Twiggs commission veterans squaring off for District 3

The Twiggs County District 3 commission seat is a contest between the incumbent and a former long-serving commissioner.

Milton Sampson, who previously served as chair of the county school board, was elected to the District 3 seat in 2008. He is being challenged by William Bond, who served in the seat from 1975 until 2000.

Both men are running as Democrats. There is no Republican opposition.

Sampson is asking voters to re-elect him so he can continue efforts to improve Twiggs County.

“There are some things I know we need to do to bring us into the future,” he said.

Sampson, who is a Church of Christ minister and a retired educator, said he is focused on repairing roads, running county water throughout the district, increasing recreation for youths and bringing in more industry.

“I’ve seen to it that roads have been paved and taxes we received have not been wasted,” he said.

Sampson said he is working with the Development Authority and chamber of commerce in his district to get a fire station on U.S. 29 and a bridge replaced on Bullard Road.

“All of that is in the making,” Sampson said. “There are a lot of things that seem to be coming together -- things that should have been done a long time ago.”

He said only the portion of his district closest to Academy Sports has municipal water.

“Everybody has a well in the back and a septic tank in the front,” Sampson said. “I am trying to get it into the more populated areas of the district. ... It should have been done 20 or 30 years ago.”

Bond, who is retired from the J.M. Huber Corp., said he felt compelled to run again because of the way the current board handles finances and deals with the public.

“We have a tremendous financial problem, and this is something that should not exist,” he said. “It arises from bad planning. It appears to be no planning at all.”

If elected, he said he would focus on keeping the county out of debt, developing a better system of purchasing and being more responsive to the public.

Bond said he understands that emergencies can happen, but he said the current board seems to operate on borrowed funds.

“There’s tremendous extra cost to us,” Bond said. “When you borrow money, you pay interest on it, which is really something government should not plan to do.”

He said Twiggs County can’t duplicate what other counties do.

“We don’t have the tax base that Bibb County has,” Bond said. “We don’t have the business. We have some basic industry but all of our money comes mostly from individual homeowners.”

Bond said when he served on the commission, the budget was set solely based on the value of the tax digest -- all the taxable property in the county. He said county income is actually up, but the current commissioners blame the county’s tight finances on losses in the kaolin industry.

“When you look at the income of the county, it’s been increasing since 2000,” Bond said.

Bond also takes issue with the current board members’ interaction with the public. He said they don’t follow appropriate motion rules at meetings and make it difficult for the public to address the board with concerns.

“They seem to treat the people, the public, as hostile,” Bond said. “If a guy comes in with a problem, to them it might not seem too big, but to him it’s urgent.”

Other issues Bond said he would address are the county’s system of purchasing and disposing of county equipment.

“When the county sells something, they give it away,” Bond said. “When they buy something, they pay full price.”

Bond said his opponent is not dedicated to the job.

“The job takes time to do,” he said. “(Sampson) was on the school board for years and I supported him. When you’re in a position of making decisions, that’s why you’re there, you make them. Do the job, put the time in. People need to see you.”

Sampson said if re-elected, he would work with other commissioners to get things done.

“We need to be unified as we go forward,” Sampson said. “We need people who can work with other commissioners. They need to be easily accessible and promoting progress rather than tearing it down, and I’m the one to do that.”

“We also need to think outside of the box instead of doing the same old thing over and over again,” he said.