Elections decided by the slimmest of margins

We'd all like to vote for the best man, but he's never a candidate.

-- Kin Hubbard

Some Augustans head to the polls again today in a runoff race for District 1 commissioner.

Turnouts in runoffs are generally low, but we all know every vote can be important. Just ask the voters in Georgia's Franklin County.

Earlier this month, the mayoral races in the towns of Royston and Franklin Springs -- located a mile from each other -- ended in ties.

After recounts Nov. 4, and a provisional ballot counted on Nov. 5, both elections were decided by just one vote.

Franklin Springs Mayor Brian James defeated challenger Lee Moore , 119-118. In Royston, former Councilman David Jordan beat Mayor Bill Stewart , 225-224.

Both races were contentious, political observers said, and drew relatively high turnouts.

That sounds familiar.

SPEAKING OF POLITICS: Charlie Williams says a lobbyist in Washington had just finished up a meeting with a congressman when he stopped to use the men's room.

After washing his hands, he stepped over to the hand dryer and noticed that someone had taped a note to the machine.

The note said, "Push button for message from Congress."

MORE MAIL: Peggy and John Wren , of Grovetown, were spending Thanksgiving in Pigeon Forge, where the weather was beautiful and so was time with grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Jennifer , Albert , Taylor , Trey and Abby .

HOLIDAY GIFTS: Donna Jerome read my account of spending Thanksgiving afternoon counting up the year's spare change. She has better idea, and writes: "We don't wrap our coins on Thanksgiving, but we do save all our change through the year and then make the donation to The Empty Stocking Fund. It is usually $60-$70 and we never miss it because we added it to the mug a little at a time."

(That's a great idea, Donna!)

TODAY'S JOKE: Everett Fernandez shares this one.

It seems a software engineer, a hardware engineer and a departmental manager were on their way to a meeting in Switzerland.

They were driving down a steep mountain road when suddenly the brakes on their car failed.

The car careened almost out of control down the road, bouncing off the crash barriers, until it miraculously ground to a halt, scraping along the mountainside.

The car's occupants, shaken but unhurt, now had a problem: They were stuck halfway down a mountain in a car with no brakes. What were they to do?

"I know," said the departmental manager, "Let's have a meeting, propose a vision, formulate a mission statement, define some goals, and by a process of continuous improvement find a solution to the critical problems, and we can be on our way."

"No, no," said the hardware engineer, "that will take far too long, and besides, that method has never worked before. I've got my Swiss army knife with me, and in no time at all I can strip down the car's braking system, isolate the fault, fix it, and we can be on our way."

"Well," said the software engineer, "before we do anything, I think we should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again."

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or bill.kirby@augustachronicle.com.

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