Six people are running for an open seat on the Monroe County commission.

The vacancy happened after commissioner Jim Ham died in an accident late last year.

One of the big issues in the race is whether to raise taxes to try to protect the Monroe County Hospital.

"I've been behind it from the very start. It took years for it to be in the shape that it's in now and it's going to take us a while to turn it around," says Chris Ham.

Ham says the hospital's emergency room is essential and Jimmy Jones agrees.

He says the hospital is better for the county's economy, and he is asking voters to ask themselves "Are you a part of this community?' And if so, then it's an easy answer to vote for the hospital," Jones says.

Eddie Rowland says the hospital needs to stay for convenience.

"There are a lot of citizens in this area that it's difficult for them to get to Macon or other areas for health care," says Rowland.

Jay Patterson says after knocking on doors, virtually everyone he spoke to is in favor of saving the hospital, so he is going with what the people want.

He's looking at the long term effects it can have.

"People coming into the county looking to invest in the county want emergency care in the county," Patterson says.

John Martin disagrees. He says the hospital has been around long enough.

He said he's not seeing growth in the county because of it, and wants to find an alternative source of health care.

"I think we need the best we can provide for our citizens, but I also believe that needs to be the best we can get without putting the burden on the back of taxpaying citizens," Martin says.

Earl Jackson is the only candidate who won't take a side, and says he just wants to put this decision in the hands of the voters.

"It's hard to make a decision that affects so many people's lives and livelihoods. You can't take it lightly," says Jackson.

He said he's waiting until March 21st to make his decision.

So will the tax in Monroe County be raised 1 mill to save the hospital?

It all depends on who you vote to be your next District 2 Commissioner.