Originally created 02/27/06

Commission seats watched



Of the three Columbia County commissioners whose seats are up for re-election this year, each is giving a different answer on whether he will run again.

Commissioner Lee Anderson says he will run. Commissioner Steve Brown says he's calling it quits. Commission Chairman Ron Cross says he's somewhere in between, undecided at the moment but expecting to decide within the next two weeks.

"I haven't really made a final decision yet," said Mr. Cross, who is in his fourth year as chairman and in his first term as a politician.

"You never know if there's a good time to leave, because you've got things going on that you'd like to see through and that probably would never change, so I don't know."

The terms for the three seats expire Dec. 31, and talk about who might run is beginning to heat up.

Mr. Anderson, who represents Columbia County District 4, said he is looking to gear up fundraising efforts soon.

"I'm going to run," said Mr. Anderson, who has served three years on the commission. "I want to continue in helping the rural area and District 4."

Meanwhile, Mr. Brown, who represents District 1, said he was keeping to a promise by serving only one term on the commission.

"All along when I came into office, I said I was going to run one term because that was my objective, to do my civil service and go back into private business and private life," he said.

"Let's just say this, if I hadn't been on the planning commission for 4 (years), it might be different," he said. "But you've got to add up those years.''

Although no new names have surfaced as contenders for commission chairman, Columbia County Democratic Party Chairman Scott Nichols has filed an intent to accept campaign contributions to run for the District 1 seat.

"I think we need to have a change," said Mr. Nichols, a senior project manager for a national engineering consultant firm.

"I don't think the average citizen has a voice in our community."

Mr. Cross said he is looking forward to Ron Thigpen, the county's former planning commission chairman, possibly running for the District 1 seat as well.

"I think Ron will be a valuable member of the commission," Mr. Cross said.

"He's got a lot of experience in the county, and I think he'd definitely be an asset."

Mr. Thigpen, who works as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Georgia Bank and Trust, said a run for the commission is "an active consideration."

"I have been encouraged by a lot of friends and people in the county to actively consider that, and that's kind of where that stands," Mr. Thigpen said. "I'm not prepared to say one way or the other until I'm ready to make an announcement."

An election for all three seats is set for the statewide primary election July 18.

Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT

Those wishing to run for three Columbia County commission seats that will become open Dec. 31 must qualify with their respective party between 9 a.m. April 24 and noon April 28. The election for those seats will take place during the statewide primary July 18.