For the three candidates vying to be Statesboro's mayor for the next four years, Tuesday night's vote count could be decisive. Or, this general election result could send two candidates to a Dec. 5 runoff.
But the countywide Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum is almost certain to be decided now. It asks a yes-no question on extending for five years the ESPLOST, which is one of two 1 percent sales taxes that go to the Bulloch County Schools. Polls are open 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. in 16 precincts across the county in the ESPLOST referendum.
But Statesboro residents voting in the mayoral election must vote in their assigned city precinct, either at the William James Educational Complex or at Pittman Park United Methodist Church. So some residents will vote in two places if they want to vote in both elections.
Candidate John Grotheer has prevented the mayoral race from being simply a rematch between fellow challenger Jonathan McCollar and incumbent Mayor Jan Moore.
"I encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote for the candidate of their choice," Grotheer said Monday. "I would be honored to serve as your next mayor, and if given the opportunity, I will give you my commitment to listen and be your voice as we work together for a better future but preserve the character and charm of our beautiful city and maintain the quality of life here in this great city of Statesboro."
Grotheer asserts that, as a retiree, he is the only one of the candidates who could devote full-time to service as mayor and being accessible to the public. The other two have other jobs, McCollar as assistant campus director for Armstrong State University's Liberty Campus in Hinesville, Moore as vice president for economic development at Ogeechee Technical College.
Although never an elected official, Grotheer retired in July after a 20-year career in public administration, first as city clerk and finance director with the city of Covington and later as finance director for Bryan County, where he was briefly interim county administrator. He has been a Statesboro resident since February 2014.
McCollar and Moore, who both grew up in Statesboro, finished the 2013 mayoral election in a runoff that Moore won by a margin of 93 votes out of a total of 1,867 cast.
"What I want to say to the voters as they go to the polls is it's time for real change within the city of Statesboro, McCollar said Monday. "It's time for leadership that's in tune enough with the people to address the real issues, and it's time to elect a mayor that's campaigning on solving those problems with real-world solutions."
"People over Politics" has been McCollar's theme during his 2017 campaign. He identifies poverty as Statesboro's most pressing problem, and proposes to focus on job creation and youth development and has suggested the city should work with other organizations to create a Children's Zone program.
Meanwhile, Moore is running on her record. She asserts that job growth is occurring and that she is working to bring increased educational and recreational opportunities.
"I did everything I said I was going to do, and we're now in a position to grow and redevelop and increase quality of life within the city for all of our citizens, to bring recreation back into the city," she said Monday. "You know, we have a strategic plan so we know exactly what our citizens want and which way to go, we've never had one of those before, and I'm very excited about the prospects of redevelopment on both South Main Street and West Main Street"