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Party politics become problem in House District 106 election

While countless Republican stalwarts are backing Melvin Everson in the House District 106 race, party officials are trying to remain neutral.

Local party Chairman Gregory Howard sent out a letter to party members last week after reports that he encouraged third-place candidate Garry Rhodes to endorse

Everson.

Howard said he actually encouraged Rhodes to consider Everson before making a decision on endorsements. Howard said he was simply trying to keep Rhodes from making a rash decision after the political contention between the two.

Warren Auld, who came in second during Tuesday's special election and will face Everson in a runoff, said he is inquiring into the issue.

"It sounds to be like there's some confusion" about the telephone conversation.

But Auld said there could be a problem if party officials say they will be neutral and then endorse candidates.

"There is a trust issue," he said.

Everson has been endorsed by some heavy-lifters in the Republican party, including U.S. Rep. John Linder, R-Duluth, District 3 Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, Sheriff Butch Conway and District Attorney Danny Porter. Buzz Brockway, the past chairman of the party, is running his campaign.

But Howard said current party officials are staying out of the race. Although it's nonpartisan, Everson, Auld and Rhodes are all members of the Republican Party.

"It is the job of the Gwinnett Republican Party to assist all Republicans that feel the call to serve," Howard wrote in his letter. "I would like to thank all three gentlemen for their time and commitment to seek elected office and look forward to working closely with the soon to be elected representative of House District 106."

City elections are already

getting interesting

Last week, Suwanee Councilman Jace Brooks raised more than $5,300 in a fundraiser held at the home of Jason and Julianne Thompson.

Brooks was elected three years ago in a special election. He's currently Suwanee's mayor pro tempore.

"While we have been blessed to accomplish so much over the past three years, we still have a number of challenges ahead," he said. "I look forward to building upon our successes and tackling those challenges."

Brooks said his top priorities are the greenspace and town center efforts, fiscal responsibility, the Police Department, addressing problems and opportunities around Interstate 85 and managing growth.

Julianne Thompson is the former vice chairman of the Republican Party who just joined the Planning Commission, and her husband was the campaign manager for George Thorndyke's Commission District 1 race last year.

Another political race

The State Transportation Board will be up to its full complement of 13 members just in time for a vote next month that could determine the future of passenger rail in Georgia.

State lawmakers from the 4th Congressional District will gather at the Capitol on Tuesday to elect a successor to longtime board member and former Chairman Brad Hubbert, of Lithonia, who resigned unexpectedly in June.

While most of the 4th District is in DeKalb County, it also extends into the Peachtree Corners area of Gwinnett County. Thus, Reps. Tom Rice, R-Norcross, and Pedro Marin, D-Duluth, and Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Norcross, are among the 28 legislators who will be eligible to vote.

The board is scheduled to hold a public hearing Sept. 14 on a planned commuter-rail line linking Atlanta with suburban Lovejoy. A vote could follow that day.

Although of direct concern only to the metro area's southern suburbs, the fate of that project is expected to determine whether the state moves forward with a second rail line that would connect Atlanta and Athens by way of Gwinnett County.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Staff writer Dave Williams contributed to this report. Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.