State Rep. Andy Thomas sees a lot of work ahead for Putnam County in the area of school finances he said Tuesday evening as he watched the election returns on the second floor of the courthouse.
"The South Putnam situation has been developing for years," Thomas said of the financial crisis now facing the school system. "I've talked to a lot of concerned parents and teachers."
Those issues will likely come to the forefront of his re-election campaign, though he is currently unopposed heading toward the fall general election.
Thomas received 2,255 votes in Putnam County, and only 990 votes in his native Clay County. While Putnam County had only a 16.07 percent voter turnout with only 3,792 of more than 26,000 registered voters making it to the polls, Clay County had a 5.3 percent voter turnout with 4,989 ballots cast.
Thomas said one project he has been working on is whether the Putnamville Correctional Facility can convert some of its acreage back to private businesses. By July 1, he said, he hopes to have a report from the Department of Correction on the what land the facility can release and what can be developed to improve the tax base of the school district.
"One problem for South Putnam is it has no industrial tax base," Thomas said.
The D.O.C. owns several scattered parcels of land that officials have already agreed they can do without, he said. One of those areas is about 100 acres that lies along Manhattan Road.
"I'm confident we can do something with the land," he said.
As he observed Tuesday's election tallies, Thoms said he was disappointed with the low voter turnout in Putnam County, but not surprised.
"Every election is different. It's hard to say what motivates voters. But I'm confident about my campaign in the fall.