Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 29, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 29, 2017

Georgia ratified the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 29, 1794, which reads,

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution to partition Palestine and allow the creation of a Jewish state of Israel.

On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, referred to as the Warren Commission. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. of Georgia was appointed to the Commission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

My favorite kind of election story: Austell City Council Ward 1 heads to a runoff election after the only two candidates tied at the polls in November.

The Nov. 7 contest saw Ikaika Anderson and Marlin Lamar each earn 76 votes, though election night results had shown Lamar as the winner, 76-74. The next day, Cobb Elections officials announced that two provisional ballots had both gone Anderson’s way, putting the race into overtime and requiring a runoff.

“All in all, the campaign, the race and everything had been a great learning experience, so I was pretty happy, and then to find out there was an actual tie, was very exciting,” Anderson said. He is the son of Councilwoman Kirsten Anderson, whom he and Lamar are seeking to succeed after she did not seek re-election.

Lamar, 63, who works as an engineering superintendent at Hilton Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, said the tie has pushed him to campaign harder in recent weeks.

“I’ve been pounding the pavement and knocking on doors, kissing babies — everything,” he said. “My mantra for this runoff is every vote counts. Literally.”

Out of 989 registered voters in the ward, 152 cast ballots in the Nov. 7 contest, resulting in a turnout of 15.4 percent.

Both candidates say they expect next week’s turnout to go higher due to their efforts to talk to voters.

 Early voting is still open in Valdosta’s city council runoff election between Eric Howard and Angela Penn.

As of Tuesday, 49 people had participated in early voting. Anyone living in District 4 interested in voting early is encouraged to vote this week at the elections office, 2808 N. Oak St.

The runoff election date is set for Dec. 5. Voting will be held at Precinct 2 at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3501 Bemiss Road, and Precinct 3 at Northside Baptist Church, 200 E. Park Ave.

After the election Nov. 7, Howard failed to hit the needed 50 percent plus one vote to win the race for Valdosta District 4. The race to determine his opponent was too close to call on Election Day with Penn beating Kevin Bussey by a single vote.

Thomasville also has early voting open ahead of next week’s runoff election.

The number of voters casting early ballots Monday is about three times the number who voted on the first day of early voting for the November general election.

About 150 members of the city electorate voted Monday.

At stake in the Tuesday, Dec. 5, runoff is the Thomasville City Council at-large seat.

Don Sims, incumbent at-large council member, is challenged by Todd Mobley in the runoff next week. Sims and Mobley were the top two-vote-getters in a three-way race on Nov. 7.

Rockmart is holding a runoff election for Board of Education District 6.

So far, 41 people had participated since early voting started Monday morning. That includes nine voters who cast their ballots today.

Voters are going to the polls to decide between interim school board member Judy Wiggins, running to retain her seat, and candidate and local business owner Chris Culver. Wiggins took 229 votes in the district, or 42 percent of the overall, and Culver took 210 votes, or 38 percent of the total.

U.S. Representative Karen Handel (R-Roswell) endorsed Matt Judy in the runoff election for City Council Post 6.

Judy and fellow candidate Karen Parrish are running for the seat held by Nancy Diamond, who did not seek re-election to another four-year term.

Handel said she and her husband, Steve, are “proud to endorse” Judy, a Roswell native.

“Matt is well respected throughout our community, and we trust him to do what is in the best interest of our historic city and its citizens,” she said in a prepared statement provided by Judy’s campaign. “We urge you to join us in voting for Matt Judy.”

Early voting in Roswell’s special election runoffs, which includes the office of mayor and the Post 3 seat, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 27 through Friday, Dec. 1. Lee Jenkins and Lori Henry are running in the runoff to become the city’s next mayor while the Post 3 seat is a battle between Mike Nyden and Sean Groer.

Smyrna voters will decide a runoff election between Travis Lindley and Maryline Blackburn for City Council Ward 3.

Lindley, a 42-year-old Smyrna native who attended Campbell High School, said his ties to the city gave him a leg up in the Nov. 7 election. Now he’s hoping to use some of that momentum to get voters back out to the polls next week.

“We’ve just been trying to reach voters, knocking on doors and meeting as many people as possible,” said Lindley, who has run into former classmates he hasn’t seen in decades while canvassing.

Blackburn, an Alaska native who moved to the area three decades ago, is receiving support of her own ahead of Tuesday’s runoff. Though city elections are nonpartisan, Blackburn got the nod from some of Cobb’s Democrats at a recent meeting held in Smyrna.

Michael Owens, Cobb’s Democratic Committee chairman, encouraged those in attendance to vote for Blackburn, calling her “a strong Democrat” and saying “there’s no question what side of the ballot we need to be on this.”

But Lindley, who identifies as conservative, said he takes issue with Blackburn “waving the political flag” ahead of their municipal runoff.

“When you look at Washington, I think most can agree it’s not working — in large part because of partisan politics,” he said. “Maybe the same could be said at the state level. Why in the world would we want to inject partisan politics into the one level of government that actually works and the one that’s closest to the people?”

Politics is also intruding into…. politics …. in Floyd County.

Floyd County Republican Party ads endorsing candidates in the nonpartisan Rome City Commission race weren’t meant to signal a politicization of city government, the GOP chair said Tuesday.

“I don’t foresee a trend of partisanship. This may be an isolated incident,” Andy Garner said. “The point was to let the public know of her affiliation.”

Commissioner Wendy Davis was the target of the party’s ads that ran in the Rome News-Tribune and aired on WRGA before the Nov. 7 election.

The lengthy text called her “extremely partisan” and noted that she’s a member of the Democratic National Committee and a political consultant “for progressive candidates throughout the state and country.” It also asked residents to join the FCGOP in voting for Mayor Jamie Doss, Commissioner Sue Lee and new candidate Randy Quick.

Right whales, the official state marine mammal of Georgia, are returning to their coastal calving waters.

“We are very concerned about the future of North Atlantic right whales,” said Barb Zoodsma, right whale biologist for NOAA Fisheries. “We lost 16 right whales in U.S. and Canadian waters this year. This is troubling for a population of about 450, particularly because we estimate that only about 105 of those are breeding females who are producing fewer calves.”

The bus-sized whales return to the waters of the Southeast around December every year after spending the summer feeding on plankton off New England and Canada. Some of the dead whales discovered over the summer showed signs of entanglement in fishing gear, an increasingly common hazard, and others showed blunt trauma like that of a ship strike. Some could not be examined.

Along with the “unusual mortality event” as NOAA termed it, right whales have had a streak of bad birthing years, said Clay George of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. In a good year they’ll add more than 20 calves to the population. And as recently as 2009 their population appeared to be on the upswing, with a record 39 calves born that year. But it’s been a baby bust ever since. Last season only three calves were born in the Southeast. Another two spotted farther north brought the total to a still disappointing five.

“Whales have to produce a lot more calves to recover,” George said.

Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education under President Trump, visited Georgia State University.

Georgia college students could soon be able to apply for federal student financial aid through an app on their phone. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says the existing system needs a reboot. DeVos made the announcement at a conference of student aid professionals in Orlando.

“We’re in the process of moving toward updating the whole FAFSA experience and making it 21st century relevant,” DeVos said.

[Tuesday] afternoon, she was in Atlanta for a roundtable discussion with students from Georgia State University. She wanted to learn more about GSU students’ experience with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Almost all of the GSU students who met with DeVos at the roundtable said they would have loved to have a mobile app to help them apply for federal aid.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash presented a $1.7 billion budget proposal for 2018.

Nash and Chief Finance Officer Maria Woods presented the nearly $1.7 billion budget proposal to county commissioners and department heads Tuesday morning. One of the key items in the proposal is 66 police positions.

More than half of them, 36 to be exact, will be for the new precinct that will be built next year at Bay Creek Park. Another 30 positions will be police officers that the department will have the discretion to place where it chooses.

“The police chief and his senior staff will decide how they’re going to allocate those positions,” Nash said. “I would think they’re going to be spread geographically among the precincts, but I can’t say that for sure. It’s really up to them to decide how they’re going to assign them, but remember it’s going to be a while before they’ll actually be acting as a police officer.”

The proposed budget is about 8 percent larger than the budget that was adopted in January for this year. Compensation and benefits are up about 2.8 percent, but 2018 will also be the first year in which raises that went into effect this month will be in place for a full year.

A 4 percent pay for performance, and one-time longevity pay are included in the proposed budget as well.

Nash also said she put aside about $500,000 in the proposed budget to address homelessness in Gwinnett County.

The Gwinnett County Commission approved agreements with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency for equipment and training.

The Robinsons from Peachtree Corners donated pet oxygen masks to the Gwinnett County Fire Department.

Davis and Jennifer Robinson have donated 42 pet oxygen masks to the fire department. Each set is worth $64.29 and comes with three different sizes of masks for large, medium and small dogs, as well as cats, officials said.

“We just can’t say enough about the generosity of the Robinson’s, to place the needs of our department and our community’s furriest friends before their own,” Battalion Chief Brian Wolfe said. “They are truly a special couple.”

Fire department officials said the Robinsons discovered there was a need for pet oxygen masks when they saw a story about someone donating a single set in the past. The couple are pet owners themselves, with two Lab mix rescues living with them.

Grantville residents voted against term extensions for local elected officials.

Seats held by Mayor Doug Jewell and Council members Ruby Hines and Willie Kee will be up for election in 2018, but their terms would have been extended for one year to 2019 if residents voted to amend the charter to change election dates.

City Attorney Mark Mitchell said most other state and federal elections are held in even-numbered years, but when municipality elections are held in the same year, qualifying dates became very confusing.

“Based on my review of state law, it does not prohibit having a municipal election in an even year, but if you’re going to have municipal elections in even years, then there are different schedules that you have to follow,” Mitchell said. “I have to make a call to the Secretary of State’s office, but it appears, when municipal elections are held in even-number years, rather than qualifying being in August, when it typically take places, it would have to be in March. So, this will require candidates to qualify much sooner than they otherwise would have to if elections were held in odd number years.”

Democratic candidates have announced 2018 campaigns in two State House seats currently held by Republicans.

Josh McLaurin will seek to replace retiring Republican state Rep. Wendell Willard in the Sandy Springs panhandle’s House District 51, and Matthew Wilson is challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Meagan Hanson in House District 80, a Brookhaven-centered district that includes Sandy Springs’ High Point area.

District 51
In the District 51 race, McLaurin joins another previously announced candidate, Republican Alex Kaufman.

House District 51 includes Sandy Springs’ panhandle area and parts of Johns Creek and Roswell.

District 80
In District 80, Wilson enters the race as a first-time candidate, but with a background in volunteering in recent races where the district has switched back and forth between Republicans and Democrats.

[District 80 State Rep. Meagan] Hanson, a Brookhaven resident, said she is standing by her record. She is a member of the House Transportation Committee and the committee that oversees MARTA. She also co-sponsored the DeKalb County special local option sales tax, featuring a referendum to freeze property taxes, that was overwhelmingly approved by DeKalb voters Nov. 7.

Wilson said he volunteered for former state Rep. Taylor Bennett in 2015 when he defeated former Brookhaven mayor J. Max Davis in a special election for the House District 80 seat. He volunteered again for Bennett last year when Hanson pulled out a slim victory.

House District 80 is considered by some to be a swing district. Mike Jacobs was elected to the seat in 2004 as a Democrat, narrowly defeating J. Max Davis, but switched to the Republican Party in 2007 and was easily re-elected in 2008 and 2010. Bennett won the seat in a special election after Jacobs left to take a judgeship, and Hanson ousted him in the following 2016 election.

“There’s no denying the district was drawn to be a Republican district,” Wilson acknowledged. But he said Hillary Clinton won the district by 12 points and Hanson only narrowly defeated Bennett by fewer than 250 votes.

Nancy Mace, a University of Georgia graduate won a Republican Primary Runoff in a special election for South Carolina State House this week.

Conservative business woman and top vote getter in the GOP Special Election for House District 99 made the following statement:

“I’m truly honored with tonight’s win. I want to thank those who ran in this primary – particularly Shawn Pinkston for his support. The vision I shared with voters, whether it’s getting ahead of our infrastructure needs, improving roads, being a fiscal conservative, recognizing tax dollars are sacred will continue to be my message as we move forward to the General Election in January. I will continue to meet with families and small business owners and listen about the issues that are important to them.”

Nancy is a businesswoman and mother of two. She holds an MA in mass communication from the University of Georgia.

From the Post and Courier:

Mace is the first woman to graduate from The Citadel’s Corps of Cadets.

Mace’s victory puts her in a Jan. 16 battle with Democrat Cindy Boatwright that will determine who fills the seat formerly held by Rep. Jim Merrill, who resigned before pleading guilty in the South Carolina Statehouse probe.

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