Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 22, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 22, 2016

James Edward Oglethorpe was born in London, England, on December 22, 1696. He was elected to Parliament, where he worked on prison reform and had the idea of a new colony where “worthy poor” Brits could be sent. In 1732, Oglethorpe was granted a charter to create a colony of Georgia in the new world.

On December 22, 1775, the Continental Congress created the Continental Navy.

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony premiered on December 22, 1808 in Vienna, Austria.

Governor George Gilmer signed legislation that prohibited teaching slaves or free African-Americans to read or write on December 22, 1829.

Martha Bulloch and Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. were married at Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia on December 22, 1853. Their son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. would later be elected President of the United States.

On December 22, 1864, General William T. Sherman wired to President Abraham Lincoln from Savannah, Georgia,

His Excellency President LINCOLN:

I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.

W.T. Sherman,
Major General.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gov. Nathan Deal has named David Werner as his new Executive Counsel to the Governor.

Deal tapped David Werner, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), as Teague’s replacement. Werner will assume this position in January 2017.

“David Werner has served the Deal administration in a variety of capacities over the past six years, including on the 2010 and 2014 campaigns as well as in the governor’s official office. Rising from policy adviser to deputy executive counsel to Chief Operating Officer of the state, David has tackled each role with dedication, hard work and expertise,” said Chief of Staff Chris Riley. “David has the necessary skillset, institutional knowledge and executive experience to serve as counsel. He has the complete confidence of the governor and is a natural fit for the job.”

Georgia Republicans are stepping up to keep the 54th Senate District seat vacated by Sen. Charlie Bethel in GOP hands.

Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other Republican Senate leaders will host a fund raiser on Wednesday in Atlanta for Chuck Payne, the GOP candidate in Jan. 10’s special election runoff for Senate District 54.

In an email to supporters, Payne’s team notes that turnout is likely to be low.

“With Christmas coming in less than a week and the New Year’s Holiday to follow, voters will have plenty of distractions from this important election,” the email says. “The campaign needs your help now more than ever!  If you live in or have friends and family members in the district, please encourage them to get out and vote.”

Democrats, meanwhile, hope to pick off the seat as Peppers is seen as a Democrat despite the lack of party affiliation next to her name on the ballot.

Justin Tomczak, a Republican operative helping Payne, said the GOP blitz should come as no surprise.

“When you go on TV and say you are going to caucus with the Democrats if elected, don’t be surprised when the Republican party gets behind your opponent.”

Republican Chuck Payne and Democrat Nonpartisan Debby Peppers met in a forum earlier this week.

Chuck Payne wondered Tuesday evening whether his opponent tried to hide her political affiliation.

Payne, a Republican, asked Debby Peppers why she is running for the Georgia Senate as a nonpartisan candidate. Peppers said she has been a Democrat for 40 years, but she worried people wouldn’t pay attention to her opinions on issues in the region if she put a label next to her name.

“It bothers me a little bit,” she said during a candidate forum hosted by the Dalton Daily Citizen and the area League of Women Voters. “If we’re a two-party system, why is being a Democrat such a bad thing? It helps to bring balance.”

Peppers, in turn, questioned whether Payne can challenge leaders in Atlanta, pointing out that he will have to be loyal to the GOP. Payne told the crowd at Dalton’s city hall that he has no problem standing up to authority.

Payne painted Peppers as a liberal in a bright red region.

“The Democrats are trying to take this state Senate seat,” he wrote on his public Facebook page Dec. 11. “Let’s make sure this does not happen.”

Established Republicans have backed Payne. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel endorsed him Monday. And [] U.S. Congressman Tom Graves [attended] a fundraiser for Payne.

Peppers, meanwhile, has pushed back against the liberal label. Technically, she is running as a non-partisan candidate, though she has said she would caucus with the Democrats in Atlanta if elected.

The two candidates differ on the issue of whether to allow casino gambling in Georgia.

Chuck Payne, former chairman of the Whitfield County Republican Party, says he opposes legalizing gambling for the same reason he opposed the state lottery more than 20 years ago: it hurts the poor.

“Bob Shaw doesn’t go buy $100 worth of tickets on payday,” he said. Shaw is the founder and chairman of Engineered Floors and was the co-founder and long-time CEO of Shaw Industries.

Payne said poor people, desperate to escape their condition, will gamble money to the detriment of their families and children.

Debby Peppers, a former member of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, said she doesn’t “have strong feelings” either way on gambling.

“If they put it on the ballot and people vote for it, I can live with that,” she said.

In the nonpartisan race, candidates were allowed to list a party affiliation when qualifying. Payne listed Republican, while Peppers did not list a party affiliation.

She said Tuesday she did so because she wanted voters to judge her without a label by her name. But she said she has been a Democrat all of her life and would caucus with the Democrats if elected. Peppers noted a number of tax increases and fee increases passed by the Legislature since Republicans gained control more than a decade ago and said if voters elect someone just because of an “R” beside their name they can expect more of the same. She said she would consider each issue on its merits.

Early voting begins Tuesday. Voters do not have to have voted in the special election to vote in the runoff.

Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing ranks number one in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The School of Nursing secured $7.8 million in research grants, fellowships, training grants, and other awards from NIH in FY 2016, representing the highest NIH funding total in the school’s history.

“This new No. 1 ranking is a strong reflection of the breadth and depth of the School of Nursing’s research program and of our faculty’s dedication to the advancement of nursing knowledge and science,” says Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “Our faculty’s innovative research is translating into better health and quality of life for individuals, families, and communities around the world.”

Columbus City Council is considering allowing some employees to defer their retirement.

[T]he city would have to change its Deferred Option Retirement Plan to allow participants to voluntarily suspend their participation in that program and extend their full-time employment with the Columbus Consolidated Government for up to five additional years.

Councilor Glen Davis, a strong proponent of the amendment, said DROP, as it currently stands, doesn’t provide options for participants who need to continue working more than three years for various reasons.

“It was evident that several council members wanted to try to do something for the employees, because, quite frankly, today it’s just unforeseen times,” he said. “There are unforeseen circumstances that happen. I like to use the word ‘Awakening’ circumstances, whether it’s health matters, whether it’s financial matters, whether it’s college for kids, or just the need to continue working. Or, if you’ve got voids that lead to potential crisis in organizations, where you can’t fill two spots and keep the leadership, the experience and the right people in the right place.”

Davis said city officials have had difficulty recruiting and retaining employees for public safety and other jobs, and that concerns him. He said the proposal is for a DROP extension that would allow an employee to voluntarily freeze the DROP for up to five years.

Wayne Frazier was sworn in as a new member of the Richmond County Board of Education.

Judge Stephen Kelley of the Superior Court for the Brunswick Circuit has put an end to weddings at a beachfront home on St. Simons Island.

Superior Court Judge Stephen D. Kelley’s enjoining of Jeff and Lee Burton’s business use of their house on East Beach is the latest ruling in a battle that first hit the courts in 2013.

Bothered by trolleys hauling guests, on-street parking and noise, neighbors of the house on 16th Street complained to the county which in turn notified the Burtons that using the property as an event venue violated a county zoning ordinance.

The governing ordinance said the house is a single-family dwelling where weddings and parties are permissible as an “accessory use,’’ Kelley ruled in December 2013. He found that weddings and social events had become the primary use of the property and ruled the county was right.

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