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Posted: October 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Mitcham says HBA quietly endorsing his opponent

Availability of his campaign signs questioned by candidate

 Though the Newton County Home Builders Association has not officially endorsed anyone in the District 3 race for Board of Commissioners, Keith Mitcham, one of the candidates for that seat, said they have tacitly endorsed his opponent, Nancy Schulz.

Mitcham, a Republican, said he has not been given the same treatment by HBA as Schulz, a Democrat.

At issue is whether an invitation to Schulz to drop off campaign signs at HBA headquarters was also extended to Mitcham.

Andrea Hammond, executive officer of the county HBA, said the decision was made not to endorse anyone in the District 3 race because "we met with both of [the candidates] and thought either one of them would represent Newton County very well."

Hammond said an offer had been made to both Mitcham and Schulz as well as the other candidates that have been endorsed by HBA to include campaign mailers in any HBA newsletter mailings and to drop off campaign yard signs at headquarters that can be picked up by interested members.

Bob Goucher, president of HBA, said the offer was extended to Mitcham over lunch some months back.

According to Mitcham, that offer was never made to him, which he sees as proof that the HBA has tacitly endorsed Schulz.

"The offer was never made before or after [the general primary] and if it were I would have declined because they are a special interest group," Mitcham said. "They are campaigning for my opponent by passing out signs."

An Aug. 15 issue of the HBA’s newsletter included a box inviting members to pick up campaign signs for Kathy Morgan, who has been endorsed for county chairman, and for Schulz. There was no mention of Mitcham in the box.

"The problem is, he is of the opinion and [incumbent county chairman] Aaron Varner is the same way that being anti-homebuilders is going to get you votes," said Goucher. [Former District 2 Commissioner] Ronnie Dimsdale tried that. He’s no longer in office."

HBA has also endorsed Democrat Randy Vinson in his race for the District 5 seat of the BOC. There has been no endorsement issued for the District 1 race by the homebuilders.

"I’m just really irritated at that political stance when we are part of the community," Goucher said. "We are some of the major taxpayers in this community. This industry has been one of the biggest supporters in the county."

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