The endorsement came by way of a letter from nine business leaders, most of whom were, uncoincidentally, prominent backers of this summer’s unsuccessful TSPLOST referendum.
Stoner also was a backer of the TSPLOST— which made the eight-year veteran of the Senate a rarity among the Cobb legislative delegation. The TSPLOST would have imposed a 1 percent sales tax in the metro area for 10 years. But Cobb voters rejected the tax by a 69-31 percent margin and metro voters did so by 63-37 percent.
Stoner is locked in a heated re-election campaign against Republican Hunter Hill of Smyrna, who did not take a position on the TSPLOST.
The letter, mailed Thursday, was typed on “Republicans for Doug Stoner” letterhead. It was signed by co-chairmen Rob Garcia, president of the Bank of North Georgia, and Bob Prillaman, retired senior VP of Caraustar Industries in Austell, both of whom had let Stoner know it was coming.
Others listed on the letterhead as members are Jim Rhoden, chairman of the Futren Corp., Tad Leithead, who chairs the Atlanta Regional Commission, homebuilder Barry Teague of Walton Communities, Bob Voyles, principal of Seven Oaks Co., Michael Paris, president and CEO of the Council for Quality Growth, and Ben Mathis, partner in the Cobb law firm Freeman Mathis & Gary. All seven have publicly supported Stoner’s candidacy either financially or by hosting events on his behalf, according to Liz Flowers, director of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Stoner’s most recent Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report from June 30 lists Rhoden as a $750 donor to his campaign but did not indicate financial support from any of the others.
Hill told Around Town on Monday that some of the seven were surprised to see their names on the letter.
“Some of the people in the left column were not aware of the letter and told me they were very disappointed that their name was used,” he said, but added he had not talked to the entire list.
“I do not think this letter is going to call into question my credentials as a Republican nor the support that I’m expecting it will get from Republicans,” added Hill.
WROTE Prillaman and Garcia for the nine: “As Republicans, it is not very often that we choose to support a Democrat for any office. This year we are voting Republican for almost every state and national office, but there is a Democrat we must support.
“Senator Doug Stoner has earned our endorsement. He deserves your vote.
“Senator Stoner has been in the legislature for ten years. During that time he has repeatedly impressed us with his reasonable, common-sense attitude and his willingness to move beyond partisanship to work for what is really important — improving the economy and creating jobs in Georgia. …
“Over the years, we have come to respect and trust Senator Doug Stoner. We can count on him to work for independent, common-sense solutions — putting principal over partisanship and fighting for the concerns we all share.
“Please join us in supporting Doug Stoner for Georgia State Senate.”
The letter also lists several initiatives Stoner has supported, such as the creation of an independent state Ethics Commission and the launch of the Georgia Taxpayer Receipt, allowing citizens to go online to see how the state is spending their tax dollars.
But nowhere in the letter do the nine mention the TSPLOST, or even the word “transportation,” even though the need for transportation improvements is usually among the top two or three issues in most local races, and even though Stoner has carved a reputation in the Legislature as one of his party’s most knowledgeable lawmakers on that issue.
The guess here is that the TSPLOST is still too much of a hot-button issue, especially in a district like the newly redrawn District 6, which now sweeps deeply into Buckhead and is heavily Republican.
THE NATIONAL and international media poured into Cobb to cover the three-week-long saga of the Waseem Daker murder trial in Judge Mary Staley’s courtroom. “Dateline NBC,” “20/20,” Court TV and “Inside Edition” have all had reporters on the story at some point since the trial began Sept. 10.
The story of the 1995 murder of Karmen Smith and savage but nonfatal stabbing of her young son, Nick, even went international, with a crew from Japan’s Fuji TVs top rated morning news magazine, “Tokudane,” visiting for a few days. Those producers said the jury system is new in Japan, and television cameras are not allowed at all, which makes any glimpse of court cases interesting to viewers there. The trial, which at times was bizarre, with the defendant representing himself, concluded Monday with Staley sentencing Daker to the maximum possible, life in prison plus 47 and a half years, with the possibility of parole.
Meanwhile, Cobb lawyer Jason Shepherd tells Around Town he was a high school classmate of Daker at Chattahoochee High in north Fulton, where both were members of the Academic Bowl team.
“I remember he was smart kid and a hard worker, but not someone who was easy to get to know,” Shepherd said. “I’ve talked to several of my friends who I am still in touch with from his class and no one seems to remember him. However, from what I can recall, he was the type of person that I figured the next time I heard of him he would be working in a research lab somewhere, not on trial for murder.”
LOOKING BACK: Historical novelist and documentary filmmaker Richard Croker of east Cobb, author of “To Make Men Free: A Novel of The Battle of Antietam,” will be speaker at Thursday’s Cobb County Civil War Roundtable at the Kennesaw State University Center, 3333 Busbee Drive in Kennesaw. Go to www.cobbcwrt.org. ...
And The Civil War Center at KSU is gearing up for its Fall Symposium, “1862: Following the Path to Freedom” Oct. 13. Featured will be professors Howard Jones from the University of Alabama, talking about diplomacy; and Craig Symonds, previously with the U.S. Naval Academy, talking about Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation; and George Wunderlich, director of the National Civil War Medical Museum, reports Michael Shaffer. Go to www.kennesaw.edu/civilwarera.
COBB SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER DAVID BANKS was at it again Thursday when he asked Board Attorney Clem Doyle to clarify what the role of a liaison is, specifically when serving on the district’s Facilities and Technology Committee. The seat is currently held by west-central Cobb’s Alison Bartlett.
“This year there has been, I think, considerable discussions and opinions by the liaison, which I think is inappropriate, so I just question the role that the liaison is playing right now,” Banks said during the group’s Board Business portion of the night meeting.
Doyle said, “I would say that the touchstone of a committee liaison would be serving as a channel of communication from the committee back to the board and I think that’s what’s been contemplated as this policy for your committees that’s evolved over the last several years. My general understanding would be to serve as the eyes and the ears to the board on that committee.”
Nobody else on the board spoke to Banks’ statements, including Bartlett, but there were a few questionable looks on members’ faces as he commented. ...
School board Chair Scott Sweeney will host a Town Hall Monday at 7 p.m. at Wheeler High School off Holt Road. The proposed SPLOST IV that goes before voters in March is sure to come up.
MORE POLITICS: Cobb’s Republicans and Democrats have scheduled viewing parties for Wednesday night’s presidential debates. Cobb Democrats will gather at the Brunswick Zone XL Kennesaw and at Varners’ Restaurant and Tavern in Smyrna.
Cobb Republicans, meanwhile, will be watching at Tijuana Joe’s Cantina on Johnson Ferry Road in east Cobb and at El Nopal Mexican Restaurant across from the Wal-Mart on North Cobb Parkway. …
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle will be the speaker at Saturday’s Cobb GOP Breakfast. The 8-9:30 a.m. gathering will be at Cobb GOP headquarters, 799 Roswell St., Marietta. For more, contact Joe Dendy at (770) 820-6545. …