Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 4, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 4, 2017

On October 4, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson sent a telegram to the Georgia Democratic Party Convention delegates in appreciation for their support of his admininstration.

The Savannah River Bridge opened on October 4, 1925.

Beverly Hills, 90210 debuted on October 4, 1990.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has appointed former State Rep. Reqina Quick as a Superior Court Judge for the Western Judicial Circuit, filling the vacancy created by Judge David Sweat’s resignation.

Former State Rep. B.J. Pak was confirmed by the Senate as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Pak sailed through his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month and was okayed by the chamber as part of a block of judicial, ambassadorial and military nominees considered noncontroversial.

Once sworn in, Pak will hold the vaunted northern district position once held by former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates, Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias and ex-U.S. Rep. Bob Barr.

Pak is a former federal prosecutor who represented a Gwinnett County-based district in the state House for three terms. While an assistant U.S. attorney in Atlanta, he led the prosecution of conspirators who tried to steal Coca-Cola’s trade secrets and aimed to sell them to Pepsi. Now a partner in a well-connected GOP law firm, Pak briefly considered running for Georgia attorney general.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian praised President Trump’s tax reform plan.

Bastian in a written statement called the tax reform framework “a positive first step that will lead to economic growth and job creation.”

“We look forward to seeing tax reform move forward for the benefit of all Americans,” Bastian said.

 Voters in two Georgia State House districts filed a federal lawsuit claiming the districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

 The suit, filed Tuesday by 11 voters who live in and around those districts, claims that the districts of state Reps. Joyce Chandler, R-Grayson, and Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, were redrawn two years ago to increase the percentage of white voters in their districts to protect both incumbents.

Chandler’s District 105 seat and Strickland’s District 111 have been two of the most competitive in the 180-member House. Both districts’ boundaries were changed in 2015 when lawmakers passed House Bill 566, which also adjusted the lines of 15 other districts.

The lawsuit claims the bill “specifically targets districts where white Republicans have become increasingly vulnerable to challenge by African-American Democratic candidates, moving voters in and out of House districts based on their race so as to shore up the incumbent Republicans’ prospects in future elections.”

The Gainesville Times notes that time is running out to register to vote in 2017 municipal and special elections.

 Residents of Gainesville, Flowery Branch, Oakwood, Clermont, Lula, Braselton, Gillsville and Buford have until Tuesday to register. The Oct. 10 deadline is set by the state.

A convenient way to register is by going to the Secretary of State website at http://sos.ga.gov/index.phpelections.

Other options available include signing up at the Hall County Registrar’s Office at 2875 Browns Bridge Road, any library or the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

Flowery Branch Mayor and City Council candidates met in a forum on Monday.

Norcross City Council candidates will appear in a forum on Thursday.

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved a farm-themed community rezoning.

The commission voted 4-1 in favor of the Bluedress Farm proposal, which would have as many as 45 homes with a central community-shared farm, a boathouse with a market for local produce and a coffee shop. Commissioner John Heard cast the only vote against the proposal.

A decision on the neighborhood, also referred to as a “farmmunity,” had been delayed several times, first by the county’s Planning Commission and later by the Board of Commissioners.

Healthcare

State Rep. Clay Cox will offer legislation to provide a tax credit for employers with Medicaid-eligible employees on their healthcare plans.

“While serving on the Board of Community Health, I noticed that the state put a lot of energy in recruiting Georgians to enroll in Medicaid, but we did very little to get people off of it,” Cox said in a statement.

“This measure would reward employers that hire and provide health coverage to Medicaid recipients, thus reducing the number of Georgians on Medicaid, saving taxpayers’ money and encouraging job growth throughout our state.”

The Georgia General Assembly’s 2018 legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 8.

An Emory cancer research team has been selected for a National Cancer Institute network focused on developing cancer therapies.

Rockdale Medical Center has joined the Piedmont Healthcare system.

The Atlanta-based system may not be done with expanding in Georgia. Piedmont has entered exclusive partnership talks with Columbus Regional Health. That system operates three major facilities in Columbus — Midtown Medical Center, Northside Medical Center and the John B. Amos Cancer Center — as well as urgent care centers and multiple physician practices.

“Sixty-three years ago, our hospital was founded to meet the need for advanced medical services in Rockdale County,” Rick Simons, chairman of the board of directors for Piedmont Rockdale Hospital, said in a statement.

“Over the years, the hospital has grown and evolved with the community; however, the mission has always been to provide high-quality health care. Today, we celebrate the beginning of a new chapter. In joining Piedmont, we continue our commitment to the community of delivering excellent health care close to home.”

The Rockdale deal follows Piedmont’s additions of Athens Regional Medical Center in Athens and Newton Medical Center in Covington, just 10 miles from the Rockdale hospital off I-20.

Frank Dolan resigned his seat on the Richmond County Board of Education after moving from the district.

2018 Campaigns

Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise (R-Marietta) announced he will not run for reelection in 2018.

“There’s an old saying that happiness doesn’t come from doing easy work,” Wise said. “I was sent here to make tough decisions, and I did my best to advance our state and its citizens. We have reliable utility services and abundant energy supplies and capacity. We haven’t deferred infrastructure investment, which will keep rates more affordable over time. Businesses are more likely to choose Georgia because of the climate we have created, which means more jobs and prosperity. It brings me immense satisfaction to know I played a hand in that.”

Wise said he doesn’t plan on retiring after leaving the PSC, but wants to use his relationships with those in the utility industries and knowledge to continue to help people. The form that next step takes is still to be determined, he said.

Wise, elected as a Republican four times since first joining the commission in 1995, said he does not plan to qualify for re-election when qualifying begins in March. He does plan on serving the remainder of his term, which expires Dec. 31, 2018.

Wise served as a member of the Cobb Board of Commissioners from 1990 to 1992 prior to joining the PSC. In a statement announcing his decision not to seek another term, Wise is described as an “unabashed supporter of nuclear power.”

“I believe that it’s important that in Georgia, we have the next generation of nuclear power,” Wise said, adding that if the expansion of the plant is completed, the state will be well-positioned in the energy field for decades to come.

State Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) will not run for reelection in 2018.

“I’ve had the honor of serving my nation in uniform and my city and state in elected office, and in each of those positions, there comes a time to step aside and let the next leader step up,” Taylor said. “I will finish my current term, and I’m already at work getting ready to represent my friends and neighbors during the 2018 legislative session. There’s still much to do, as our city and state grabs one amazing opportunity after another, because we have to keep investing in our community to keep up with the growth that is driving our prosperity. I’m proud that I was able to take part in that important work as an elected official for many years, and in the years to come, and I look forward to serving our community in new ways as I transition from representative back to active constituent.”

Taylor is stepping down as the state moves forward on plans to dramatically overhaul the I-285/GA 400 intersection. Taylor worked as the lead legislator on the project, coordinating with the Department of Transportation, Gov. Nathan Deal, the Perimeter CID and local governments.

“The 285/400 improvements will be the largest single transportation construction project in the history of Georgia, and it will greatly reduce the traffic congestion that negatively affects all of us who live here – and hurts our competitiveness for high-paying job developments,” Taylor said. “You don’t always get the chance to work on a project that will improve your city, region and state for generations to come, but I got the chance to do that on this project, and I can’t wait to see how improves our mobility and quality of life.”

“I’m thankful to all the constituents in District 79 who placed their faith in me to represent them in numerous elections,” said Taylor, a combat veteran who served in the US Navy for 21 years on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. “I’m also grateful that I got to serve with strong Georgia leaders such as Gov. Nathan Deal and Speaker David Ralston and so many great friends who perform an honorable service for our state as members of the General Assembly.”

A Democratic trial lawyer, Michael Wilensky, has announced he would challenge Taylor.

Former State Rep. Stacey Abrams and State Rep. Stacey Evans met in a forum at the Carter Center.

They clashed over whether Evans supported plans that could “privatize” public education. And they sparred over what Abrams called the “donkey in the room” – the Netroots protest against Evans that has framed the early stretch of the race.

Abrams said she was “the only candidate in this race not to privatize education.”

Prodded by Evans to explain the accusation, Abrams listed two incidents: Her support of Gov. Nathan Deal’s failed schools initiative and a vote “for vouchers” that she said would pave the way for privatization.

“Those are signals of privatization of public education,” said Abrams.

Evans said she voted for Deal’s program “not because I thought it was a good bill, but because I couldn’t stand by and let the status quo continue.” And she flatly denied the voucher claim.

“I’ve never voted to privatize schools, I’ve never voted for vouchers – and I never will,” she said. “I believe in the power of public education.”

Democrat Jonathan Wallace is running in the Special Election for State House District 119.

“The state tried to take over the control of our locals schools,” he told the crowd, referring to the controversial charter-schools amendment that was defeated at the ballot box last year. “That is unacceptable. Running for this position, I will fight to protect our public schools for our kids.” Wallace called for an end to “high-stakes testing.”

He also stressed the need for an independent redistricting commission for the 2022 elections, when districts will be redrawn following the 2020 census. Republicans in the state legislature redrew Democratic-leaning Athens’ districts in 2006 and 2012 to favor GOP candidates.

“All over the state of Georgia, we’ve got districts that are very weird shapes,” Wallace said. “We need to have an independent redistricting commission so your voice is heard everytime you go to the polls.”

“This district was carried by Donald Trump by six points. This is a district that we’re going to win,” [Athens attorney Russell] Edwards said, emceeing the kickoff event. “The Republican party in Oconee County is divided, literally.”

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