beholden to high dollar financial contributors. Electing candidates by district will make the campaigns more manageable in terms of both money and time.

There also is a lot to be gained by having public office holders elected by those living closest to them who know them best. Too often voters in the county are asked to cast ballots for candidates about whom they know little.

In straw polls conducted in conjunction with last year’s primaries, voters in the county showed strong support for a governmental change. We applaud the legislative delegation for moving forward with the plan and hope to see its approval.