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Cox has early lead over Taylor as Dems' choice for governor

Secretary of State Cathy Cox continues to lead Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor in the race for next year's Democratic gubernatorial nomination, according to the latest poll.

Cox holds a strong advantage over Taylor, 56 percent to 36 percent, according to a survey of 803 likely Democratic primary voters conducted June 19 to 23 for the Cox campaign by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a national polling firm that once worked for former President Bill Clinton.

Cox led 49-42 among black voters, a group many political observers have expected to be among Taylor's strongest supporters.

Among black women, Cox held a 54-37 advantage, according to the poll.

Earlier surveys also had shown Cox ahead of Taylor and running close among likely general-election voters to Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The Greenberg poll had a margin of error of about 3.5 percent.

Bannister's first six months

It's been an eye-opener, Charles Bannister said of his first six months at the helm of Gwinnett County's government.

Before winning the county chairmanship last year, Bannister had been mayor of Lilburn and a Republican House member for two decades. Yet he described his first six months in office as "enlightening and fascinating."

"The sheer magnitude of the job has been a real eye-opener - meeting the needs of more than 700,000 citizens as chairman of a five-member Board of Commissioners is a challenge," Bannister wrote in a recent perspective sought by the Gwinnett Daily Post.

"But it has certainly been an enjoyable experience, providing me with the opportunity to make a positive difference for the people of the county I love."

Just months into office, Bannister was able to fulfill one campaign promise by raising the starting salaries of police officers to a more competitive level.

As a candidate, Bannister pledged to bring focus back to Gwinnett's aging communities and a month ago he helped launch a program to tackle blight.

"We will continue to make revitalization of our declining areas a priority. We are working on possible changes to county ordinances that would allow the free market to unleash its potential in the area of redevelopment of blighted properties. We are focusing resources on providing needed road and sewer infrastructure in the southern part of the county."

Bannister said another key initiative he's working on is bringing the county's commercial tax digest into balance with the residential portion. He said the county should see results on that by the end of the year.

"The future of Gwinnett is bright," he said.

District 3

Mike Beaudreau promised an open door when he was elected as District 3 commissioner, and for the past six months, he has done just that.

Beaudreau has set aside one Saturday a month for "Meetings with Mike," and more than 100 citizens have attended.

"Beginning this fall, you will be able to watch commission meetings live, both on the county's cable TV channel and over the Internet," he said. "This is yet another way residents can get a better sense of what their government is doing on their behalf."

Along with Bannister and Green, Beaudreau listed a rise in public safety salaries and a code enforcement push as two of his top accomplishments for the first six months in office.

The commissioner also has worked on revisions to the county's Conservation Subdivision Overlay, and he's pledging to keep property taxes low.

"These first six months have been a challenge - there's no doubt about that," he wrote. "I am excited with what we have accomplished, and I am confident that we will continue to be able to fulfill our goals to keep Gwinnett a great place to live."

Transportation talks

We'll get a little more insight into how the new board members operate on Tuesday, when the board considers a list of transportation projects earmarked for sales tax dollars.

Bannister has repeatedly spoken against a cross-county connector along the path of the now-defunct Northern Arc.

But a citizens' selection committee put $5 million for the road into the recommended list.

Other board members have said they will support a limited-access roadway, so the vote could represent a power play.

Camie Young can be reached at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com