With most local races decided before they begin (13 of 15 city council seats in Newton County are uncontested), the focus is on the Covington’s lone race between incumbent Councilman Chris Smith and challenger Maurice Carter, husband of former Covington mayor Kim Carter.
The News is asking readers to submit questions for either or both candidates; questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted on Facebook.
The News is also seeking questions for candidates in the other contestedrace between Mansfield incumbents Lisa Dunn and Larry Cummins. Cummins is switching seats to run against Dunn.
The News offered invitations to both Smith and Carter to participate in a forum or in-person video interview, but Smith declined, saying , “We are coming down to the line, and I have only so many nights that I can get out and see people.
"I feel me going door to door is serving my community much more than holding a public forum and still contest that it's in the best interest to get more face time seeing people than less than a month from the election doing a forum when early voting starts Monday," Smith said, adding he was going door-to-door Tuesday night. "I am and have always been very open and transparent with my voters."
Carter said he was willing to do a forum or video interview.
“I’m disappointed Chris Smith refuses to join me to discuss issues that matter to our fellow citizens. I’ve accommodated every date proposed by The Covington News, while he has only made excuses. The voters deserve the chance to compare and contrast our credentials, visions, and approaches to issues and opportunities facing Covington. Mr. Smith has had four years to build a resume to stand on, so why hide now? He avoided scrutiny by running unopposed in 2009, but this time voters have a choice,” Carter said in an email.
Carter said he has clearly articulated his credentials, platform and future plans if elected through his website, electmaurice.com, social media and door-to-door campaigning.
"I believe wholeheartedly in what I have to offer the people of Covington. Voters must ask if Mr. Smith can truthfully say the same," Carter said.
Both candidates have said they are willing to answer written questions submitted by readers.
Smith ran unopposed in 2009, when he replaced retiring councilman John Howard. He is co-owner of Newton Electric Supply, where he runs day-to-day operations.
He is on the advisory committee at Georgia Piedmont Technical College for the paramedic program, is the city’s representative on the Newton College and Career Academy Board of Directors, is a member of the funding group at The Center for Community Preservation and Planning, and is chairman of the administrative board at Covington First United Methodist Church, where he also serves on the finance committee.
Carter is a delivery project executive with IBM Global Services, where he has worked for 17 years and works with a portfolio of $2.9 billion in revenue.
He is a board member and past chair of nonprofit Newton Trails, a board member with Smart Growth Newton County, a committee member with the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce’s Tourism Advisory Committee and is a former board member for the Washington Street Community Center.
To read the in-depth questionnaires The News sent to the candidates previously, click on this link and click on the attached PDFs. The questionnaires covered platform, professional experience, education, civic involvement, any criminal background issues, financial background and voting history. As the incumbent, Smith was also asked about his prior platform issues.
City elections will take place Nov. 5; voter registration has ended for city elections, according to the Georgia Secretary of State's website.
Early voting starts Oct. 14 and ends Nov. 1. Early voting for the Covington race is from 8 a.m. to 5p.m., Monday through Friday at the Newton County Board of Elections, 1113 Usher St., Covington.
The actual Election Day voting will take place at Covington City Hall and Mansfield City Hall for the respective races.