Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 16, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 16, 2017

The Pennsylvania Gazette published a criticism against the British Tea Act on October 16, 1773.

The Tea Act of 1773 was a bill designed to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of taxation tyranny. In response, the “Philadelphia Resolutions” called the British tax upon America unfair and said that it introduced “arbitrary government and slavery” upon the American citizens. The resolutions urged all Americans to oppose the British tax and stated that anyone who transported, sold or consumed the taxed tea would be considered “an enemy to his country.”

On October 16, 1854, Abraham Lincoln, a candidate for Congress, spoke against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and called the practice of slavery “immoral.”

Lincoln, who was practicing law at the time, campaigned on behalf of abolitionist Republicans in Illinois and attacked the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He denounced members of the Democratic Party for backing a law that “assumes there can be moral right in the enslaving of one man by another.” He believed that the law went against the founding American principle that “all men are created equal.”

On October 16, 1918, visitors to the Southeastern Fair at the Lakewood Fairgrounds were required by the Georgia State Board of Health to don face masks in order to prevent the spread of the Spanish flu.

Maynard Jackson was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 16, 1973. Jackson was the first African-Amercian Mayor of Atlanta; he served eight years, and was elected for a third, non-consecutive term in 1990.

On October 16, 1976, Jimmy Carter campaigned in Youngstown, Ohio.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the opening of early voting in some municipalities in Georgia. Click here to find early voting information for your county.

Conyers voters will cast their ballots on new machines that create a paper trail.

The state of Georgia will be testing a potential new voting machine system during the city of Conyers’ municipal elections starting Monday morning.

Georgia Elections Director Chris Harvey said they’re looking at replacing the state’s older touchscreen voting machines, and they’re looking at different systems.

The Secretary of State’s Office selected Conyers and the Rockdale County Board of Elections to run the test of the ExpressVote machine.

Voters receive a paper ballot that they feed into the electronic ballot-marking machine.Then, they select the candidates they want to vote for.

The marking machine doesn’t count the vote, it merely prints their selections onto the paper ballot. Once the selections have been made, the machine returns the paper ballot to the voter for approval.

If they want to make changes, they alert a poll worker who can spoil that ballot and give them a new one. If the paper ballot meets their approval, voters feed it into the tabulator which officially records the vote electronically, then records an optical scan of the ballot and stores the actual paper ballot in a secure box.

Welch thinks voters will like the fact they get a paper ballot to check their vote. She also believes the system is more secure than the current one.

“I like this system better, I do,” she said. “Much easier. Much, much easier.”

From the AJC:

Officials estimate a cost to implement a similar new system statewide could exceed $100 million and would need sign-off from the governor and state lawmakers. There are no plans currently to make that financial request next year, meaning it would be at least 2019 before it is considered.

That makes any switch-out of the state’s voting system a three- to four-year proposition, assuming the Secretary of State’s Office won approval to move forward.

Buford City Commissioner Chris Burge faces his first opponent – Gary A. Ingram – in over 25 years in office.

Coweta County early voting locations open today for municipal races and a SPLOST extension.

In-person sites are at the Coweta Voter Registration Office, 22 East Broad St. in downtown Newnan or at the Central Community Center, 65 Literary Lane, Newnan, near the intersection of Lower Fayetteville Road and Ga. Hwy. 154.

Early voting is 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until Nov. 3. There will be one day of Saturday voting, on Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Paper absentee ballots can be mailed out starting Monday as well. To request an absentee ballot, contact the voter registration office at 770-254-2615.

A vote on the extension of Coweta’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax will be on the ballot for all of Coweta. Voters will decide whether to renew the 1-percent sales tax, which expires at the end of 2018. If approved, the new SPLOST will begin on Jan. 1, 2019 and last for six years. The money is divided among Coweta County and its municipalities, and goes to fund a pre-determined set of capital projects. SPLOST money cannot be used for salaries or operations, only capital improvement projects, such as buildings, roads, and parks, and equipment and vehicles such as public safety radios, fire engines and patrol cars.

There will also be elections for city council seats in Senoia, Grantville, Turin, Sharpsburg and Palmetto.

 The Trispot Darter could be in line for federal wildlife protection.

A shiny orange fish living in a north Georgia river is being considered for federal protection as a rare species.

The trispot darter is already classified as endangered by state officials. Now, the U.S. government is looking to protect it as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The trispot darter lives in Georgia’s Conasauga River, but that’s not where it lays its eggs. The turquoise-spotted fish swims up into small streams to spawn. WABE reports it often finds man-made structures such dams or culverts under roads block its way, obstructing its effort to spawn and stopping it from reproducing.

“It is a beautiful little fish, and it has a unique life history and it’s really interesting,” said [U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service assistant field supervisor Jeff] Powell. “If we can keep this species alive in the Conasauga River, the way we’re going to do that is protecting water quality, and that benefits everybody.”

Conasauga Drug Court in Whitfield County celebrates 15 years of service.

A ceremony and celebration will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m at Rock Bridge Community Church’s Stage 123 in downtown. The public is invited, and Judge Jack Partain, who retired from Superior Court last year and served as the original judge over the drug court, will also be honored.

The Lowndes County Republican Party will host Secretary of State Brian Kemp at their meeting on Tuesday.

The Clarke County Board of Education declined to adopt rules limiting the terms of its President and Vice President.

Floyd County voters begin trekking to the polls for municipal elections and two sales tax measures.

In-person advance voting starts today for two countywide sales-tax proposals and open seats on Rome and Cave Spring elected boards.

Election day is Nov. 7.

Floyd County voters will decide on a proposed $80 million education local option sales tax package for the city and county school systems.

The three governments are also proposing a $63.8 million package of projects for funding through an extension of the special purpose, local option sales tax.

If the new packages are approved, there will be no change in Floyd County’s 7-cent sales tax when the current ELOST and SPLOST collections expire on March 31, 2019.

Additionally, Cave Spring voters will fill three seats on the city council. Voters in the Rome city limits will pick three city commissioners and all seven school board members.

The State House Commission on Transit Governance & Funding recommended hiring Deloitte Consulting to study the state’s transit needs.

The National Association of Realtors Fund has spent nearly $50k to elect Kirk Rich to the Atlanta City Council.

The organization reported spending $49,001.95 to support his race against attorney Jennifer Ide for an open City Council seat representing a swath of east Atlanta vacated by Alex Wan.

And the flood of money from the organization, which cannot coordinate with Rich’s campaign, could shake up the race: Rich has raised about $150,000 overall while Ide has collected about $120,000.

Rich, a veteran commercial real estate broker with deep ties to the industry, said Thursday that he learned of the contribution from this reporter – “holy Toledo,” was his first reaction – although he said he had recently started to see flyers from the group.

Ide, for her part, said she was disappointed to see a “huge sum of out-of-state money” seeking to influence the race.

“Decisions about who represents our neighborhoods should be made by neighbors without the undue influence of anonymously funded industry groups,” she said.

Democrat State Senate candidate Jaha Howard is taking fire over social media posts.

Kennesaw City Council member Jim Sebastian decided to run against his colleague, Jimmy Dickens, instead of running for reelection to the seat Sebastian already holds.

Sebastian, a 68-year-old broker consultant, said Friday that his decision to switch seats had nothing to do with Dickens’ performance on the City Council, but that he hoped to draw attention to the flaws in Kennesaw’s at-large system of electing council members.

“I want to instill in the council and the citizens just how archaic our election laws are,” he said.

Rather than electing council members at-large where all city residents can vote in each race, Sebastian said he would like to see Kennesaw’s City Council divided into districts where members are selected only by constituents living in the posts they represent.

Dickens, 47, said Friday he was shocked by his colleague’s decision to run against him this November.

“He told me he didn’t like the way we could (run for any seat), so he’s doing it,” Dickens said. “I was disappointed to say the least, but I guess he has the right to do that.”

Dickens said he has nothing but respect for Sebastian, who he said helped show him the ropes when Dickens first joined the City Council, and that he would continue to support him whether he wins or loses.

Eight candidates are running for State Senate District Six, vacated by Hunter Hill.

Democrats Jaha Howard, Jen Jordan and Taos Wynn and Republicans Leah Aldridge, Matt Bentley, Kathy Eichenblatt, Charlie Fiveash and Leo Smith are battling for the District 6 State Senate seat in a Nov. 7 nonpartisan special election to replace Hunter Hill, who resigned in August to run for governor in 2018.

The district includes Vinings and parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs. Only Howard, who lost to Hill with 48.4 percent of the vote last year, has run for office previously.

Locust Grove voters will choose between seven candidates to fill three City Council seats.

State House District Four voters will choose a new State Representative.

Two of three Georgia state House candidates said Thursday night they do not want to curb gun rights.

“People have a right to defend themselves,” said Eddie Caldwell, one of three Republicans running for the District 4 House seat left vacant when Bruce Broadrick retired last month.

Candidate Beau Patton also said gun rights should remain strong.

“We don’t have a gun problem,” he said. “We have a mental health problem. And I think that needs to be addressed more than anything. I would say gun control is not a good pathway to go down.”

The lone Democrat in the race, Peter Pociask, fell in line with progressives on the national stage. He said politicians need to think hard about how to prevent potential shooters from stockpiling weapons.

State House District 89 voters will choose among four demographically-diverse candidates.

Four first-time candidates hope to fill the shoes of former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta, who resigned in August to run for governor.

The candidates hoping to replace her could be the most racially diverse slate of legislative hopefuls in Georgia history.

All Democrats, they area white man, an African-American woman, an Indian-American man and a Vietnamese-American woman.

Though the demographics have shifted in recent years, African-Americans remain a majority in the 89th district that’s home to city neighborhoods including East Atlanta, Gresham Park and Cedar Grove.

As of June 30, [Sachin] Varghese’s had the strongest fundraising, taking in nearly $125,000. [Bee] Nguyen was a distant second with almost $55,000, while [Monique] Keane had raised about $10,000. [David] Abbott didn’t file a report because he was not running until after June 30.

Based on the disclosures, Varghese appears the clear choice of the party establishment, securing donations from some of the state’s most recognizable Democrats, including former Gov. Roy Barnes and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter.

Herman Cain will headline a fundraiser for Leo Smith’s Senate campaign on October 20th.

Leo Smith Herman Cain

DeKalb County voters will weigh-in on three countywide referendums.

1. Reduce homeowners’ property taxes: A change to the homestead local option sales tax (HOST) would lower residents’ property tax bills countywide. If approved, all revenue from this existing 1 percent sales tax would be returned to DeKalb homeowners. Currently, 80 percent of HOST goes toward property tax reduction and 20 percent for government infrastructure.

2. Raise DeKalb’s sales tax rate to 8 percent: The creation of a special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) would raise money to repave more than 318 miles of the county’s most worn-down roads, rebuild fire stations and repair other infrastructure. The HOST and SPLOST questions are paired together on the ballot so that both must pass to be enacted.

3. Preserve an existing homeowners’ property tax break: The frozen exemption offsets DeKalb property tax increases caused by rising property assessments. Voter approval of this measure would make the frozen exemption permanent for as long as the revised HOST — if it passes — remains in place.

Opioid Overdose Epidemic

NBC News looks at Dr. Gregory Whatley’s discovery of a cluster of opioid overdoses at Macon’s Navicent Medical Center.

Whatley, a veteran emergency room doctor, had just started the 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shift at Navicent Health Medical Center in Macon, Georgia, on June 4 when a barely conscious young women arrived by ambulance.

Whatley immediately administered the anti-overdose drug Narcan, but it had no effect on the gasping woman. So he worked a tube down her throat to open up her airway and started administering fluids and sedatives.

“Right around the same time, another woman came in with the same symptoms,” Whatley said. “I was so busy with my patient I did not give it much thought.”

Whatley knew that it would take more than one Percocet to cause this kind of overdose. What he didn’t know was that, within days, there would be 40 more cases like this woman’s — and that six of them would end in death.

It’s an outstanding piece that I highly recommend reading in its entirety.

Kennesaw State University’s Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery is holding training sessions to teach students what to do if they witness an overdose.

The training sessions — taught by peer education coordinator and trainer for the CYAAR Lindsay Montgomery — give students the opportunity to learn how to spot the warning signs of an opioid overdose, what steps to take when they see someone who might be suffering from an overdose, how Georgia’s medical amnesty law works, what naloxone is and how to administer it.

“College-aged young adults are one of the demographic groups most heavily affected by the opioid crisis,” Montgomery said. “By training and equipping our students with naloxone, we are preparing them for any situations that may arise in their peer groups or with acquaintances.”

While naloxone is often referred to as an antidote, Montgomery stressed that because the drug is temporary, people must always call authorities first when someone is suffering from an overdose. The effects of naloxone only last 30-90 minutes, so even if a person receives the drug, he or she will still need medical attention.

“Kennesaw State University Police and Public Safety are trained and equipped with naloxone kits,” Montgomery said. “In the event of a suspected overdose on campus, 911 or Kennesaw State’s emergency line should be called first. RAs are also equipped with naloxone kits in the dorms.”

The center will hold training sessions on both the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses through Dec. 5 to give any student who wants to learn how to administer naloxone and have a kit the chance to come.

Children and the foster care system are collateral damage in the opioid epidemic.

An increasing percentage of foster care cases involve all kinds of substance abuse issues in Glynn County and across the state.

So far this year, more than half of the cases in Glynn County in which the Department of Family and Children’s Services had to remove children from homes cited “drug abuse” as the reason for removal.

In 2014, only 30 percent cited “drug abuse” as the reason, according to Georgia DFCS data.

Children who come into foster care because of substance abuse also stay in care longer, and they are less likely to ever return home, said Susan Boatwright, a DFCS spokeswoman.

Around 80 percent of children who went into foster care due to substance abuse in 2016 remained in care a year later, Boatwright said.

Audrey Chapman, associate juvenile court judge in Glynn County, said drug abuse affects about three-fourths of the cases in Glynn County’s juvenile court.

Chapman has also seen a growing number of infants born with addictions, experiencing withdrawal symptoms from being exposed to drugs in the womb.

“We have seen a spike,” she said. “We’ve definitely seen a spike in not only drug-addicted babies but in drug-addicted parents to the opioids.”

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