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Democrats poll purchase
Nonbinding question to gauge what people think
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Forsyth County News

Should Forsyth County buy Lanier Golf Course to be operated as a public golf facility?

It’s a question that’s been discussed by candidates, county officials and residents. But now local Democrats will get a chance to voice their opinion on the issue during the July 20 primary election.

“We wanted to know what people think,” said Forsyth County Democratic Party Chairwoman Ricia Maxie. “We all recognized that at this point it’s a commission issue, but I think that the people have been feeling like they haven’t been clearly heard.”

The question in reference to the 172-acre tract off Buford Dam Road in east Forsyth will appear on all Democratic Primary ballots in the county.

Long a heated topic in the county, the course issue has simmered since a purchase proposal surfaced this winter.

Commissioners have not made a decision on the plan, which calls for the county buy the site for $12 million and then lease it for 99 years to a company that would maintain and operate it as a golf course.

This won’t be the first time the Democratic ballot has featured the golf course question.

The 2008 primary ballot asked if the county should take over the course through the green space bond and operate it as a public facility.

About 1,078, or nearly 75 percent, of Democratic voters supported the idea.

Maxie said she’s not sure what the results will be this year, given the current economy.

With the Democratic Party being the minority in Forsyth, ballot results are not likely a broad representation of the overall county’s views.

Republican Party Chairman Ethan Underwood said his party opted not to ask the question this year.

“We have good Republicans on both sides of that issue,” he said. “The purpose of a ballot question is to give guidance where elected officials don’t necessarily have that.

“We just didn’t feel that there were any issues that necessitated that kind of ballot question this year, particularly with the golf course ... we don’t feel that ballot questions should be used by political parties to drum up issues, it ought to be the other way around.”

The question is nonbonding, meaning regardless of the results, no action is required. But parties are free to ask questions during the primary election, which can reflect constituent opinion.

During the 2008 election, Republicans asked five questions, including if voters supported paramount right to life, school vouchers and the Fair Tax Act, which would eliminate property taxes.

While the golf course issue has been making headlines this year, Maxie said she feels as if voters haven’t been heard.

“We wanted to have something that just seemed to be applicable to the entire county and not just that one district,” she said.