Two for Three
Allen and Holley duel for Columbia County’s District 3
Columbia County’s race for Commission District 3 pits a two-time commissioner with strong family ties against a fresh-faced political newcomer.
Incumbent Charles Allen, brother to District 12 Congressional Republican candidate Rick Allen and husband to Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen, is enjoying his second appearance on the commission, while local businessman Butch Holley is seeking his first political office.
Holley is running on the need for better communication.
“One of the biggest things I saw coming into this from a national to a state to a local level is that we have problems with incumbent politicians that have become disconnected from the people they serve,” he says.
He claims Allen is not only disconnected, but he also abstained on key votes as commissioner.
“That’s a big kicker with a lot of people,” he says. “A lot of people have a very big problem with the fact that a politician would abstain from voting when he’s basically elected to do a job.”
Allen, however, characterizes his time differently.
“I feel like I’ve been a reasonably active county commissioner for the past three and a half years,” he says. “I’ve tried to be involved in everything, and I don’t think I’ve missed a phone call or an email. Most of the time, people appreciate me responding in a pretty quick manner.”
In fact, he says people seem to be pretty satisfied with the direction of the county, especially the broadband ring that he says could allow Columbia County to join Fort Gordon and the medical district as concentrations of high-quality, high-demand and high-paying jobs and services.
“We could attract some of the venture capital folks that service Silicon Valley,” he says.
Holley agrees, but feels he’s better suited for the job.
“What I explain to people is that my opponent is a very nice guy, but he’ll tell you right now he doesn’t understand it,” he says, referring to the county’s broadband project. “With me — I’m 40 years old. I’ve grown up in the IT and technology world.”
It’s more of a generational gap than an individual gap, he says.
“If you have a county commissioner who can look at a Fortune 500 company and explain to them that we have a T3 with a baud rate of a certain level running across a broadband network, they’re going to appreciate that because that’s the face of the county,” he says. “Whereas you have an incumbent who’ll tell you, hey — I don’t really know about this whole thing other than it’s really good and you need to use it.”
Allen’s big issue — it’s written on his signs — is to repeal the stormwater tax.
“Everywhere I go, people tell me it’s about time somebody looked at that,” he says.
His plan is to fund stormwater projects with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) money, something Holley disagrees with.
“I think it’s important for people to understand that we do not have a stormwater tax in Columbia County,” he says. “It’s a utility fee.”
The difference may be a subtle one — or a funny one according to Allen supporters, who joke that a utility fee is what a liberal calls a tax — but Holley insists it’s a valid one.
“You want to get rid of a utility fee and pay for it with a tax?” he asks. “I think it’s completely misleading to put that on advertising. I’m a marketing and sales guy — I know what the buzzwords are. I know the spin and I know the ploy.”
Holley is also attacking Allen on his in-county travel expenses.
“I’ve tried to explain to people that I see absolutely no problem with the reimbursement of out-of-county travel,” he says. “That makes perfect sense. But if you’re driving from your house to the county office for a commissioner meeting and you’re already paid a salary — there’s no need to reimburse that.”
According to Holley’s press release, Allen collected 58 percent of the county commission’s in-county travel reimbursement.
“Knowing that Mr. Allen’s household has earned over $500,000 in the past four years in governmental salaries, it is reprehensible that he finds it okay to bill the citizens of Columbia County for an additional $135 on average each month.”
Allen’s message to voters is that he will ensure that Columbia County continues to be one of the best managed counties in the state.
“We want to grow, but be careful with our money and careful with our growth,” he says. “A lot of people tell me they have confidence in our group being able to do that.”You Might Also Like: