Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 22, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 22, 2017

On May 22, 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with his cane. Brooks used the cane as the result of injury sustained in a previous duel, and found Sumner at his desk in the Senate Chamber. In the course of a two-day Senate speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would have nullified the Missouri Compromise on the expansion of slavery, Sumner had criticized three legislators, including a cousin of Rep. Brooks, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.

On May 22, 1819, the steamship Savannah left the port of Savannah for Liverpool, England. After 29 days, it became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. On May 22, 1944, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the voyage of the Savannah.

On May 22, 1932, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the commencement address for Oglethorpe University at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

Florida archaeologists found remains thought to be from the first decade of European settlement in the United States.

According to FirstCoast, last October hurricane Matthew damaged a wine shop on St. Augustine’s plaza. After the hurricane, building owner David White decided to renovate the space. According to a press release from the city, the floor of the building was built on a joist system constructed in 1888, which left the soil below relatively intact. White offered the city archeologist Carl Hibert a chance to take a peek under the floor before the repairs began.

During the first week of digging in February, archeologists first discovered an intact adult skeleton and an adult skull nearby. According to Susan Parker at The St. Augustine Register, the bodies have been preliminarily identified as a relatively young white European woman and a man of African ancestry. Outside of the wine shop, they found a leg bone and another skull from two other graves. Last week, they discovered the remains of the children.

Pottery fragments found with the skeletons date the burials between 1572 and 1586, a few years after St. Augustine, known as America’s oldest city, was founded.

The History Blog reports that Hibert believes the burials may come from the floor of the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Remedios, the parish church built in St. Augustine soon after the colony was established by conquistador Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, 42 years before the Jamestown Colony was established by the English and 55 years before the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Karen Handel hosted an event this weekend with Congressman Brian Mast (R-FL) and Rep. Will Hurd, (R-TX).

“It was a great honor to have both Congressman Brian Mast and Congressman Will Hurd in Georgia today as we honored those who have served and are still serving in our nation’s military,” said Handel in a statement released by her campaign.

“These men understand the difference between talk and commitment, between intention and results. They were tested and they continued to persevere and it would be an honor to serve side by side with them in Congress.”

On Thursday, Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader will host “Gwinnett Connects,” a summit on community resources for fighting mental illness and opioid addiction.

Unterman and Schrader will host a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Summit at 6 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, in Lawrenceville. The summit is being called Gwinnett Connects.

The goal of the summit is to foster a discussion between mental health stakeholders on community-based therapy services provided to those people who need it. A Facebook page created to promote the event says participants will “seek positive solutions, understanding, and … unite our community on mental health and substance abuse.”

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald is expected to participate in the summit, along with other state and local leaders, and collaborative stakeholders.

In addition to mental health and the broader topic of substance abuse, the issues of opioid addiction and the way in which governmental and non-governmental agencies respond to these issues is expected to be discussed.

Newly-registered voters in the Sixth District are being relied on to keep Democratic hopes alive.

To [win, Ossoff will] likely need to find new voters and turn them out to the polls.

So when federal district court judge Timothy Batten extended the voter registration deadline from March 20 to May 21, he breathed new life into Ossoff’s campaign. Outside groups have rushed into the district to find eligible but unregistered voters—most of them young people and minorities—who are more likely to vote for Ossoff than his Republican opponent, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel.

“It was a game-changer,” says Tharon Johnson, a Democratic strategist based in Atlanta. “The extension of the deadline presents a tremendous opportunity for the Ossoff campaign to expand the electorate and bring a lot of new registered voters to the polls.”

One of the groups that quickly ramped up their efforts in the district was the New Georgia Project, which was launched by state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in 2013 to enroll minorities under the Affordable Care Act. It soon became apparent that many people of color in Georgia were not registered to vote. “We dug into the numbers,” says Nse Ufot, the executive director of the New Georgia Project, and it turned out there were more than 800,000 eligible but unregistered people of color in Georgia. Since 2014, she says, the group has registered nearly 210,000 minority voters in the state.

By overlaying voter registration information from the secretary of state’s office with the latest census data, the group concluded that there are nearly 27,000 unregistered African Americans in the 6th Congressional District. Voter registration rates in the 6th District—a historically white, wealthy, and educated suburb—are the highest in the state. But like the rest of Georgia, it’s becoming more ethnically and economically diverse. To reach these new residents, Ufot says, staff and volunteers are knocking on 1,200 to 1,400 doors a day and setting up voter registration booths at malls and grocery stores on the weekends. Several other groups are actively registering voters, as is the Ossoff campaign itself, which says it is registering about 100 people per day.

As organizers and the campaign are aware, registering new voters is the easy part. Making sure they get to the polls is harder. “It’s a combination of knocking on doors and helping people get voter IDs, and identifying people who need help getting rides to the polls,” says Ufot.

The Gainesville Times profiles a Latino member of the Hall County Republican Party.

From standing shoulder to shoulder with the faithful at the recent National Day of Prayer event in downtown Gainesville, and offering a bilingual prayer this week at the start of a Gainesville City Council meeting, Art Gallegos Jr. is quickly making his name known.

Gallegos’ unabashed pro-life convictions, strong family values, firm stand for law and order and unflinching support of President Donald Trump, have endeared him to local Republicans.

“They are just trying to reach out to everybody,” Gallegos said of the GOP. “When they were pursuing me, they said, ‘Hey, you know you can become a member…’ They were just pulling me in, pulling me in. I felt intrigued by it. This is the change (Republicans) need.”

Gallegos is making the most of the GOP’s welcome mat. In March, during the County Convention at party headquarters in Gainesville, he became the first Latino elected to the party’s executive board as assistant treasurer.

To help fan the cause of conservatism among Hispanics in the area, Gallegos and his young Puerto Rican friend, Angel Rosario, joined forces to form LCO — Latinos Conservative Organization.

Gallegos said that when a position opens up on the Gainesville City Council, he intends to run for public office.

“One thing that really sets me aside from a lot of leaders is my willingness to take on challenges, but also the passion that I have for people,” said Gallegos, who is active with Impact Ministries, a faith-based organization focused on the needs of the homeless and impoverished. “I don’t think I would be in ministry if I wouldn’t love people and serve people.”

Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) speaks to the Buckhead Business Lunch hosted by the Fulton County Republican Party at Maggiano’s in Buckhead.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) may see increasing competition for his seat.

The next potential battleground could be Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, which slices through much of Gwinnett County.

Washington analysts still consider the seat safely Republican, in part because it’s been held by the GOP for more than 20 years. Seismic demographic forces, though, are transforming the region.

Once one of the richest sources of Republican votes in the state, Gwinnett for the first time in 2016 no longer had a majority-white voting population. Hillary Clinton swept the county in November, flipping it blue for the first time in decades.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report now estimates the 7th District is one of the top Democratic-trending areas in the nation.

[Woodall]’s quick to acknowledge that the district’s design has helped insulate him from more electoral pressure.

“It’s gerrymandering that makes these things noncompetitive, right?” Woodall said in an interview. “Gwinnett County, if it was one district, it would be an incredibly competitive district.”

C.W. Matthews, the contractor who completed the I-85 bridge replacement, has donated $10,000 to a camp for children with special needs.

The funds are part of the company’s financial incentives received from the Georgia Department of Transportation for recently completing repairs to the Interstate 85 bridge in northeast Atlanta that collapsed on March 30.

The camp was founded by Athens-based Extra Special People, which has plans ranging from allowing kids in wheelchairs to sleep on the top bunk and individuals with autism to safely and intentionally wander.

For more information, visit www.camphooray.com.

The Marietta Daily Journal profiles the company.

C.W. Matthews has placed more tons of asphalt on Georgia roads than any other company and has developed a network of asphalt plants throughout the state.

Garcia said the company’s experience and engineering expertise helped them complete the construction of the I-85 bridge, which was destroyed in a fire in March, ahead of schedule.

“On the concrete that was utilized, there were some additives utilized to speed the process and gain strength, so instead of having to wait somewhere around 14 days, we were able to get strength within three days,” Garcia said.

He said they were called by the Georgia Department of Transportation within 30 minutes of the collapse. He believes C.W. Matthews was chosen because they were working on another project nearby and because they had done similar bridge work in the past.

“First and foremost, it’s working together with the DOT,” he said. “They were critical in getting the plans to us to begin within three days of the fire. Of course the weather was a big factor, we had great weather during the whole event but I would say mainly it was due to the employees and their hard work and sacrifice.”

Garcia said C.W. Matthews is currently working on 30 to 40 projects as far south as Dooly County west to Columbus, up I-75 to the Tennessee state line and up I-85 to the South Carolina line.

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport  is showing strong growth, in part due to more flights from more carriers.

April numbers are up 11 percent over the same month last year, with nearly a quarter-million passengers using the airport in that month alone. Total passengers for 2017 through April number more than 730,000, an increase of 13 percent over the same period last year.

The number of available seats in April also grew by double digits.

Greg Kelly, airport executive director, attributed the continued passenger growth to the addition of flight options from seven airlines — Air Canada, Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, Sun Country and United — offering nonstop service to a variety of major cities including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and, most recently, Toronto .

“In 2013, our enplanements were approximately 840,000. Last year, our enplanements were just under 1.1 million. This year we are on track to hit 1.2 million,” he said, adding that he attributes the growth to the collective efforts of an air service development partnership established in 2013 and consisting of the Savannah Airport Commission, the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, Visit Savannah, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

Locust Grove transportation blogger Clayton Carte is being credited for convincing the Henry County Commission with moving forward on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

“The state of Georgia is doing its part to help Henry County citizens, and we the citizens can do our part by enacting the transportation sales tax or the T-SPLOST,” said Carte.

The additional 1-percent sales tax could be used to complete major projects not funded by the state, Carte said. Based on current SPLOST revenues, Carte estimated that an additional $165 million can be generated from 2018 to 2023, if enacted in November by voters.

The T-SPLOST could also be used for sidewalks and intersection improvements.

“I believe with a T-SPLOST we could fund the projects in full and not be dependent on the prospect of federal funding to move these forward,” said Carte.

The BOC voted to move forward with staff gathering information to present to each of Henry County’s cities to support a T-SPLOST.

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