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Gaither defends Oxford council seat against two candidates
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The proud grandmother of 22 grandchildren, Amma Gaither faces two challengers for the Oxford Council Post 1 seat on Nov. 6: tax activist Frank Davis and pool supply store owner Kelly Ellis.

Running for a second term, Gaither says her platform is still much the same as it was four years ago.

"I'd like to see my town, one of the most beautiful towns in the state, stay as it is," Gaither said.

Davis, who is running for elected office for the first time, said there are a few changes he would like to see made in Oxford including the establishing a homestead tax exemption similar to the one Newton County has in place.

A homestead exemption, which is a property tax break, can only be claimed on property that is the owner's primary residence.

"There's no reason why Oxford shouldn't have it," Davis, 74, said.

In 2006 Davis formed an organization called Newton County Citizens for Tax Relief, which petitioned the Newton County Board of Education for a tax exemption from school taxes for senior citizens. The results of that effort resulted in a public referendum, which will be brought before Newton County voters in February.

Ellis, 49, who is also running for elected office for the first time, says he has had an interest in local politics for some time and has finally decided to run.

 "You reach a point where you say I can do what they're doing," Ellis said. "I've lived in Oxford all my life and just decided it was a good time to run."

Ellis, who owns his own business, Kelly's Pool Service, said he thinks he would be a good candidate to objectively look at things.

If re-elected to the council, Gaither said she would continue to work on beautifying the city's streets and the city's historical cemetery.

"I would love to see our little town made more beautiful," Gaither said. "I just want to work in the area that I am appointed to and do my best. Our streets, they are improving and I'm proud of the way we are carrying the cemetery out right now."

The current treasurer of The Oxford Historical Shrine Society and a member of the board of directors for the cemetery society, Davis says he is also concerned with maintaining Oxford's historical landmarks.

"We're working with keeping the old cemetery cleaned up and in good condition," Davis said.

Davis added he would like to see sidewalks built along Emory Street/ Ga. Highway 81, which stretches from Palmer Stone Elementary School to the Oxford town square.

"I don't desire a lot of commercial development in Oxford," Davis said. "I'd like to keep Oxford more or less what it is now - a nice place to live."

Gaither also said she did not want a lot of commercial development in the small city.

"I would like to see our little town stay as it is with not too much commercial stuff," Gaither said. "The things we have are great."

Gaither said she would be interested in seeing a shop or two brought into the city for residents to shop at as well as more parks within the city.

Davis said he sees the city's relationship with Oxford College as one of great importance.

"The school and the town are very much related and it's to the benefit of both that we cooperate with one another," Davis said.

While Gaither said she thinks the college has a great relationship with the city, she also said she would like to see a few changes take place in the city's dealings with the college.

"I would like to see it stay with the close relationship, maybe with a few changes," Gaither said.

In her four years on the council Gaither says she is particularly proud of the new maintenance building which the city recently completed.

Born and raised in Rutledge, Gaither moved to Oxford in 1957. A graduate of R.L. Cousins High School, Gaither later attended business school in Atlanta. Retired since 1992, she has worked for the Newton County School System as a substitute teacher, for Bibb Manufacturing Company in Porterdale as a weaving instructor and as an assistant for a private practice family doctor.

Gaither attends Russ Chapel United Methodist Church in Oxford where she is a lay speaker. She is also a volunteer with Keep Covington/Newton County Beautiful and a volunteer child advocate for Newton County Juvenile Court.

With her husband, Charles, Gaither has eight children and 22 grandchildren.

"I love the people and I love to work with the people," Gaither said.

A 1950 graduate of Oxford College, Davis has lived in Newton County for most of his life. After living off and on in Oxford for a period of years, Davis and his wife, Sarah, settled in Oxford permanently in 1993.

Now retired, Davis worked for several major airlines including Northwest, Southern and Republic. During his career he held a variety of positions including, station manager, cabin service manager, passenger service supervisor and ticket agent. A member of the Oxford Lions Club, Davis has served as the group's secretary for the past 12 years.

He and his wife are members of First United Methodist Church in Covington. They have five children, 23 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.