Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 11, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 11, 2019

On January 13, 1733, the ship Ann (sometimes spelled “Anne”) sailed into Charles Town harbor and was met by South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson and the Speaker of the Commons House of Assembly. Aboard the ship were James Oglethorpe and the first 114 colonists of what would become Georgia. Later that year they would land at a high bluff on the Savannah River and found the city of Savannah.

On January 11, 1765, Francis Salvador of South Carolina became the first Jewish elected official in America when he took a seat in the South Carolina Provincial Congress. Salvador’s grandfather was one of 42 Jews who emigrated to Georgia in 1733. Salvador later became the first Jewish soldier to die in the American Revolution.

On January 12, 1775, St. Andrews Parish on the Georgia coast passed a series of resolutions that included approving the actions of patriots in Massachusetts, three resolutions critical of British government actions, and a renunciation of slavery. The resolutions also appointed delegates to a provincial legislature at Savannah and urging that Georgia send two delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia the next year.

On January 11, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument.

“Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he declared. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Marvin Griffin of Bainbridge was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 11, 1955.

Marvin Griffin Monument

On January 13, 1959, Ernest Vandiver was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia.

On January 13, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), making Weaver the first African-American cabinet secretary in U.S. History.

Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.

On January 13, 1982, Hank Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

The first inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris was held on January 11, 1983; his second inauguration was January 13, 1987.

On January 13, 1998, Governor Zell Miller presented his $12.5 billion FY1999 budget to the Georgia General Assembly, including $105,000 to provide CDs of classical music for every baby born in the state. According to the New York Times,

“No one questions that listening to music at a very early age affects the spatial, temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess,” the Governor said[]. “Having that infant listen to soothing music helps those trillions of brain connections to develop.”

Mr. Miller said he became intrigued by the connection between music and child development at a series of recent seminars sponsored by the Education Commission of the States. As a great-grandfather and the author of “They Hear Georgia Singing” (Mercer University Press, 1983), an encyclopedia of the state’s musical history, Mr. Miller said his fascination came naturally.

He said that he had a stack of research on the subject, but also that his experiences growing up in the mountains of north Georgia had proved convincing.

“Musicians were folks that not only could play a fiddle but they also were good mechanics,” he said. “They could fix your car.”

Legislators, as is their wont, have ideas of their own.

“I asked about the possibility of some Charlie Daniels or something like that,” said Representative Homer M. (Buddy) DeLoach, a Republican from Hinesville, “but they said they thought the classical music has a greater positive impact.”

“Having never studied those impacts too much,” Mr. DeLoach added, “I guess I’ll just have to take their word for that at the moment.”

In 2003, on January 13 at the Georgia Dome, Sonny Perdue took the oath of office as Georgia’s second Republican Governor, the first since Reconstruction.

A little over five years ago, on January 10, 2014, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution released a poll of the Georgia Governor’s race that showed Nathan Deal with 47 percent to 38 percent for Jason Carter. The nine-point Deal advantage was as close as the AJC polling firm would come all year to correctly predicting the point spread in the General Election.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Elect Brian Kemp rallied with campaign supporters in Fort Valley yesterday, according to 41NBC.

“These appreciation events are a way for us to go back to all parts of our state, including Central and Middle Georgia, and thank people and let them know that I ran for governor work in this state and I’m going to be a governor that governs this whole state,” Kemp said.

Republicans across the state are looking forward to solidifying Kemp’s win.

“He’s going to keep Georgia great,” Kemp supporter Janice Westmoreland said.

“Make Georgia number one for small businesses, reform state governments so they can budget conservatively, to fund teacher pay raises, help school secure facilities, and go after street gangs and drug cartels,” Kemp said.

“My priorities in this session is going to be working with Lieutenant Governor Jeff Duncan on continuing to strengthen rural hospitals by increasing the rural hospital tax credit . We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to do that,” Kemp said.

Governor Elect Kemp also held an event in Blakely to honor first responders, according to WTVY.

“Our day to day operations have returned to normal, but it’s a new normal,” said Georgia State Patrol Commander Jeromy Roberts. “We have a lot of debris trucks on the road. We’re having to keep traffic of them while they’re cleaning up. It’s normal, but it’s a new normal.”

“I mean it was unbelievable what I saw down here,” said Kemp. “I said in my remarks, I’ve never been prouder to see how hard the people worked, the sacrifices they made at all levels of government and just personally just to help their friends and neighbors in a time of need and devastation.”

“It’s beyond devastating,” said Kemp. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Watching it on a news camera does not give you an appreciation for what it’s like on the ground.”

From WALB in Albany:

Governor Elect Brian Kemp said the way first responders responded during Hurricane Michael made him “proud to be a Georgian.”

“I have never been prouder to be a Georgian than when I saw our folks here on the ground working and you were the ones doing that.”

“The interaction that we are having with getting federal funding to pay for all of this and the federal match is something that I’ll have to be dealing with. There is a lot more that needs to be done in Washington that’s outside of that type funding that’s nontraditional.”

Towards the end of his speech Kemp broke down his plans after inauguration, which include increasing teacher pay and school safety, reforming the government, making Georgia number one for small business, and strengthening rural Georgia.

Gov. Elect Kemp will visit the National Infantry Museum in Columbus today, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Kemp will join other elected officials and other invited guests for a military appreciation breakfast in the National Infantry Museum’s Cavezza Hall.

Prior to the formal breakfast, Kemp is scheduled to hand out biscuits to soldiers entering Ft. Benning to begin their work day, said Cyndy Cerbin, director of communications at the National Infantry Museum foundation.

Kemp’s tour also includes stops today in Whitesburg and Gainesville and tomorrow in Dalton.

U.S. Representative Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) is seeking information from the postal service about a potential move of the Green Street Post Office, according to the Gainesville Times.

Congressman Collins also introduced federal legislaiton to improve broadband availability for rural areas, according to the Gainesville Times.

The bill, named the Connect America Fund Accountability Act of 2019, outlines additional guidelines for the Connect America Fund, a Federal Communications Commission program that incentivizes broadband carriers to provide service to underserved or rural areas.

“For years, Northeast Georgians have consistently struggled to gain access to reliable broadband speeds. Congress has taken significant steps toward expanding rural broadband infrastructure in recent years, including securing federal funding to providers in rural areas,” Collins said in a statement. “However, some carriers – particularly in Northeast Georgia – have failed to provide adequate broadband speeds to consumers despite collecting taxpayer dollars.”

The bill would require recipients of fund dollars to provide additional information about how they test their services, mandating that the carrier report their testing method and choose a sample that is representative of their consumers.

State House Speaker David Ralston sounds disinclined toward revisiting religious liberty protections, according to AccessWDUN.

Ralston said Thursday during a state Capitol news conference that he’s concerned such legislation could “tear the fabric of the state.”

State Senator Chuck Payne (R-Dalton) spoke to the Dalton Daily News about his expectations for the 2019 General Assembly.

State Representative Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) attended the White House signing of federal anti-human trafficking legislation, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

On Wednesday, State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) attended the White House’s Oval Office signing ceremony of Senate Bill 1862, which revises the criteria for determining whether countries are meeting the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking and allows for actions to be taken against countries that fail to meet the new standards.

The bill also allows for the U.S. Agency for International Development to incorporate child protection and anti-trafficking strategies for countries on a special watch list and includes provisions regarding child soldier protection efforts.

“I want to thank President Donald Trump for his leadership in working to end human trafficking and save victims from this evil criminal enterprise,” Efstration said. “Enacting this bipartisan legislation is a crucial step in the effort to combat this worldwide epidemic.”

Georgia’s Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission recommended the use of voting machines to electronically record votes and produce a paper record, according to AccessWDUN.

After Georgia’s 2018 elections focused stinging criticism on the state’s outdated election system, a study commission voted Thursday to recommend the use of machines that record votes and print a record.

Members of the panel tasked with considering a potential replacement chose that option over hand-marked paper ballots favored by cybersecurity experts.

Commission members agreed that Georgia needs a voting system with a paper record of votes cast, but disagreed over how ballots should be marked. The majority favored touchscreen ballot-marking machines that print a paper record, while the minority preferred paper hand-marked ballots read by optical scanners.

The Rome News-Tribune looks at campaign finance disclosures from local legislators.

Hall County Commissioners received no public comments on a “Brunch Bill” measure that would allow earlier alcohol sales on Sundays, according to the Gainesville Times.

Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy held a town hall meeting on St Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.

During a presentation at the beginning of the meeting, he updated the public on efforts to regulate short term rentals and golf carts.

Under the current ordinances, county code enforcement has a hard time dealing with short-term rentals. In addition, they often use third-party websites to avoid paying bed taxes on rentals.

County officials have been talking with a consultant that has helped other local governments establish regulations on short term rentals, and may bring them on board to do the same in the Golden Isles soon, he said.

Regulating golf carts is a little more complicated of a subject, however. County code isn’t up to state standards, but the state law isn’t as strict as county officials would like, he said.

The Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce is backing a local SPLOST (“Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax”) in Whitfield County, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

 “We think the community has made great strides over the past couple of years, and we think the SPLOST will help us continue to build on that momentum,” said chamber President Rob Bradham Thursday morning at the chamber’s Good Morning Dalton breakfast at the Dalton Convention Center.

Voters will decide the SPLOST’s fate on March 19. The 1 percent sales tax is applied to most goods and services bought in the county. If approved, the SPLOST would begin on July 1 of this year and run for six years. There is currently a county-wide SPLOST that expires on June 30.

The current SPLOST funded a new emergency radio system for first responders, new firetrucks for both the Dalton and Whitfield fire departments, and a new county fire station near Cohutta. It also funded a new park at the Haig Mill reservoir and improvements at Lakeshore Park, among other “quality of life” improvements.

“We certainly have abundant data that tells us that quality of life and lack of available housing are the two primary reasons people choose not to live here,” said Bradham. “This (proposed) SPLOST invests in our local quality of life through new recreational opportunities, investments in public safety and improvements downtown amongst other things.”

Trey King has been appointed Mayor of Dacula by City Council members, to fill the term of the late Mayor Jimmie Wilbanks, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The chairman of Dacula’s planning and zoning commission will lead the city as its new mayor for the next three years.

The Dacula City Council appointed Trey King on Thursday to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks, who died last week after a battle with cancer. Wilbanks had served two stints as mayor, the most recent beginning in 2002. He was last elected in 2017, meaning he had completed only one year out of a four-year term.

City attorney Dennis Still said that the council appointed a new mayor rather than call for a special election because of the way the City Charter outlines the process for filling vacancies.

“(The charter) says ‘In the case of a vacancy in the office of mayor, from failure to elect, death, removal or any cause whatsoever, such vacancy shall be filled by appointment by the council. Such appointments shall be for the remainder of the unexpired term,’ ” Still said. “That’s why (a three-year appointment was made).”

Valdosta Mayor John Gayle is asking whether the city is ready to consider building a performing arts center, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Former Valdosta City Council Member and Mayor David Sumner announced he will run for Mayor, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Sumner is a lifelong resident of Valdosta and served three terms on the Valdosta City Council from 1998 to 2007. He has served as mayor pro-tem and as mayor following the death of Mayor James H. Rainwater.

Sumner was elected by members of the council to serve the remainder of Rainwater’s term.

He is a past president of the Independent Insurance Agents Association of Georgia and served as a member of the state government affairs committee of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.

Dr. Mary Beth Walker will serve as interim President of Georgia Gwinnett College after current President Stas Preczewski retires, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Oatland Island Wildlife Center will hold a reopening on Saturday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

A loggerhead turtle hatchling found in a hotel room will move to a larger tank at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, according to the Savannah Morning News.

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