Written and submitted by: Gilmer GOP – Reece Sanford
On November 3 rd , 2020, Americans will go to the polls to vote for the President of the United States.
Election Day is an event that has occurred every four years in our nation since the first Presidential
election in the winter of 1788-1789. Through world wars, pandemics, civil unrest, recessions,
depressions, and even the Civil War, Americans have gone to the polls every four years to elect a
national leader. After so many elections, it might be easy to view this event as routine as the changing of
the seasons. However, we should not take the right to vote for granted. Our Founding Fathers revolted
over “taxation without representation.” They understood the importance of having influence over those
who governed them. Throughout time and history, millions, perhaps billions, of people have not had a
say in their government. But in America, every citizen regardless of gender, race, religion, education, or
income has a right to select their representatives. This right should not be taken lightly. As the human
rights activist Loung Ung once said, “Voting is not only our right – it is our power.”
This summer I read “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” by Daron
Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. The book theorizes that a nation is on the path to failure when its
political institutions fail to include large groups of the nation’s people. When the politics of the nation
are controlled by the elite, then inevitably the economic institutions will eventually cater to the elite at
the expense of those who are excluded from the nation’s politics. When politics exclude the average
person, eventually the elite, whether they be nobles or simply bureaucrats, will use their power to take
economic resources from the common man. This taking is called economic extraction. Economic
extraction has played out time and time again throughout history. Today, the US is exceptional because
it has been the most politically inclusive nation in the history of the world. As time has passed, the
nation has become more and more inclusive. When people are permitted to participate in their nation’s
politics, they will find themselves able to succeed economically. If you can count on the government to
protect your property rights, you can have confidence to take economic risks. This form of government
is why the US has found so much economic success. We are truly blessed to live in a nation like America.
While everyone has a right to vote in America, not everyone exercises that right. A vote is a horrible
thing to waste. A vote gives you a voice, but when you choose not to vote, you choose to silence
yourself. History has shown how the powerful can abuse the voiceless. Our Founding Fathers revolted
from a nation with a poor history of protecting the weak from the powerful. For centuries, English
peasants were the majority population, but they found themselves voiceless and defenseless against the
powerful English royals and nobles. The common people suffered under centuries of high taxes and
flimsy at best property rights. Without a doubt, English peasants suffered from economic extraction.
This system was forced upon them by a government empowered by force, not democracy. These people
would have held the right to vote in great esteem, but their political system was not inclusive. If millions
of people choose not to vote, our political systems become exclusive by choice. If you do not vote, you
are unable to ensure that your elected officials represent your best interests. If this happens, you too
could experience economic extraction.
If elected, Joe Biden and the Democrats will practice economic extraction and make our political system
less inclusive. Mr. Biden’s economic plan calls for a radical increase in corporate taxes and dividend
taxes. In many cases, the combined effect will be the government laying claim to 56 cents of a dollar of
profit earned. You need to understand that taxation is not creation. New money is not created when the
government taxes. They are simply taking a dollar from your pocket and placing it in their pocket. They
do this because they believe they can spend that dollar more efficiently than you can. This is economic
The Democrats will not stop at economic extraction. They will move to practice political exclusion. For
years, Democrats have expressed their desire to abolish the Electoral College in favor of a nationwide
popular vote. Our Founding Fathers opposed a nationwide popular vote because they understood that
the Electoral College was the only way to protect the voice of citizens in small town America. If a
nationwide popular vote determined the President, a candidate could strictly campaign to the major
population centers in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, and San Diego. The
population is so large in these cities that the people in these metropolises could determine an election
on their own. If this were the case, politicians would cater to these communities and ignore the needs of
small towns across the country. If the Electoral College were abolished, small town America would lose
its voice. If small town America lost its voice, how much more economic extraction would we face?
This election is very important. Do not think that you are just one person in a nation of 329 million
people. Your one vote has more value than you think. In America, we effectively do not have a national
Presidential election. Truly, the Electoral College is the sum of 50 statewide elections. Electoral votes
represent points earned across 50 statewide elections. Realizing this, Georgia’s conservatives must focus
on the outcome in Georgia. We cannot fall into the trap of believing that Georgia is a lock for President
Trump. For the past decade, Georgia’s elections have been trending in the wrong direction for
Republicans. Early in the 2010s, Republicans could count on 53% of the vote in Georgia. Nathan Deal
(2010 and 2014), Mitt Romney (2012), and David Perdue (2014) all won 53% of the vote across the State
of Georgia. This was a sharp drop off from the 2006 Governor’s race where Sonny Perdue won 58% of
the vote. By 2016, the gap had closed even more. Four years ago, President Trump won Georgia with
only 50.4% of the vote. In the 2018 Governor’s race, the election was even closer. Brian Kemp won the
Governor’s Mansion with only 50.2% of the vote, with a winning margin of just 54,723 votes. In Gilmer,
Fannin, Pickens, Dawson, Lumpkin, and Union Counties alone, Governor Kemp received 60,117 votes. In
each of these counties, he received at least 79% of votes cast. Kemp won similar amounts of the vote
throughout the counties that make up the 9 th and 14 th Congressional districts – the rural north Georgia
districts. Conversely, Fulton and Dekalb Counties alone cast a combined 567,991 votes for Stacey
Abrams representing 30% of her total votes. To overcome the Atlanta vote and prevent the Democrats
from overtaking Georgia, it is going to take the combined efforts of every small town in this state.
Sadly, Georgia has become a battleground state. If people in rural north Georgia stay at home, Georgia
is an attainable victory for any Democrat. This year’s election is projected to be very close. If President
Trump loses the Peach State, Georgia’s sixteen electoral college votes very well could be the reason he
loses the election. Moreover, we have two US Senate seats currently held by Republicans up for election
this year. Republicans have a slim majority in the US Senate but losing the two Georgia seats could hand
the Senate to the Democrats. It is possible that the State of Georgia could hand control of the White
House and the US Senate to the Democrats. North Georgia, we cannot let that happen.
It is my hope that you understand how important it is that you vote this year. You do not need to stop
there though. Once you vote, you need to make sure your friends and family vote. North Georgia
conservatives need to realize that a Republican victory in Georgia is no longer a given. Do not assume
everyone votes. We must be more active as our counties could very well decide who governs our
country for the next four years. Our community must have a strong voter turnout. Early voting will last
until October 30 th . Saturday voting is on October 24 th . If you would like to vote by mail, you must apply
for your ballot by October 30 th . This should be done as soon as possible and can be done online or
through the mail. Finally, in person voting on Election Day will take place on November 3 rd from 7 AM to
7 PM at your assigned polling station. To find your polling station, please visit mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do.
Please share this information with your friends. Voter turnout in our community could determine this election.
The Gilmer County Republican Party is ready and willing to help you feel comfortable voting this year. Should
you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the party through our website or Facebook page.
This year, our nation is given a choice between the party of freedom and the party of economic
extraction. Elections are determined by those who show up. North Georgia, can we count on you to
show up for Republicans this fall? God Bless!
Chairman of The Gilmer Trump Campaign, a subcommittee of the Gilmer County Republican Party
Reece Sanford, CFA is the Chairman of The Gilmer Trump Campaign, Assistant Secretary –
Communications of the Gilmer County Republican Party, and a native of Ellijay, GA. He holds a BBA in
Finance from The University of Georgia and an MBA from Kennesaw State University. Mr. Sanford also
holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. He is a career community banker currently
working in small business lending. He has served on the boards of several non-profits throughout north
Georgia. He has served as Youth Engagement Director of the Gilmer County Republican Party, holds an
advisory role with a trade association Political Action Committee, and has consulted on multiple political
campaigns. He and his wife, Kerri Ann, enjoy spending their free time exploring north Georgia, running,
traveling, and cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are strictly those of the author. They do not necessarily
reflect the views of the Republican Party, its members, any other organization the author may be
associated with, nor his family members.
The Lumpkin Co. Indians defeated the Gilmer Bobcats and the White Co. Warriors to advance to the Region 7-3A semifinals. The Indians won both matches 2-0 in the tournament that was hosted at White Co. high school.
The 5th seed Indians played the 4th seed Bobcats in the first round of the region tournament. The first set started off with the teams trading scores. Neither team gained any separation on the scoreboard until Lumpkin Co. used a 7-0 run to take a 15-7 lead. The remainder of the set remained close at Lumpkin won 25-20. The second set went similarly to the first. It started off close with Lumpkin gaining an 8-7 advantage before the Indians won 17 of the final 22 volleys to win the set 25-12 and the match 2-0.
After advancing to the next round, the Indians faced off against the top-seeded White Co. Warriors. The entire match had an intense playoff atmosphere as both teams scored back and forth. A 5-0 run by the Indians helped give them an 18-12 lead that they held onto to win the set 25-20. The second set was even more tightly contested than the first. A 5-0 run halfway through the set gave Lumpkin Co. an 11-5 lead. However, the Warriors fought hard and clawed their way back to make it a 21-20 game in favor of the Indians. After excellent volleys by both teams, Lumpkin Co. held on to win the set 25-23 and the match 2-0.
With the win, the Indians advanced to the Region 7-3A semifinals, where they will face Cherokee Bluff at 4 p.m. tomorrow at White Co. high school.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – Twelve Commission Chairmen from North Georgia counties have joined together and signed a letter asking Governor Brian Kemp to shut down the State Parks.
“It appears that these nonresidents believe our area is a safe haven because of its rural nature. To the contrary, the influx of people into our communities has had a staggering detrimental effect on our resources,” the letter to Kemp read in part.
The letter goes on to outline the resources in our area that have been affected by the out-of-towners looking to seclude themselves, including in these resources are food, dry goods and fuel.
It goes on to inform Kemp that our area is not equipped medically: “Our communities simply do not have enough hospital beds or medical personnel to care for the inflated population.”
Though only serving as a commissioner for a little over three months, Habersham County Commissioner District 5 Tim Stamey felt he needed to be proactive in bringing a solution to this problem: “I am a retired special operator and we don’t sit around talking about things, we get it done.”
Stamey who sits on the County Health Board said, “I’m on the County Health Board and talk to Healthcare workers in my county on a daily basis. They are the heros/heroines in all this. This virus does not spread itself on the wind.”
Moccasin Creek State Park, situated just North of Unicoi State park has been “crazy, 4th of July crazy” for the past three weekends according to Stamey, who has witnessed the impact on his county first hand.
Stamey initially contacted Rabun County Chairman Greg James and White County Chairman Travis Turner.
“I started this by just trying to get border counties on board,” Stamey said and added, “Then Chairmen were like well, did you call such and such, I know they feel the same way. It just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Stamey said that all Commission Chairmen were helpful, on board, and taking the matter seriously: “I talked to most of them several times and for up to an hour each time.”
Stamey, along with the 12 county chairmen and many residents, is hoping that this letter will get the attention of Kemp. The letter in closing states: “On behalf of the many citizens that live in North Georgia who entrust us as County Commissioners to represent their interests, we respectfully ask you to close all of the state parks located in our area immediately.”
The GBI arrested East Ellijay Police Office Michael McClure at approximately noon today February 14th 2018. A copy of Booking report and warrant below. FYN has requested a statement from the GBI and East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan.
Below is a Press Release Statement from East Ellijay Chief of Police, Larry Callahan.
Team FYN Sports will be broadcasting live the Blue Ridge Christmas Clash. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Support your local youth and sports and market your company at the same time. Contact us now @ [email protected] or 706.276.6397
The Burnt Mountain Classic took place on Friday night and Saturday at Pickens Co. High School. The Classic comes with high expectations by the teams attending – and although inclement weather forced school cancellations throughout the week – the tournament still lived up to the bill.
Although the weather was rough all week, 15 of 19 Varsity teams that were scheduled came off the buses ready to strap on their head gear and hit the mat. Fannin County was one of 22 varsity teams scheduled to attend but like a handful of the teams who cancelled, they followed the school cancellation schedule due to potential hazardous road conditions.
The acclaimed Gilmer Bobcats varsity squad, who have been living up to their legacy of absolute domination all season long, was originally scheduled to attend as well. After speaking with head coach Josh Ghobadpor about his decision to give his varsity the weekend off, he stated that with the weather being what it was during the week, they hadn’t been able to practice. Rather than put his varsity in a high-pressure situation so close to area and sectionals, Ghobadpor focused instead on taking his junior varsity team to compete in the JV Scramble.
“We tried to get to the gym to train but with ice on the roads we didn’t want to take any chances. This weekend we decided to bring our JV and let them get the extra work in, though. After all the JV is the future of Bobcat wrestling,” Ghobadpor told TeamFYNSports.
As the wrestlers laced up and shook hands, match-by-match the competition began to heat up right away. Pickens, Lumpkin, Creekview, Etowah, Cherokee High, Calhoun, Alcoa, Milton, Sequoyah, Chestatee, Towns, SE Whitfield, Walker, West Hall and River Ridge all came in pursuit of conquest.
With each win or loss, the cream began to rise to the top. While all in attendance had much to be proud of, two standout teams battled for the heralded prize of tournament champions. As the dust (and sweat) settled, congratulations went to the Creekview High School Grizzlies for capturing the crown in the team scoring with 219 points. Narrowly taking the runner up award in the team points was the host: the Pickens County High School Dragons.
On Saturday, the action heated up with the JV Scramble. The young freshmen and sophomore athletes showed up and showed out on the mats with Calhoun Yellow Jackets taking the JV trophy. Individual award winners from Pickens County included: Zach Meadows(113 lbs) 2nd Place, C.J. Murphy(120 lbs) 2nd Place, Joseph Ferguson(152 lbs) 2nd Place Michael Burrell(160 lbs) 1st Place, Tyler Vreeland(170 lbs), Kellie Dover(182 lbs) 3rd Place and Dalton Bruhner(195 lbs) 4th Place.
Other results were not available at the event. Congratulations to all athletes and best of luck in Area Competition and State!
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”
Joined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”
Governor Nathan Deal, who originally vetoed last year’s Bill 216 called the new House Bill 146 an “innovative and great solution to the situation.” Deal said the Bill provides relief for firefighters by providing a different method for compensation and money for treatment and care for firefighters who contract cancers during their work. Gravley thanked the Governor for his support of, as he called it, a “better bill.”
The sentiment was echoed by Speaker Ralston who said, “We have arrived at a better solution. By requiring a local government to provide insurance to our firefighters for certain types of cancer, the firefighter can skip the process of litigating a worker’s comp claim. This will allow the firefighter to focus on getting better and recovery rather than having to worry about legal bills and depositions and hearings.”
FYN caught up with Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal to ask them to elaborate on why the bill is better, comparative to last years Bill 216. The Speaker replied saying, “This uses a Health Insurance Model as opposed to a Workman’s Comp model which means instead of having to make a claim and perhaps go through a court type process to get benefits and income, Firefighters in this case will file a claim just like health insurance.”
Governor Deal also spoke on the insurance versus workman’s comp comparison saying it was an awkward and “adversarial way of deciding whether or not compensation is owed.” Deal went on to say the newer Bill is a much better solution “to provide insurance coverage that will define benefits and give some flexibility as to deciding the compensation that will be given to firefighters.”
More than Senators and Congressman came to see Deal sign the Bill, though. Several representatives from neighboring and local emergency services attended the event including Gilmer’s own Director of Public Safety Tony Pritchett who said the Bill “gives you a sense of protection… You can lay your head down and sleep better at night knowing that if you contract cancer because of the job, there’s some protection that will take care of you and your family.”
For more on the Signing of House Bill 146 watch the full ceremony below or find more Photos in our Album:
H & R Block, Beth Bennett shares information about unexpected taxable income. 1) Unemployment Earnings 2) Lottery and Gambling Winnings 3) Credit Forgiveness 4) 401 K Plans. In this segment Beth addresses the unexpected taxable income that may occur throughout the year.
COLLINS BILL TO HONOR FALLEN CLERMONT MARINE SENT TO PRESIDENT’S DESK
WASHINGTON—The Senate last night voted unanimously to pass H.R. 3821, legislation to rename Georgia’s Clermont Post Office in honor of Zack T. Addington. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) introduced the bill this September, and it passed the House in November.
“Lance Corporal Zack Addington represents the selfless courage that’s cultivated in northeast Georgia, and I’m excited to see this bill leave Congress and head to the president’s desk for his signature,” said Collins.
Collins also honored Addington when he spoke about the bill on the House floor.
Known to his neighbors as Zack, Addington joined the United States Marine Corps in 1967. A native of Clermont, he became a rifleman in the 3rd Marine Division of the Fleet Marine Force and deployed to Vietnam that year. Addington was promoted to Lance Corporal and served his country honorably until he was killed in action in May 1968.
That June, Addington received the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon in recognition of his service there.
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The 2018 election is already starting to take shape as challengers emerge announcing bids for candidacy against well-known incumbents. The most recent of these announcements comes from Margaret Williamson who intends to face off against Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston.
Ralston was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2002 and represents House District 7, which includes Fannin County, Gilmer County and a portion of Dawson County. Ralston is the 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, a position he has held since 2010.
Williamson, who resides in Ellijay, made a statement discussing her decision to run:
“For many years I have been involved in political campaigns, on local, state, and national levels. I have actively participated in legislative issues, in support of or in opposition to, learning all the way. Now I intend to use this experience and acquired knowledge to enter into the process as a candidate.”
Already having begun the process of running for the House District 7 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, Williamson acknowledged in her statement that she has mailed the “Declaration to Accept Campaign Contributions” form to the Georgia State Transparency & Campaign Finance Committee.
After approval of this form, Williamson’s next step will be to complete the qualifying process held in March of this year. The qualifying will officially make Williamson a candidate in the Republican Primary for Georgia State House Representative, District 7.
Williamson concluded her statement by announcing that she is in the process of creating a Facebook page which will contain her position on various issues.
“This decision is the culmination of months of debate and prayer. Please continue praying for both John and me,” Williamson said. “This is an exciting time for me.”
A General Primary Election for both Republicans and Democrats will take place on May 22, 2018. Voter registration deadline for the Primary Election is April 23.
Winners of the primaries will face off in the General Election to held on Nov. 6, 2018.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at [email protected]
The White County Warriors had an impressive 2017 football season. Coming off an abismal 1-9 season in 2016, the Warriors came out swinging and scored some big wins early in 2017; defeating Franklin (33-0), Lumpkin (66-14) and Habersham Central (24-21) before dropping a tough loss to Rabun County (49-26).
The Warriors came back the following week and knocked down North Hall (28-18), who’s only other loss to a AAAA power came in the final seconds against Pickens County (42-35) where the Trojans marched down the field and came up just short as time expired.
In 2018, the Warriors will once again have an exciting schedule to kick off the season, and there’s no doubt they’ll be looking to duplicate and even improve upon their 7-4, 2-2 season from last year.
With games at Lumpkin County and then home against Habersham Central, the Warriors kick the season off much like they did in 2017. However, put a big red circle around the Sept 7 game at Pickens County, where PHS head coach Chris Parker is likely reloading rather than rebuilding this season. The game pits two quality AAAA programs against each other in non-region play, with White representing Region 7-AAAA and Pickens representing Region 6-AAAA. Both teams were eliminated early in post-season play last year, but both teams proved to be fearsome opponents on the gridiron regardless of home/away.
After the Pickens game, the Warriors schedule doesn’t let up.
The Warriors enjoyed a 10-pt victory over North Hall last season, but the Trojans played much better football as the season continued, and was the #TeamFYNSports Most Improved Team in Region 7-AAA last season. The Warriors will look to defeat the Trojans (9/14), before taking the drive over to Marist for their first game in region play. Marist, as the whole world is aware, is the defending region champion in Region 6. What’s interesting about Marist is although they won their region, defeating rival Blessed Trinity 25-24 early in the season. Two months later, the two teams met again in the State Championship and Blessed Trinity defeated the War Eagles 16-7. Undoubtedly, Marist will look to return to the final in 2018, but they will have to go through White County first.
Perhaps the best part of the Warriors’ schedule this year is the break between facing Marist (9/21) and Blessed Trinity (11/2), although the Warriors will need to defeat Flowery Branch, West Hall, Denmark and Chestatee during the interim.
How will the 2018 season fare for the Warriors of White County? It’s too early to tell. Rest assured the team will be preparing accordingly and TeamFYNSports looks forward to reporting on the 2018 season from the sidelines this fall.
2018 Georgia Election Run-Off Results
Tonight marks the run-offs for election races in Georgia, these results are unofficial until approved by the Secretary of State.
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 756,016 votes 51.97%
John Barrow (D) – 698,770 votes 48.03%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 749,805 votes 51.83%
Lindy Miller (D) – 696,957 votes 48.17%
Check for local results by county here:
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,337 votes 83.13%
John Barrow (D) – 880 votes 16.87%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,250 votes 81.79%
Lindy Miller (D) – 946 votes 18.21%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,408 votes 84.01%
John Barrow (D) – 839 votes 15.99%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,325 votes 82.70%
Lindy Miller (D) – 905 17.30%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,522 votes 81.89%
John Barrow (D) – 779 votes 18.11%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,454 votes 80.57%
Lindy Miller (D) – 833 votes 19.43%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,985 votes 85.83%
John Barrow (D) – 658 votes 14.17%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,939 votes 85.02%
Lindy Miller (D) – 694 votes 14.98%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,063 votes 82.78%
John Barrow (D) – 845 votes 17.22%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,960 votes 80.82%
Lindy Miller (D) – 940 votes 19.18%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,246 votes 80.92%
John Barrow (D) – 1,001 votes 19.08%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,108 votes 78.65%
Lindy Miller (D) – 1,115 votes 21.35%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,161 votes 79.95%
John Barrow (D) – 542 votes 20.05%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,105 votes 78.22%
Lindy Miller (D) – 586 votes 21.78%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,699 votes 88.99%
John Barrow (D) – 334 votes 11.01%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,691 votes 88.84%
Lindy Miller (D) – 338 votes 11.16%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,378 votes 78.47%
John Barrow (D) – 927 votes 21.53%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,337 votes 77.89%
Lindy Miller (D) – 947 votes 22.11%
Out of 159 sheriffs in the Sheriff’s Association, nine serve as regional vice-presidents. Then, there is the executive board with a first vice president, second vice-president, secretary/treasurer, and the president of the Sheriff’s Association.
This year, the position of president is filled by Gilmer County’s own Sheriff Stacy Nicholson.
After serving for six years as a regional vice president, Nicholson ran for the position of secretary/treasurer in 2015. Having been elected to that position, the process continued as the elected person will serve in all positions until he reaches and concludes with the presidency. A process that Nicholson says helps to prepare that person for the presidency as he gains experience and service throughout each other position.
But this is more than just a presidency as it sets his future in the Association on the Board of Directors. While he has served on the board in previous years as a regional vice president, his election in 2015 placed him permanently on the board as long as he serves as sheriff. This is because the Board of Directors is made up of the four Executive Board members, the current regional vice presidents, and the past presidents of the association.
Our sheriff’s progress along this path was not always so clear, though. He began at 19-years-old when he took a job at the jail. Nicholson says he wasn’t running around as a kid playing “sheriff” or anything that would have preceded his life in law enforcement. He had never considered the career until his mother made a call one day and got him a position in the jail in March of 1991. In a process that only took one weekend, the young man went from needing a part-time job and searching for something to fill that need to an on-the-clock deputy working and training at the Detention Center on March 3.
There was no training seminars to attend, no special certifications to obtain. He simply spoke with Sheriff Bernhardt on the phone as the interview, showed up to collect his uniform, and began work the next day.
Even then, it was never a thought in Nicholson’s mind about the position of sheriff. Instead, he began immediately looking at the next level of law enforcement, a deputy. More specifically, he began striving to become a deputy-on-patrol. Serving daily at the jail led to a quick “training” as he dealt with situations and convicts, but it was also short-lived.
Six months after entering the detention center, he achieved his goal and secured his promotion.
To this day, Stacy Nicholson holds true to his thoughts, “Anybody who wants to be in local law enforcement, where they’re out patrolling the streets of a community, they ought to start out in the jail because you’re locked up in a building for 8-12 hours every day with inmates.”
The situation quickly teaches you, according to Nicholson, how to handle situations, criminal activity, and convicts. It is how he likes to hire deputies as he says it “makes or breaks them.” It allows the department to see if that person can handle the life the way they want it handled. More than just handling difficult situations, though, it is a position of power over others that will show if you abuse the power while in a more contained and observed environment.
Though his time in the detention center was “eye-opening” and an extreme change from his life to that point, Nicholson actually says the part of his career that hit the hardest was his time as a deputy.
The life became more physically demanding as he began dealing with arrests, chases, and the dangers of responding to emergencies and criminal activity. However, it also became more mentally taxing as Nicholson realized the best tool for most situations was his own calm demeanor. That calm sense could permeate most people to de-escalate situations.
Nicholson relates his promotion out of the jail as similar to the inmates he watched over. He says, “It was almost a feeling like an inmate just released from six months confinement. He feels free, I felt free. I’m in a car, I’m a deputy sheriff… I can go anywhere I want to in this county.”
Nicholson’s high point of the promotion was shattered quickly, though, with one of the first calls to which he responded. He notes that at that time in the county, at best, he had one other deputy patrolling somewhere in the county during a shift. A lot of times, he would be the only deputy patrolling on his shift. Still, even with another deputy on patrol, he could be twenty minutes away at any given time.
It became an isolating job, alone against the criminal element. Though we still live in a “good area,” and even in the early ’90s, a lower crime area relative to some in the country. Still, Nicholson says, there were those who would easily decide to harm you, or worse, to avoid going to jail.
Telling the story of one of his first calls on patrol, Nicholson recalled a mentally deranged man. The only deputy on duty that night, he responded to a call about this man who had “ripped his parent’s home apart.” Arriving on the scene and beginning to assess the situation, he discovered that this deranged man believed he was Satan. Not exaggerating, he repeated this part of the story adding weight to each word, “He thought that He. Was. Satan. He actually believed he was the devil.”
Scared to death, he continued talking to the man and convinced him to get into his vehicle without force.
It became quite real about the types of things he would see in this career. It sunk in deep as to exactly what the police academy and training could never prepare him to handle. Yet, Nicholson says it taught him more than anything else. It taught him he had to always be quick-thinking and maintain the calm air. It became a solemn lesson to “try to use my mouth more than muscle.”
The flip-side of the job, however, makes it worse. Though sharing the extreme stories like this one showcases the rarer moments of the position, he says it is actually a slow, boring job on patrol. It is because of this usual pace that sets such a disparity to the moments when he got a call to more serious situations. His job was never like the movies with gunfights every day and then you just walk away and grab a drink. The high-intensity points were harder to handle because you are calm and relaxed before the call. It causes an adrenaline spike and your body kicks over into a different gear so suddenly. An “adrenaline dump” like that made it hard for Nicholson to keep from shaking on some days.
Even in his years as a detective, it seemed it would always happen as he laid down to sleep when a call came in. The rebound from preparing to sleep and shut down for the day all the way back to being on high function and stress of working a crime scene could be extreme. With so much adrenaline, Nicholson can only refer to these moments as “containment, ” conquering the feeling and holding it down in order to function properly in the situation.
“It’s all in your brain and, I guess, in your gut,” Nicholson says that while he has known people who thrive on the adrenaline and actively seek it, they really become a minority in the big picture, only 1-2%. He notes, “If a cop tells you he has never been in a situation where he was scared, he’s probably lying.”
This is the point of courage, though. He references an old John Wayne quote, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” It is the point of the job that sets them apart from most people. You cannot do the job without courage, you cannot last in it.
Courage in the moment doesn’t mean you don’t feel the effects. Dealing with everything that an officer sees, feels, and hears through the line of duty is another trial all its own.
Handling it, he said, is to just put it away for a while. Still, he says he had to deal with it eventually. Nicholson says throughout his time in this career through deputy, detective, and sheriff, he deals with those emotions and dark points through camaraderie with friends and fellow officers, taking a night to talk with close friends and talking through the hard points.
Nicholson also says he finds relief in his faith in God after becoming a Christian in 1982. Turning to him in order to find comfort in letting go of the issues, “talking to God” is something that Nicholson says he falls on later. As you find yourself in certain situations and you put off the emotions to deal with, you have to turn back and face it with God’s help at some point. Stress is an enormously negative factor in his position and dealing with it productively in the key. Fighting against destructive processes that lead to heavy drinking and suicide is the reality of any serious law enforcement career.
One of the hardest points in his career is one well known in Gilmer County. It is hard to speak about the Sheriff’s Office in Gilmer without speaking of one of its biggest losses in Officer Brett Dickey. Even over 20 years later, Nicholson says it shapes and affects him to this day.
Directly involved in the shooting, Nicholson was one of the officers on location that night. He and Mark Sanford were on location attempting to get a man out of the house with other officers forming a perimeter around the residence.
Even speaking of it today, watching and listening to Sheriff Nicholson retell the story, you can see the change it puts into his face, into his voice. You watch his eyes fall to the floor as he mentions the details. You see him straighten in his chair slightly as if preparing to brace against an impact. You hear his voice soften, losing a little of the authoritative tone. In this moment, you hear the wound.
“That’s the only shot I’ve ever fired in the line of duty.” Firing the shot at the suspect as he was shooting, Nicholson says he fired into a very small area to try to shoot him to stop the gunfire. With 10 shots fired randomly, Nicholson says, “The entire situation, it seemed like it took thirty minutes to unfold, but it actually happened all in about three to four seconds… Two deputies were hit, it was definitely a dark night in the career.”
He swears it is an incident that he will never forget. It was a turning point that set the direction for his life in the coming years. After that, Nicholson began taking training personally to become something more. It became more than just a job that night.
It was a night that forced Nicholson deeper into the life that is law enforcement.
Even now, as Sheriff, he couldn’t quite answer the question if the lifestyle is something he can turn off after he leaves. It even defines his goals in the position as he says, “My number one goal is to never have to bury an officer. That’s my number one goal, and my second goal is that we don’t have to kill someone else.”
Accomplishing both of these goals is something Nicholson says he understands isn’t as likely as it used to be, but it is something he continually strives for in his career.
With his career and training advancing, Nicholson began thinking about running for office in 1998. Though he was thinking of it at that time. He didn’t run for the position until 2004. Now on his fourth term, Nicholson continues his efforts into the position of law enforcement. While he looks at it from more of the big picture standpoint than he did as a deputy, he says he has to remember he is first a law enforcement officer and must act accordingly. However, the position of sheriff is a political figure and has public responsibilities because of that.
He offers an example of his wife and kid being sick at one time. Heading to the store to get Gatorade to help them feel better, he says he may get caught for an hour in the Gatorade aisle talking to someone about a neighbor dispute going on. “The sheriff is the representative of the law enforcement community to the citizens. The citizens would much prefer to talk specifically to the sheriff than a deputy that’s actually going to take care of the problem.”
It becomes a balancing act of the law enforcement lifestyle and being a politician. Being in a smaller community only increases the access as everyone knows and commonly sees the sheriff.
On the enforcement side, taking the role in the big picture sense, he says he has had to pay more attention to national news and its effects on the local office and citizens. Going further, rather than worrying about what to do on patrol, he’s looked more at locations. Patrol zones and the need for visibility of officers in certain areas over others.
The position also separates you from others, “It’s tough to have to discipline someone who is one of your better friends… You learn to keep at least a small amount of distance between yourself and those you are managing.” As much as you want to be close friends with those you serve alongside, the position demands authority. Nicholson compares the Sheriff’s Office to more of a family, saying someone has to be the father. Someone has to be in that leadership role.
The depth of the role is one thing Nicholson says he has been surprised with after becoming sheriff. He explains that he didn’t expect just how much people, both citizens and employees, look to him to solve certain problems. He chuckles as he admits, “I can’t tell you the number of times that I pull into the parking lot and I might handle four situations in the parking lot before I get to the front doors of the courthouse.”
People often look to the sheriff for advice on situations or to be a mediator.
Despite the public attention, Nicholson says the hardest thing he deals with in his position is balancing the needs against the county’s resources. Speaking specifically to certain needs over others is a basic understood principle of leadership, it is one Nicholson says he knows too well when balancing budgets and funds versus the office’s and deputy’s needs. Whether it is equipment, training, salary, or maintenance, he says that trying to prioritize these needs and provide for them is the toughest task.
Despite the surprises and the difficulties, Nicholson states, “It’s me, it’s my command staff, all the way down to the boots on the ground troops. I think we have put together one of the best law enforcement agencies that Georgia has to offer.”
Gaining state certification in his first term was one proud moment for Nicholson as the office grew in discipline and achieved policy changes. Though it wasn’t easy, he says he had to ‘hold his own feet to the fire’ during the process as the office went down the long checklist to accomplish the feat. Setting the direction for the office at the time, the changes to policies and disciplines were only the start of keeping the office on track to the task.
It signaled a growth and change from the days of one or two deputies on patrol in the county into a more professional standardized agency, a growth that Nicholson holds close as one of his accomplishments that his deputies and command staff have helped him to achieve.
It is a point echoed by his one on his command staff, Major Mike Gobble, who said, “When he took office, one of his first goals was to bring the Sheriff’s Office up-to-date and modernize the sheriff’s office from salaries to equipment. Making sure we had the pull to do our job, that was one of his major priorities.”
Gobble says going from one to two deputies on shift to four or five deputies on shift improved their response time alongside managing patrol zones. Gobble went on to say its the struggle that he sees the sheriff fight for his deputies for salaries, benefits, and retirement that shows his leadership. It is that leadership that draws Gobble further into his position in the command staff.
Now, having Gilmer’s sheriff moving into the position as President of the Sheriff’s Association, it’s prideful to see that position held here in Gilmer County. As sheriff, Gobble says he handles the position with respect and class. He knows how to deal with the citizens of the county, but also with those outside the county and at the state level. “He’s a very approachable kind of person. Not just as a sheriff, but an approachable kind of person.”
It is a quality Gobble says serves the people well to be able to talk to people respectfully while having an “open ear” to help them with their problems. Its the point that not every employee sees, he’s working towards improving their positions and pay for what they give to service.
Improving these positions is something Nicholson himself says is very difficult, especially around budget times in the year. Noted repeatedly over the years for the struggles at budget times in the county, Nicholson says it is about the perspective of the county. “I’m not over those departments, I’ve got my own stuff to look after… but we are all a part of the same county government.”
It is always a difficult process for those involved. He continues his thoughts on the topic saying, “I always have a true respect for the need for the other county departments to have adequate funding… But when it comes down to it, I’ve got to put being a citizen aside and be the sheriff. My responsibility is to look after the sheriff’s office.”
While the financial portions of the sheriff’s position stand as Nicholson’s least-liked part of the job, he balances the other half seeing the community support for officers in our county. He says he gets disappointed at seeing the news from across the nation in communities that protest and fight law enforcement. Living in this community affords him his favorite part of the job in being around people so much.
From the employees he works alongside to the citizens that speak to him to the courthouse’s own community feel. Its the interaction with people that highlights the days for Nicholson as he says, “It ought to be illegal to be paid to have this much fun.”
Even the littlest things like one situation that he recalls, he was speaking with an officer at the security station of the courthouse, one man came in and began speaking with Nicholson as another man walks in. The two gentlemen eventually began conversing with each other, but it became apparent that neither could hear well. As the conversation progresses with one trying to sell a car and the other speaking on a completely different topic of a situation years earlier. Nicholson says it was the funniest conversation he has ever heard and a prime example of simply getting more interaction with the public as sheriff.
It is an honor that he says competes with and conflicts with his appointment to the Sheriff’s Association, conflict simply in the idea that it is just as big of an honor to be a part of the leadership of Gilmer’s community as it is to be a part of the leadership of the state organization.
The presidency will see Nicholson in the legislature’s sessions and a part of committee meetings in the process. Traveling to the capitol during legislative session and a winter, summer, and fall conference for the association make-up the major commitments of the positions.
Starting to look at the Executive Committee 2009 as something he wanted to achieve, he gained this desire from a now past president that still serves on the Board of Directors as an inspiration to the position. As one of a few people that Nicholson calls a mentor, this unnamed guide led Nicholson to the executive board through his own example in the position. Now achieving it himself, Nicholson says he hopes that he can, in turn, be that example for other younger sheriffs and build the same relationships with them that have inspired him.
Calling the presidency a great achievement, Nicholson didn’t agree that it is a capstone on his career saying, “I’m not done with being sheriff in Gilmer County.”
While focusing on his position on the Executive Board and his position as Gilmer Sheriff, Nicholson says he doesn’t have a set goal to accomplish past the coming presidency. Promoting the profession of law enforcement as president of the Sheriff’s Association and growing the Sheriff’s Office in Gilmer County, these are the focus that Nicholson uses to define the next stages of his career.
To continue his growth in the county office, he says he is reaching an age where he can’t plan several terms ahead anymore. He wants to look at the question of running for Sheriff again to each election period. That said, he did confirm that he definitely will run again in 2020.
The Mountain Football League playoffs have finally reached their final destination for 2017: Super Bowl Saturday. This weekend, several of North Georgia’s finest young athletes will meet on the gridiron at Fannin County High School, battling to take home the league’s top honor of Super Bowl Champions.
Here are the results from last weekend’s final round of the playoffs:
6U: Fannin defeated Gilmer 22-0. Will play East Hall in the Super Bowl. East Hall defeated Chestatee 34-0.
7U: Fannin defeated Dawson 32-0. Will play Gilmer in Super Bowl. Gilmer defeated Pickens 46-0.
8U: Union defeated Fannin 20-0. Will play Chestatee in Super Bowl. Chestatee defeated Gilmer 25-19.
9U: Chestatee defeated West Hall 34-8. Will play Pickens in Super Bowl. Pickens defeated Dawson 26-0.
10U: Fannin defeated Gilmer 29-0. Will play Dawson in Super Bowl. Dawson defeated Union 12-0.
11U: Chestatee defeated Fannin 20-7. Will play Gilmer in Super Bowl. Gilmer defeated Dawson 7-6.
Follow us on Twitter @teamfynsports next weekend (or on Facebook) as we will have complete Super Bowl coverage from the sidelines on Saturday.
Updated Game Times:
6u Super Bowl
East Hall vs Fannin 10Am
7U Super Bowl
Fannin vs Gilmer 1145Am
8U Super Bowl
Union vs Chestatee 1:30pm
9U Super Bowl
Chestatee vs Pickens 3:15Pm
10U Super Bowl
Dawson vs Fannin 5pm
11U Super Bowl
Gilmer vs Chestatee 6:45 Pm