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6-6-11 AVOC Review of race for June 21 Special Election for GA House District 113

AVOC has accumulated information and links about all of the candidates and those links include (see below), the good, the bad and the ugly. The candidates are listed alphabetically.



June 4, 2011


AVOC Review of race for June 21 Special Election for GA House District 113


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc


I have known all four candidates for the House Special Election (June 21, 2011) for a long time:  Alan Alexander, Sarah Bell, Dan Matthews and Chuck Williams.  AVOC has accumulated information and links about all of the candidates and those links include (see below), the good, the bad and the ugly.   The candidates are listed alphabetically.


Alan Alexander


            I have known Alan Alexander for over forty years as a fellow attorney.   We have interacted on many occasions but we have not been close friends.   I practiced little criminal law so we did not meet that much in the courtroom.   Alan is a very skillful and experienced trial attorney.  He now lives and has his office in Oconee County.


For much of my 41 years of law practice in Oconee County, I knew Alan as an “Athens Attorney” although he handled many cases in Oconee County, part of the Western Judicial Circuit along with Athens-Clarke County.    I never knew Alan to be that interested in politics or government.   Like all lawyers, (the author included), Alan has accumulated some baggage in his legal career.   An attorney friend once said, “We are disliked because half of the folks are on the other side of our cases and don’t like us and half of our clients don’t like us.”   Alan had a personal scrape with the law a few years ago that had died down but has been brought to life again with his candidacy.


Alan has a good military background that I respect.I think he is capable but he is not my first choice for my State Representative.


Sarah Bell


            I have known Sarah Bell for at least 15 or more years.   She was Chair of the Oconee County Republican Party in the late 90’s while I was Chairman of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.   I found her friendly and approachable.   Since 2000, I have felt some connection with Sarah because of the Coup (Coalition of Donald Norris, Melvin Davis, Bob Smith and Jim Ivey et al)) who took the nomination (to succeed me) away from Charlie Hoag and gave it to Melvin Davis.   The same group deposed Sarah and other members of the Oconee GOP Committee and have pretty much dominated it ever since.


I have not always agreed with Sarah on issues but respect her sincerity and dedication.   Sarah Bell almost defeated Melvin Davis in 2008 and, in my opinion, would have won if she had left the alcohol issue alone – and left it up to the voters.    Some of Melvin’s supporters called her “Wendell’s Candidate”.  They underestimated Sarah and the opposition to Melvin Davis.   I did support Sarah as did many others but Sarah is her own person.   Sarah decided to run on her own.   She is honest and dedicated and will listen to ALL voters.


Sarah Bell, like other candidates, has talked to me often over the years.  She is eager to learn and  to serve.   I think she will make a good public servant and she has my vote and support.


Dan Matthews


            I have known Dan Matthews for over 15 years.   He was a part-time employee with the Recreation Department at the John Brannen Building in the 90’s while I was Chairman of the BOC.   Dan is friendly and has often been supportive of my positions on issues.  He is very interested in the county.


Dan Matthews is a Democrat and an unabashed Liberal.   The first time I saw him and his auto, I knew he was of the liberal bent from stickers on his car- love-peace etc.    He has been blogging for years and advocates more spending on recreation, and acute medical facilities and other things.   Dan has not been forthcoming about taxes and paying for the things he supports.


Dan has crusaded for Obama and against Governor Deal, Congressman Broun and other Republicans.   He wrote a tacky article critiquing the other three candidates just before entering the House race himself.   See link below.   Dan is too liberal for me and, in my opinion, does not have the experience or background to be a State Representative for Oconee County.


Chuck Williams


            I have known Chuck Williams for over 30 years and his family much longer.   He is a native of Oconee County and as a young man (ca 1980) served a term on the Watkinsville City Council while I was City Attorney.  I have interacted with him in County and Banking circles over the years.    Chuck is friendly, capable and likable.  


Chuck’s mother, Mildred Williams, was a great friend.   She was a friendly and nice person.  She played the piano at Veterans, Memorial and Christmas functions while I was Chairman.   Mildred died October 28, 2010.   She and the Williams kin will draw many votes to Chuck.


Chuck has been active in Forestry & Agriculture for several years.He is a friend and big supporter of Gary Black, State Ag Commissioner.   Like others, I thought Chuck would wind up with a prominent position at the Department of Agriculture.   Chuck told me he did not want to move from Oconee County and I believe him.


Chuck Williams has been active with the Chamber, Development Authority and “plugged in” to the Oconee Establishment, especially in the last 11 years since the opening of North GA Bank.  The failure of North GA Bank is a strike against Chuck.  The economy did go south but not all banks have gone under.    The real estate development started on Chuck’s family property on U S 441 in Watkinsville stalled and was bailed out by the Oconee County School Board in late 2009 with a large land purchase that was controversial.   See links below.


Chuck was awfully close to Don Norris and Melvin Davis during the Boom Times when some bad decisions were made on Water, Sewer and Development.   The Banks and our county are experiencing difficulties now because of some of those policies.  


Chuck has many friends and family members who support him.    He has a lot of signs and supporters- many where owners go with the perceived “establishment” candidates.   Chuck is a formidable candidate.   However, his closeness to the Melvin Davis, Don Norris, Jim Ivey etc  clique gives me pause in supporting him for State Representative.

GA House District 113 Candidate Links


Bell Hopes to Take Volunteer Passion to Gold Dome –Oconee Patch - 6.1.11


   The veteran educator is running for the open 113th District State House seat.

  A lifelong volunteer, Sarah Bell sees elected office as another opportunity to give back to her community.

    Bell, who has lived in Athens or Oconee County since 1978, when she came to graduate school at the University of Georgia, has spent the majority of her life as an educator, Red Cross volunteer and advocate for stray cats and dogs. Now, she’s running for the District 113 State House seat, hoping to take her public service passion to Atlanta.

   “The Red Cross and animal thing are all service oriented; this is another avenue to serve the people in,” said Bell, 56, who has worked as an educator for 30 years, including the last five at Gainesville State College. “I was urged by many friends to seek this office. It was not something that I had been really thinking about.”…………….


Business Veteran Williams Looks to Win House Seat- Oconee Patch -6.2.11


   Williams, a former banker, has a passion for agriculture and forestry and prides himself on community values.    

    Just a couple of months ago, Chuck Williams reached a crossroads in his life.

He had stepped away from the banking industry, and wasn’t sure what he’d do next. So Williams spent time on his several hundred-acre tree farm in southern Oconee County, and watched the sunrise.

“I retreated to the farm and worked,” Williams said. “It was just sort of watching the sun come up every morning and thinking, “OK Williams, you’re 55, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?’”………


Community-Oriented Matthews Hopes to Represent 'Mainstream' – Oconee Patch – 6.1.11


   Dan Matthews, a political junkie, sports fan and devoted father, is the only Democrat running in the June 21 State House election.

   Dan Matthews is a legal secretary by day and a devoted father by night. He’s a Georgia Bulldogs fan and a political junkie who enjoys basketball and soccer. And now, he’s one thing more: the only Democratic candidate for the 113th District Georgia House of Representatives seat.

   Matthews, who had previously been serving as chairman of the Oconee County Democratic Committee, is one of four candidates running in the June 21 special election......


Alexander Brings Passion for Family and the Law to House Race- Oconee Patch -6.3.11


   The first thing you see in Alan Alexander's office is the pictures of his children, school photos, sports teams, and a few more candid shots. Alexander, an Oconee County attorney,………..


   "I've got six children," he said. "Two of them are still rather small - my daughter attends Oconee County Elementary and my son attends Oconee County Middle School.   I spent a lot of my life coaching youth sports and Little League. Now, they're beyond dad's coaching, so I don't have as much call to do that as I once had. I've got the time to pay back a debt I feel like I owe."……

    Alexander himself has been on the wrong side of the law. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges – simple assault, battery, and criminal trespass – in connection with a 2004 incident where Alexander and another man entered an Athens house in search of his daughter's then-boyfriend.   Police reports indicate that Alexander threatened one of the men in the house, and punched him.

   The boyfriend, who was not at the house when Alexander arrived, had been arrested earlier in the day for threatening Alexander's daughter, but posted bond and was released from jail. Alexander says he was worried about his daughter's safety.

   “I was in a situation where I was called upon by my daughter when she was being victimized,” Alexander said. “She contacted me and she was in imminent danger. I acted as I think a father under those circumstances would act. I tried to protect her. I regret the incident occurred, but I did what I felt like I had to do.”

   As part of his 2007 plea bargain, Alexander paid a fine and served four years of probation………


Bell Gets Right to Life Endorsement for House Seat – Oconee Patch – 6.3.11


The political action committee of Georgia Right to Life announced its endorsement Friday for Sarah Bell in the June 21 special election for the 113th District state House of Representatives seat.

"It is our hope that Ms. Bell’s support and leadership in the Georgia General Assembly will be essential in restoring the basic right to life for all Georgians," the PAC said in a news release………….


Sarah Bell run for State House – Dan Matthews Blog – 5.8.11


    I hope Sarah Bell does run for the 113th Special Election for the Statehouse. She is very well spoken and concerned about Oconee County and yet not beholden to corporate interests like at least one of the other announced candidates. I think she would siphon a significant portion of the Chuck Williams support. However I must counsel this: no one wants to be teased like the current Chair of the Board of Commissioners did with the dance around the seat formerly held by Hank Huckaby. I would be happy to support her in the seemingly inevitable run off but only if she announces as soon as possible……


Dan Matthews Blog - Oconee County, GA Politics





   I want someone to fight for and protect Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department, not question and continue to trim the budget to the point where there are less and less offerings and facilities.  I want someone who will fight for Oconee County in Atlanta.

   The candidate who tells me they are going to work for Oconee County to get a state park around Elder Mill Covered Bridge would get my vote. The candidate who says we need to build more sidewalks and bike paths in Oconee County would receive my enthusiastic support. The candidate who would pledge to try new solutions to the old development problems would get my engrossment. The candidate capable  of creatively solving some of Oconee County's problems and working with our neighbors (yes, Clarke County) would get my vote. The candidate who pledges to support our teachers and Sheriff's Office employees in the best ways would go a long way toward getting my support. The candidate who would fight to keep the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conservation Center open would receive my stamp of approval. So far I see none of this in any of the announced candidates.

   The candidate who can help broker Oconee Futbol Club into the front of Southwire to play soccer again there would garner my wholehearted support. The candidate who would stand up to the railroads to clean up the trash on the tracks and convert rails to trails would win my vote. The candidate who realizes the need for fully paid firefighters and first responders would receive my very public endorsement.


Oconee Needs ER Alternatives – Dan Matthews -Oconee Patch -3.21.11


………….I would like to see an acute care facility in Oconee where you could take your child with a severe sports injury, a small hunting accident or a bleeding bite by a dog or snake and remain confident in competent care quickly and professionally offered. I realize that medical professionals are not going to consult me for their next decision on what to build where, but there is a need for something 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week to take care of minor medical emergencies and problems short of having a limb removed by a chainsaw. 


Meet Alan Alexander – Athens-Clarke Republican Committee -5.18.11


   Local attorney, Alan Alexander (R-Watkinsville) officially qualified for the State House District 113 on Monday. Hank Huckaby resigned the seat to become the next Chancellor of the University System. 

    Said Alexander, "I am excited to officially be in the race for the State House. I've served our country in the US Army. I've served our community through youth league sports. I've built a business here and am raising my family here. Now I want to serve our families in the State House. We need a leader we can trust to fight for our families, respect our tax dollars and protect our schools. That's why I'm running."

   Alan also announced his campaign leadership team comprised of respected citizens across the district: …………….

Alan McFarland Alexander, 59, of 1221 Summit Drive in Watkinsville, Arrested.2004

The Athens Banner-Herald -April 16, 2004


Local attorney arrested on charges of burglary, aggravated assault

5.26.11 House Candidate Alan Alexander defends actions in assault case

The Athens Banner-Herald    May 26, 2011

..Candidate defends actions in assault case – 5.26.11-ABH – Blake Aued


   A candidate for state House of Representatives pleaded guilty in 2007 to assaulting a University of Georgia student three years earlier.

    Alan Alexander, an Oconee County lawyer running for an open Athens-area House seat in a June 21 special election, threatened and punched the man while trying to locate his daughter's abusive then-boyfriend, according to police and court records.

    "My actions were those of a father attempting to protect his daughter from a rogue with a history of both physically and mentally abusing her," Alexander wrote in an email Wednesday. "My conduct was that of a father who believed his child was in immediate peril……..

Sarah Bell announces candidacy for House 5.10.11

    The Athens Banner-Herald - May 10, 2011


.    Bell announces candidacy for House

….Bell teaches at Gainesville State College and runs a tutoring and consulting business. She ran against Oconee County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis in 2008, losing by just 100 votes……….


Chuck Williams - House hopeful explains bank failure –ABH-5.30.11


   Chuck Williams thought he had a solid business plan when he and other Oconee County residents started North Georgia Bank in 2000.

   The real estate market was booming, and a national company had just bought out one of two local banks. At first, Williams' bank was successful, but eight years later, the economy crashed, and in February, North Georgia Bank became the 55th in Georgia to fail since 2008.

Now, Williams is running for state House of Representatives and answering questions about the bank failure. Voters and other candidates in the June 21 special election have wondered why someone who could not run a bank should be entrusted with tax dollars.

   "The fact that the bank failed is not a point of pride for me, but it's not a point of shame or embarrassment, either," Williams said.

    It started out promisingly enough. Williams and a small group of other initial investors saw an opening when one community bank joined the Synovus chain while Oconee County was in the midst of explosive growth. They ponied up $ 1 million of their own and sold stock to 400 others in 1999, raising a total of $ 5.3 million.

    "As a community bank, we tried to be all things to all people, but almost from Day 1, our portfolio had a substantial concentration on residential construction lending," Williams said.

    The story that followed is an oft-told one. The bank grew, making loans to builders and developers who could not keep up with demand for homes and stores as new residents moved in and property values skyrocketed. Williams even served a stint leading the Georgia Bankers Association.

   Then a recession hit in 2007, and the real estate bubble burst a year later.


Chuck Williams declares for House seat

The Oconee Enterprise - April 29, 2011- by Blake Giles


    Chuck Williams, formerly president of North Georgia Bank in Watkinsville, has announced that he will run for the 113th District House seat left vacant by Hank Huckaby’s appointment as chancellor of the University System of Georgia.
    “I am not doing this to scratch some political itch,” Williams said. “I know it sounds like a cliché, but I am doing it to offer my background and skills and contacts and knowledge to the people of the district.”
Williams three weeks ago completed an eight-week transition assignment with BankSouth, which purchased North Georgia Bank after it was closed by the FDIC. He was reassessing career options, including retirement, when the seat came open.
     Williams said he is not a political junkie, but he has been involved in the political process since he ran for and was elected to the Watkinsville City Council when he was 21 and still an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia 34 years ago.

   He has chaired the Oconee Industrial Development Authority and served as an officer with the Georgia Banking Association. He was recently appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the board of the Georgia Forestry Commission. In the 2010 campaign, he was one of the key workers for Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black………..…..


Oconee BOE spends $ 900K on land for office ABH – 1.15.10


   The Oconee County Board of Education paid less than appraised value for land it bought last month for a new school system headquarters, board Chairman David Weeks said.

    But the board has no immediate plans to build a new administrative office for the Oconee County School System, Weeks said. The main office now is crammed into an old elementary and high school building on School Street, five blocks away.

    "We've been looking at options for about five years and, when that property went up for sale, we looked and saw that it fit our needs," he said. "We're not planning on building a central office there anytime soon. That's a long-range plan."

   The board used $ 900,000 in sales tax revenue to buy 6.6 acres on North Main Street, just north of Experiment Station Road in Watkinsville.

   The Oconee County Tax Assessor lists the value of the land at $ 692,000, but an independent appraiser valued the land at $ 940,000, Weeks said.

    The land belonged to Charles Williams, the president of North Georgia Bank, and David Williams, a former school board member. The brothers intended to build apartments on the property before the economy soured, Weeks said.

    The board voted 3-1 last month to purchase the land with money initially set aside for a road around Oconee Elementary, Primary and Middle schools………..


12-9-05 Update on Missing Oconee Veterans Memorial Funds



AVOC -    December 8, 2005

Jim Ivey has been called “Mr. Oconee Republican” by some of us in recent years. He has been the contact and spokesman for visiting Republican Dignitaries…. Mr. Ivey was one of the principal players (along with Commissioner Donald Norris, Rep. Bob Smith and then Planning Commission member, Jim Luke, in the (Republican) substitution of Melvin Davis for Charlie Hoag in August 2000 to succeed me - more details below….