‘Fire bond’ debate, early voting move forward in Canton
by Joshua Sharpe
jsharpe@cherokeetribune.com
March 14, 2013 12:00 AM | 1416 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As early voting on a proposed $6 million general obligation bond which would build new fire stations in Canton nears its end Friday, tensions continue to flare within the community.

Since early voting began in late February, only 345 of the almost 13,000 registered voters in the city have cast their ballot, said Janet Munda, Cherokee County Supervisor of Elections and Registration.

The bond, which has a term of 20 years, would build up to three new fire stations in Canton to service newer, more recently developed areas in the city.

Laurel Canyon, a community on the northwestern edge of Canton, would be the location of the first station. Facilities in The Bluffs and near Canton Marketplace would follow.

It goes to a public vote Tuesday.

Canton activist Jeff Brown, who has through his public comments become one the de facto leaders in the movement against the bond, said in an email Wednesday that the opposition continues its push to defeat the proposed bond.

“I have been asked by many for “NO” yard signs,” Brown said, making reference to anti-bond signs he has helped distribute.

Brown said he’s also heard rumors of a “VOTE NO” themed Saint Patrick’s Day celebration at a local bar and grill.

Brown and others dissenters of the bond have some members of the Canton City Council up in arms, suggesting that their statements against the bond are “misleading” and “misinformed.”

But Brown — City Councilman John Beresford suggested at Canton’s last council meeting — is at least making his comments against the bond out in the open and not operating in “anonymity.”

Others, Beresford said, are getting their message out anonymously.

Beresford’s chief example of the tactics of the anonymous opposition is a postcard which he received in the mail. The card asks the receiver to vote against the bond and makes several claims, warning of potential problems it could cause.

While Beresford has called one of the claims made on the card a “lie,” he also is taken with the fact that the card does not identify the sender.

City Councilman Hooky Huffman, another staunch supporter of the proposal, also takes issue with this omission.

“The other side is hiding,” he said Wednesday.

A spokesperson with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission said Georgia law no longer requires parties mailing out campaign materials to identify themselves on the item.

Huffman also said Wednesday that he wanted to see the bond’s opposition present facts and stop spreading what he calls “misinformation.”

One claim made by the bond’s opposition Huffman denies is that the city of Canton has not fully explored the option of merging their fire department with Cherokee County’s.

Huffman vehemently denies this assertion, saying that Canton considered the possibility of a merger with the county in a meeting in May 2012.

When the issue goes to public vote on Tuesday, Munda said, voters should not report to City Hall but to their regular polling places.

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