Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 5, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 5, 2017

Georgia and American History

On January 5, 1734, the Trustees of Georgia ordered the return of 42 Jewish settlers who had come in 1733, primarily from Portugal, without the knowledge or approval of the Trustees. The Brits who sponsored the Jewish settlers refused and Georgia is home to the oldest Jewish settlement in the United States.

On January 5, 1781, traitor Benedict Arnold and 1600 British troops captured Richmond, Virginia.

On January 5, 1978, the British band the Sex Pistols started their American tour at the Great Southeast Music Hall in Atlanta, GA. The AJC has a photo gallery from the show, including the young promoter, Alex Cooley, who would become legendary.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The 55th Annual Wild Hog Supper, benefiting the Georgia Food Bank Association, will be held Sunday, January 8, 2017 at the Georgia Freight Depot by the State Capitol. You can buy your tickets online for $25 each or at the door for $30.

In Senate District 54, where Republican Chuck Payne is running against Democrat Debby Peppers, early voting has surpassed December in both in-person and mailed ballots.

Early votes cast in December 2016

mail in person
52 1070

Early votes cast as of yesterday:

mail in person
164 1148

A third candidate has joined the field in the Special Election for Roswell City Council Post 4.

Shawn Wright has announced his bid to run for the vacant Post 4 seat on the Roswell City Council.

“Our city needs a leader who can rise above the single issue political divisions and serve all of Roswell,” said Wright said. “Roswell stands at a crossroads. The decisions made by our City Council impacts our future. We need a leader who will lead, serve and unite all of Roswell. As city councilman, I will seek input from anyone and any group willing to come together and find common ground solutions for the good of our city.”

Wright is the third candidate to announce plans to qualify for the seat vacated by Kent Igleheart, who resigned following his arrest on child sex chargess. Jay Small and Lori Henry both made their intentions known in December. The special election to fill the seat will be held March 21.

Former Governor Sonny Perdue may face greater competition for the Secretary of Agriculture slot in the Trump Administration.

Former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado is the front-runner to head the US Departure of Agriculture, a source familiar with the transition process told CNN Tuesday.

The owner of a vineyard in California, Maldonado has a farming background. He grew up picking crops with his parents who were agricultural workers themselves.

Maldonado is Mexican-American. His father is from Mexico while his mother was born in New Mexico. The source stressed putting a farmer in the agriculture secretary spot is key as many of Trump’s supporters hail from rural America. Farmers want a farmer in that spot, the source added.

Previously, Perdue had been named the front runner by multiple sources.

John Watson, who served as Chief of Staff to Governor Sonny Perdue and worked to elect Senator David Perdue is running for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.

Watson, a former chief of staff to Gov. Sonny Perdue and adviser to Sen. David Perdue, said he’s the best candidate in what’s likely to be a crowded field to help the struggling organization regain its financial footing and navigate another testy election cycle.

“I’m in the race. The role of the state party chair is to raise resources and partner with grassroots volunteers to win elections. I’ve got the history and track record that proves I can do that as chairman,” said Watson. “We’re in this to win.”

“Obviously we have to redouble our fundraising efforts in advance of the critical 2018 elections. That’s going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Watson. “And that’s the type of perspective that I’ll bring to the table.”

Dan McLagan, a GOP operative and close Watson friend, once called him a “war-time consigliere” who would keep Democrats awake at night.

“There’s a fight looming on the horizon and John is the guy to take that fight to the Dems and get our GOP candidates elected,” said McLagan said in a recent interview. “John is the last person the Democrats want at the helm of the state GOP. He is their nightmare.”

Billy Kirkland, who managed David Perdue’s Senate campaign, and took leadership of the Trump campaign in Georgia, has been named to the Senate Liaison Office for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Senator Perdue and Senator Isakson announced their committee assignments in the new Congress.

Isakson will serve on five Senate committees, retaining his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Senate Select committee on Ethics. His other committee assignments will include the finance, foreign relations and health, education and labor committees.

“I look forward to continuing to lead in the Senate to fix the problems that have plagued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for far too long,” said Isakson, who is a veteran himself. “Working with the Trump administration, we will bring real accountability and restore a culture of service to the VA.

“We are also going to do everything possible to reduce the amount of time the VA takes to review appeals on veterans’ benefit claims and to ensure veterans have the choice of receiving health care from providers in their community, two of my top priorities this Congress.”

Meanwhile, Perdue will served on the armed services, banking, budget and agriculture committees. The Armed Service Committee is a new assignment for Perdue, but at the same time, he will move off of the judiciary and foreign relations committees that he has sat on for the past two years.

“Georgia has a long tradition of representation on both the Senate Armed Services and Agriculture committees,” Perdue said in a statement. “I am humbled to carry on this legacy and will make it my priority to promote our Georgia values on these key committees.”

The Zell Miller Institute for Public Policy, chaired by the former Governor’s grandson, Bryan Miller, will work for bipartisan solutions to state issues.

“My grandfather’s policies as the 79th governor of Georgia prepared the state for the 21st century, and the work of the Miller Institute will provide a blueprint for policies that will give us a competitive edge in the decades to come,” the younger Miller said.

The institute’s startup coincides with the 25th anniversary of Zell Miller’s signature accomplishment as governor, the HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs made possible when Georgia voters approved the creation of the Georgia Lottery in 1992.

The organization will include three divisions: an issue-oriented public policy component, a foundation to encourage careers in public service and an “action fund” that will participate in elections.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer has more on the Miller Institute:

The institute’s charter board of directors is indeed a distinguished array of dignitaries, including attorney and former state Sen. Pete Robinson of Columbus, who now chairs Troutman Sanders Strategies, an Atlanta lobbying organization. Former state Attorney General Thurbert Baker; Charlie Harman, who served as chief of staff to former Sens. Sam Nunn, Miller and Saxby Chambliss (speaking of bipartisan); former Bill Clinton deputy assistant Keith Mason; and former Sonny Perdue chief of staff Eric Tanenblatt are also members of this diverse leadership team.

The institute’s inaugural Miller Legacy Dinner is scheduled for Feb. 28, when retired University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby (also a board member) will be presented the first Zell Miller Award for Distinguished Public Service. It’s a fitting start for an organization that promises to build on the living legacy of its namesake.

Albany and Worth County appear to have been hit by a tornado or tornadoes.

A survey team from the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Florida, plans to visit Albany and possibly Worth County to inspect damage Wednesday, and possibly Thursday.

“We have a large area of straight line winds that went across the same area,” said Parks Camp, a weather service meteorologist. “It’s a matter of weeding through all the straight line wind damage to see if there are any tornado tracks embedded in there.”

[Albany-Dougherty County deputy EMA director Sebon] Burns said as many as 1,000 homes sustained some damage, but he was not aware of any buildings being destroyed.

Relief efforts are focusing on clearing highways and restoring electricity as crews determine whether a twister touched down.

In Mitchell County, weather service survey teams determined an EF-1 tornado with peak winds of 95 mph touched down two miles north of Baconton just before 10:10 p.m. Monday.

Jefferson, Georgia, home of the mighty Dragons, was hit by a tornado last week.

The tornado touched down in Jefferson – about 60 miles northeast of Atlanta – [Thursday] at 3:50 a.m. with 105 mph winds.

Bainbridge also saw weather damage and might have been hit by a tornado.

A suspected tornado ripped through West Bainbridge Monday night around 10 p.m. as a severe thunderstorm pounded the region. The majority of the damage occurred to structures at the Ag Pro John Deer shop and Jimmy’s Auto Sales on Dothan Road.

Centerville City Council voted to buy new rifles and body armor to protect municipal police officers.

The 165th Airlift Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard, based in Savannah, broke ground on an $8.5 million dollar building to house squadron operations.

The City of Lawrenceville is asking its local legislative delegation to revise the city charter during the coming legislative session.

Augusta’s stormwater and sewer systems are having trouble keeping up with the volume of rain lately.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Augusta Utilities had reported nine major overflows of raw sewage caused by excessive rainfall. The between 5 and 8 inches of rain measured between Sunday night and Tuesday morning also contributed to flooding in nearly all of the city’s flood-prone areas, officials said.

Among the larger spills was at Utilities’ Messerly Wastewater Treatment Plant, where 9.1 million gallons of diluted wastewater overflowed the collection system Monday and Tuesday into a Butler Creek tributary.

Unlike a major July spill of 2.8 million gallons after 3 inches of rain fell in a few hours, the plant wasn’t having issues with its pumps, [Utilities Director Tom] Wiedmeier said.

“When you get 7 inches of rain, we have serious problems,” he said.

Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris will deliver her “State of the City” address on January 23, 2017 at 7 PM at the Red Clay Music Foundry.

The Special Master overseeing the water dispute between Georgia and Florida again urged the parties to settle.

Ralph I. Lancaster issued an order Tuesday listing a couple of deadlines for the states.

“The parties shall meet and confer by January 24, 2017, with the services of a mediator if at all possible, in a good faith effort to reach a framework for settlement of this equitable apportionment proceeding,” the case management order stated.

Lancaster also wants the states to submit a confidential record to him by the 26th, summarizing the settlement efforts.

“The memorandum shall be a joint memorandum to the extent possible, though it may contain independent statements where the parties are unable to agree to the summary,” Lancaster wrote in the order.

He also ordered both states to show an empathy of sorts in looking at the needs or water worries of the other.

“The parties should consider solutions that could alleviate both parties’ concerns, including importation of water from outside the ACF River Basin to supplement streamflow during drought periods,” Lancaster wrote.

Lower water levels at Lake Lanier are not expected to impact spring events at the lake.

Dalton and Whitfield county voters will likely go to the polls to vote on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST) on March 21, 2017.

The members of the Whitfield County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to put the 1 percent tax on the ballot during a special election on March 21. The Dalton Board of Education, which must also approve the measure, is scheduled to vote on it at its next meeting on Monday.

The tax would be expected to raise some $98 million, with Whitfield County Schools receiving $61 million and Dalton Public Schools $37 million, a split based on each system’s share of total enrollment.

“This is something we have been working on and talking about for a long time,” said Whitfield County Board of Education Chairman Bill Worley.

Hahira City Council is considering joining Valdosta in a move to take Lowndes County to court in a dispute between the local governments.

The fight, which has played out since spring 2016, is over the joint service delivery agreement. All of the cities are expected to approve the court petition this week.

Once approved, the petition would ask a judge to settle the dispute that even legal mediation has been unable to resolve.

Bainbridge City Council member Joe Sweet died, leaving a vacancy on the municipal governing board.

The term for Sweet’s District 2 seat is up in November. Between now and then, there are three dates mandated by the Georgia Secretary of State that a special election can be held: March 21, June 20 and Sept. 19.

Georgia Code calls for a 29-day span between calling for an election and holding an election, so Bainbridge has time to fill the seat by the first date.

If that’s even what City Council chooses to do. The law does not require the seat to be filled, and Bainbridge could theoretically ride out a 5-person city council until the November election.

“We don’t have a provision in our charter that we have to appoint somebody to that seat. We don’t require anything other than a majority of a quorum,” City Manager Chris Hobby said. “As long as they had the votes there, they can still conduct business.”

Hobby said having a seat vacant on city council for 11 months wouldn’t likely hinder government performance.

“But then, there are six council members for a reason,” Hobby added, “so the council will have to weigh that.”

Former State Rep. and current DOT Board Member Mark Burkhalter is weighing-in on a dispute over a billboard in Johns Creek.

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