Elections

Crawford Commission races: Ousted commissioner tries to reclaim seat on board

A former Crawford County commissioner who was forced out of office is trying to reclaim a seat on the board.

Harold “Doug” Spillers was commission chairman when he was booted from office in 2005 for allegedly failing to disclose a felony conviction when he qualified to run for commissioner.

In 2009, however, he had the conviction overturned on appeal, and now he is trying to win election to the District 2 post.

Spillers is running against incumbent Bobby Blasingame in the Democratic primary on July 31. The winner will face Republican Chuck Evans in November.

For the District 4 commission seat, Republicans John Thomas and Fred Walker are facing off in the primary, and the winner will face incumbent Democrat Gene Hamlin.

District 2

Spillers, a farmer, was first elected to the board in 2000, and was re-elected in 2004 before Gov. Sonny Perdue removed him from office following a grand jury indictment. In 2008, Spillers was convicted on a charge that when qualifying, he failed to disclose an aggravated assault conviction stemming from a shooting in 1986, in which Spillers pleaded no contest.

However, the Georgia Court of Appeals in 2009 threw out the conviction, saying the qualifying form did not ask whether Spillers had a felony conviction but whether he knew of any reason he was not qualified to run for office. The ruling stated there was no proof Spillers knew he was not qualified to run.

Had the conviction been upheld, Spillers would not be able to run for office. He later sued several county officials, alleging he was prosecuted unfairly, but the suit was thrown out.

He declined to be interviewed when reached by phone.

“I just want to keep a low profile,” he said.

Blasingame, a poultry farmer, was elected to office in 2008. He has lived in Crawford County for most of his life.

“My top priority is the roads,” he said. “The people who live on unpaved roads ... we could speed up the process of getting those paved.”

If the transportation special purpose local option sales tax is approved, that would give the county more money to pave roads, he said. But even if it is voted down, he said, he would like to try to find more money for paving.

In his first term in office, he said he worked with the other commissioners to pave roads, improve recreation and balance the budget every year.

District 4

Thomas is an industrial electrician and operates PT&E Enterprises. He has also operated other businesses, including a motel and restaurant. He has also been involved with the Roberta-Crawford County Chamber of Commerce.

He did not cite any specific priorities if he gets elected but said he believes his business experience can benefit the county.

“I just want to get back involved with what’s going on in the county and see if my input helps,” he said.

Walker, a field salesman for Riverside Ford, served as the District 4 commissioner from 2005 to 2008, when he was defeated by Hamlin, whom Walker had beaten to win the seat.

Walker said when he went into office the county was $1 million in the red and had to borrow money to pay the bills. By his second year, he said, the county had erased the debt and continued to have a positive fund balance during his term.

“I just want to keep it going,” he said. “I want to get the county on stable grounds and keep it there.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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