Early voting is underway in Long County and there are two items on the ballot — a countywide vote on SPLOST renewal and District 5 commissioner.
Residents of Long County are deciding whether a 1-percent special purpose local sales tax should be continued on sales and uses in the county for six years, raising approximately $3.5 million for capital projects.
The SPLOST vote is countywide, and has taken a back seat to the District 5 (Tibet area) race between Randall Klingensmith and Robert D. Parker.
Both men are running for to fill the unexpired term of Bobby Walker, who resigned in July.
Based on social media posts on a popular Facebook page for Long County residents, that race has fostered heated debate.
Proponents of Parker say Klingensmith doesn’t deserve to win because he is suing the county. On the other side, Klingensmith’s supporters say Parker shouldn’t win due to his past.
Klingensmith lives in the Vickers Hill subdivision and posted that he and other residents of the subdivision are involved in a multi-party lawsuit against the county and the developers of the subdivision.
“We are seeking to fix what was broken,” Klingensmith wrote, adding they want road and drainage repairs. “Our roads are failing, the drainage is getting worse and it is not what we bought into in 2012.”
The Courier has reported similar complaints against the county by residents who live in the Burnt Pines and Crawford at Doctors Creek subdivision.
Parker was arrested in 2010 on charges of arson, insurance fraud and violation of an oath by public officer. At the time, Parker was fired as a deputy at the Long County Sheriff’s Office.
In December 2008, Parker lost his home to a fire. That fire was ruled an accident. In June 2010 Parker’s residence also burned.
Investigators ruled that incident arson, but that case never went to trial.
In November 2014, court records show the arson was reduced to criminal trespass and the other two charges were not prosecuted.
Parker was sentenced to 12 months of probation, fined $1,000 and ordered to do 40 hours of community service. According to public record, Parker had already completed the community service hours in August 2014.
The social media debate has become so heated that administrators of the Facebook page, We the People of Long County, removed many of the postings.
Some users asked the candidates to post their qualifications, accomplishments, civic involvement and platforms.
Klingensmith has posted his platform. Parker has yet to post his.
The Courier emailed a questionnaire to both candidates.