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Several Terrell County offices highlight election

DAWSON, Ga. — The Terrell County race for judge of Magistrate Court is interesting in that one of the candidates says he wants to eliminate the non-partisan position in future elections.

Winfred L. Hooks, 58, retired from Federal State Inspection Service, said the county could save a lot of money by turning over magistrate duties to the probate judge. Terrell’s population, it could be legally done.

According to Hooks, the elimination of the magistrate position could come only at the end of an existing four-year term — a term Hooks says he would relinquish voluntarily. Hooks and his wife, Pam, have two adult children and have lived in Terrell County since 1965.

On Tuesday, Hooks is challenging Linda Freeman, who has held the position of chief magistrate for the past 16 years. A resident of Terrell County for 42 years, she and her husband, Gary, have two adult children.

“The reason I became a judge is so the public could have a judge they can trust and so they can know they will be heard and treated fairly,” Freeman said.

There is no incumbent in the non-partisan race for probate judge this election year, though Carol Speir serves currently as chief clerk of the Probate Court. Speir believes her 17 months of experience in that position qualifies her to be Probate Judge.

“Experience is the best teacher,” Speir said, “I’ve had the distinct advantage of having learned from an excellent teacher.”

Speir, 55, was raised in Terrell County, she said. She and her husband, Roy, have one child.

Running against Speir for probate judge is Sondra “Sandra” Rivers, a 19-year employee of the Terrell County Sheriff’s Office. Rivers pledges an “open door” policy and to always be on call.

“I’m running to give the taxpayers what they are paying for,” Rivers said.

Rivers holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and is married with two children.

On the Democratic ballot, David Dennard Jr. is challenging incumbent James C. Hamby for the office of coroner.

Dennard is 42, married, and has lived in Terrell County most of his life, he said. A retired paramedic, Dennard is working toward his certification as an echocardiology technician.

“The coroner position is something I’m familiar with,” Dennard said. “Working on an ambulance, I’ve experienced the passing of a lot of people. I know exactly how the coroner process is done.”

Hamby, 53, will complete 12 years as coroner this term. He and his wife, Pattie, have three children, have spent most of their lives in Terrell County and they know “virtually everyone,” he said.

“In the coroner’s office, experience is crucial,” Hamby said. “The people you meet there have just had a heartbreaking event. It’s delicate and you have to be able to handle the situation with the least amount of pain.”

Running unopposed on the non-partisan ballot for Board of Education are John L Gardner, District 1; Michael Oxford, District 2; Mellean Davis, District 3; Ray C. Moses, District 4, and Albert Crumbley, District 5.

Other unopposed candidates, all incumbents, are Peggy H. Pritchard, tax commissioner; Janice S. Bryant, Superior Court clerk; Phonso E. Donaldson, treasurer; John W. Bowens, sheriff, and Wilbur T. Gamble Jr., chairman, Terrell County Commission.