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Cherokee Voters Reject HOST, Support Charter Amendment

Voters in Holly Springs also retained their incumbent city council members.

Riding a wave of opposition to new tax measures, voters in Cherokee County rejected a proposal to impose a one percent sales tax to be used to roll back county property taxes. 

Cherokee voters rejected the measure, with 36 percent, or 32,150, voting in favor while 64 percent, or 56,190, voted against the first question. On the HOST's second question, 46 percent, or 40,344, approved the measure while 54 percent, or 46,830 voted to defeat it.

The Homestead Option Sales Tax would have used revenue from the sales tax to reduce the county’s maintenance and operations portion of property taxes. It would not have applied to the school, fire district taxes and parks bond imposed by the county. 

Georgia law required two questions to be placed on the ballots and residents needed to vote yes on both in order for the referendum to pass. 

The law would have allowed the county to use up to 20 percent of the funds for capital projects. However, the Cherokee County Commission approved a resolution stating the board would have used 100 percent of the proceeds to roll back property taxes as long as a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax program is in place.

Voters in Cherokee also voted in favor of the controversial Amendment 1 ballot question, which will establish a separate commission to approve charter schools at the state level. The commission would approve the schools, even if the local boards of education denying charter school petitions. 

Support for the amendment was stronger in Cherokee than in the rest of the state, with 59 percent of voters in favor of the amendment in Cherokee compared to 44 percent, or 38,646, in Cherokee who voted against the question. 

Woodstock and Towne Lake voters, along with voters in some portions of southwest Cherokee County, also elected Republican Michael Caldwell to become their new state representative. Caldwell defeated Democratic challenger Lillian Burnaman for the House District 20 seat with 77 percent, or 18,415 votes to Burnaman's 23 percent, or 5,522 votes. 

Voters in Holly Springs chose to retain their incumbent city council members. Sixty-seven percent, or 2,210 voters in Post 3 voted for incumbent Michael Zenchuk over challenger Alex Berkobin. Berkobin received 33 percent, or 1,098 votes.

"I want to say a big thanks to all of those that showed their support and voted for me," Berkobin said.  "I'd also like to congratulate Michael on his victory.  This was my first time running for a political office and I learned a lot from the campaign process.  I hope to apply those lessons to next time I choose to run."

In Holly Springs Post 4, incumbent Karen Barnett defeated Planning and Zoning Commissioner Bob Kovacs by a margin of 65 to 35 percent. Barnett garnered 2,179 votes to Kovacs' 1,199.

"While it's disappointing that I lost the election, I wish Karen the best over the next four years on the City Council," Kovacs told Patch.  

"I will continue to serve the City of Holly Springs as a Planning & Zoning Commissioner, and in any other ways that I can.  This was my first campaign for City Council, but it certainly won't be my last."

Post 5 incumbent Jeremy Smith and Mayor Tim Downing had no opposition in the election.

Jodi Haisten November 07, 2012 at 05:53 PM
The amount of voters who voted yes for Amendment 1 speaks highly of how many Cherokee County folks realize there are issues in the public school systems in this county. Whether they had kids in the system, have kids now in the system or will be having kids in the future in the system they stood up and boldly told the superintendent and school board “you need to get your act together” because we want and now have other options if you don’t. The finger pointing can and needs to stop and we need to own up to the fact that Ga is in the bottom of the heap for education not only with other states but other countries as well!! Instead of having Ga on the news as a state that fights among their neighbors and friends over school issues, let’s be the state know for kicking butt on school scores and leading the way to producing the next generation of awesome adults. Time to put down the yard signs, car flyers and let’s try sharing what works for each set of schools and use it to build UP our kids, not tear them down because they go to charter or go to public. To those that voted yes, thank you from the bottom of my heart for hearing charter parents plea of “our kids, our choice”. I hope you don’t have to go through issues some of us have gone through to have had us make the choice to go Charter. Education for our kids has and always will be our primary concern.
Becky Casey November 08, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Totally agree, Jodi!!! I'm excited to see such a large percentage of Cherokee voters loudly defeat status quo to put the well being of all of the precious kids who live in our community in the forefront of their education. BIG message to BIG education...It's time to put kids first and elevate academics in Georgia in order for our kids to be able to compete. Competition makes all of us better. Thank you Cherokee Voters!!
A B Alcott November 10, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Becky, while I'll agree that competition is good in many situations, it isn't always beneficial in education. I am excited that it passed nonetheless. This is a great opportunity to allow for more experimentation in education, to find things that work, and get rid of policies that have been weighing down education here in Georgia for years. Jodi, I agree that I am tired of the divided community. However, we can not expect those that voted against the amendment to trust us or the legislators until we prove that we are in this for all children in Georgia. We must make sure that all people have an equivalent choice.

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