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GOP calls off debate Wednesday for District 24 state House runoff candidates

THE GRIND: Pinecrest Academy's John Crone

By: Joshua Sutton

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Early voting set


Forsyth County’s elections board has established the dates and times for early voting in the July 14 runoff election for the District 24 seat in the state House of Representatives.

The first week of early voting would run from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. June 29 to July 2, a Thursday, at the Forsyth County Administration Building in downtown Cumming.

No Friday voting would be held that week due to county offices being closed for the July Fourth holiday.

The second week would be held at the administration building and the Midway Park Community Building, 5100 Post Road in west Forsyth, though hours would vary by the day.

From July 6-9, voting would be open from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. On July 10, however, the hours would be 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

Polls wouldn’t be open on a Saturday during early voting, nor is that a requirement for a runoff election.

Factoring into the decision, officials said, were financial concerns and the face July Fourth falls on a Saturday this year.


-- Kelly Whitmire

FORSYTH COUNTY — A debate Wednesday between the two remaining candidates for the District 24 seat in the state House of Representatives has been canceled.

Jason Mock, chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party, said Tuesday he and other officials called off the event after just one candidate attended a meeting Saturday.

“We looked at it from a couple standpoints,” Mock said. “At the last debate, on June 6, I made an announcement that stated that we’d like to invite the top two candidates to the monthly GOP meeting on June 20 to talk about why they’re running.

“That was last Saturday and we only had one candidate appear at that meeting.”

Sheri Gilligan, a former CIA analyst who now teaches at Lanier Technical College, and local attorney David Van Sant were the top two vote-getters in the June 16 special election. Gilligan received about 49.9 percent of votes, with Van Sant about 24.5 percent.

To take the four-candidate, all-Republican race outright, Gilligan needed 50 percent of the vote plus one.

The winner in July will fill the vacancy left by longtime incumbent Mark Hamilton, who stepped down last month to relocate to Tennessee for a job. About 18 months remain in the term.

The district spans Cumming and parts of north and west Forsyth and includes parts of six precincts: Coal Mountain, Cumming, Midway, Heardsville, Otwell and Polo. Early voting for the runoff opens June 29.

Mock said that it wasn’t an easy decision to scrap the debate, but that doing so in advance was preferable.

“I didn’t want the candidates, the party or the community to come to a debate with potentially only one candidate or no candidates,” he said.

Instead, Mock said, the party will let the candidates continue to campaign, while the party begins preparations for next year’s presidential election.

“Our main focus after the [runoff] election will be having a presence at the July Fourth Parade [in Cumming] and continue to gather the support and get out the vote for 2016,” Mock said. “We’ll continue to gather strong republicans that are ready to go the polls in 2016 to vote for their presidential candidate.”