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Commissioners have questions on at-large seat
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Effingham County voters will decide on a county commission chairman at-large in the 2008 elections, and current commissioners still have plenty of questions about the position.

Effingham voters approved a measure in 2006 for an at-large commission chairman, and the state legislative delegation introduced local legislation that was approved in the 2007 General Assembly session.

“People are beginning to show an interest in it,” Commissioner Myra Lewis said. “They need to have the opportunity to know what all is at stake for them and what this county is going to request them to be responsible for.”

Assistant County Attorney Eric Gotwalt said he has not looked at the law lately, but he and county attorney Alex Zipperer will review it and present a summary of their opinion at the commissioners’ Jan. 3 meeting.

“People who are interested in running for the position will want to know what the position involves,” he said.

Gotwalt said a first draft of the law creating the position had provisions that could have led to problems. He said if the commissioners see something in the law they believe may cause a problem or they would like to change, he and Zipperer will make a request to the local legislative delegation.

As written, the position also will be a voting seat, in addition to being the lead voice for the board of commissioners on issues. Whether the chairman at-large would vote on matters before the board was debated before the final legislation was created and approved.

“We said either they can’t vote or they have to vote all the time,” Commissioner Reggie Loper said. “The chairman at large does not have any more power (than any other commissioner), and they have to vote all the time.”

Guyton City Alderman Phillip King said he weighed running for the position, which will be voted on in 2008, but opted against it.

“I had been contemplating running as chairman of the commissioners,” he said at Guyton’s city council meeting Wednesday morning. “I feel it’s time that other folks need to get involved, so I will not be running for chairman of the county commission.”