Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 18, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 18, 2019

British forces under General Sir Henry Clinton left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 18, 1778 after occupying the former capital for nine months.

On June 18, 1807, commissioners from Georgia and North Carolina agreed to recognize the 35th parallel as the boundary between the two states. North Carolina conducted a survey that placed the boundary further South than the 35th parallel, though Georgia never accepted the survey and continues to argue that the 35th is the proper boundary against both North Carolina and Tennessee.

As of today, the dispute with Tennessee continues.

The War of 1812 began on June 18, 1812, as President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain passed by the House and Senate.

On June 18, 1873, Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for illegally voting in Rochester, New York. At the conclusion of her trial, the judge read a statement that, “The Fourteenth Amendment gives no right to a woman to vote, and the voting by Miss Anthony was in violation of the law,” and directed the jury to convict her. Anthony responded,

“Yes, your honor, I have many things to say; for in your ordered verdict of guilty, you have trampled underfoot every vital principle of our government,” Anthony said. “My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor’s verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government.”

The Southern Railway Company was organized on June 18, 1894 and through predecessor railroads traces its heritage to the nation’s first regularly-scheduled railroad service, The Best Friend of Charleston. Samuel Spencer, of Columbus, Georgia, was the first President of the Southern. In the 1980s, the Southern merged with Norfolk & Western Railway to form Norfolk Southern.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump will kick off his reelection campaign tonight. Check with your local GOP organizations for watch parties.

Coweta County Trump Rally Watch Party

Women for Trump and Paulding GOP Watch Party

Buckhead Young Republicans Panel and Watch Party

Democrat Joe Biden put down a marker on his ability to win Georgia in the 2020 Presidential election, according to CBS News.

Joe Biden believes that if he’s the Democratic nominee, he’ll win the South. Though in the past, some Democrats have contemplated skipping over the South, where it’s been notoriously difficult for a Democrat to win, the former vice president claimed that wouldn’t be his strategy.

“I plan on campaigning in the South,” Biden said at the Moral Action Congress of the Poor People’s Campaign, in Washington, D.C. Monday. “I plan on, if I’m your nominee, winning Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, believe it or not, and I believe we can win Texas and Florida, if you look at the polling data now.”

Leaked polls from Trump campaign pollsters suggest that Biden leads Trump in Georgia, according to the AJC.

Less attention was paid to the fact that in that leaked poll data, which Trump campaign officials say is outdated, Trump trailed Biden by 8 points in North Carolina and 6 points in Georgia.

With the exceptions of 1976 (Jimmy Carter) and 1992 (Bill Clinton), Republicans have had a lock on the South since the Civil Rights era in the 1960s.

Trump won North Carolina in 2016 with 50.5% of the vote. He took Georgia by 51.3%.

But both states have large urban populations, and equally large suburbs, where Republican support among college-educated women diminished sharply in the 2018 mid-terms.

President Trump will kick off his 2020 re-election bid on Tuesday with a rally in Florida.

Voters in Coweta County will choose a new Sheriff today, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Four men are vying to serve as Coweta County’s sheriff for a year, and voters will make their decisions today.

Many Cowetans have already voted early or cast an absentee ballot. The candidates for sheriff are Jimmy Callaway, Randolph Collins, Doug Jordan and Lenn Wood. All have participated in forums in recent weeks.

Wood has been serving as sheriff since March 1. He succeeded Mike Yeager, the longtime sheriff who retired after his appointment as a U.S. marshal.

All precincts in the county will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Murray County voters will choose a new school board member in a special election today, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Murray County residents will decide on Tuesday who will fill a four-year term in the District 5 seat on the Board of Education.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Mitchell Wilson moved out of the district last year and could no longer serve on the board. Board members named Ray Ingle to serve the remainder of that term, which ended on Dec. 31, then reappointed Ingle to serve in the seat until a special election could be held to fill a full, four-year term on the board. That special election was to have been held on March 19, but no one qualified. When that election didn’t take place, board members appointed Conrad Puryear, who is running in Tuesday’s special election, to the District 5 seat. The Board of Elections called another special election for Tuesday.

Joshua Abernathy and Puryear, both Republicans, qualified for this special election, which is nonpartisan.

Governor Brian Kemp asked that former U.S. Attorney and Congressman Bob Barr be added to a shortlist for appointment to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, according to the Daily Report.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr is Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s likely pick to fill a position opening July 1 on the state’s judicial watchdog commission, according to two State Bar of Georgia officials.

Barr—a former U.S. attorney and the Libertarian Party’s 2008 presidential nominee—was added at the request of Kemp’s staff to a list of lawyers the bar recommended to replace Athens attorney Edward Tolley on the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. Kemp’s request to add Barr was confirmed by Ken Hodges—now a judge on the state Court of Appeals—and Dentons partner Edward Lindsey, chairman of the bar’s JQC nominations committee.

State law governing JQC appointments gives the governor authority to appoint one lawyer to the commission’s investigative panel, which reviews allegations of potential judicial misconduct and brings ethics charges when warranted. The governor also appoints a citizen member to the JQC’s three-person judicial panel.

Lindsey said members of the governor’s staff “asked for us to vet [Barr], and we did, along with the others.”

Lindsey said his committee unanimously agreed to forward a list of six lawyers, including Barr, to the state bar’s board of governors for approval. Hodges said the board unanimously approved the list and then forwarded it to Kemp.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter filed a federal lawsuit seeking $5 million dollars from the county, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

In a new lawsuit filed in federal district court last week, Hunter’s attorney, Dwight Thomas, asserted Hunter’s Facebook comments — in which the commissioner called U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a “rascist pig” — constituted “political speech” and was therefore protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Hunter’s colleagues on the commission issued a written reprimand against him following a months-long ethics investigation and hearing process.

“The defendant, Gwinnett County, acquiesces in sanctions, the reprimand and chilling of First Amendment political speech that does not, and never will, constitute any ‘clear and present danger,’” Thomas wrote in the lawsuit.

In addition to $5 million in general and special damages, Hunter also wants the reprimand rescinded, attorneys fees, unspecified punitive damages and unspecified compensatory damages for “lost income, costs associated and humiliation, emotional distress, inconvenience and loss of economic opportunities caused by the defendants actions and statements.”

Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash declined a request Monday to comment on Hunter’s latest lawsuit.

Forsyth County Commissioners are considering a novel approach to issuing Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) bonds, according to AccessWDUN.

County Manager Eric Johnson recommended the transition as a best practices move advised by financial advisors Davenport and Company but District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent expressed concerns.

He said, “The fact that we’ve got a AAA bond rating when we can get a better rate on these markets when people are bidding direct with what they charge us on bond a lot of it rests back on we have AAA rating with two of the biggest companies out there.”

Johnson … called the competitive sale method the best practices, which allows any broker-dealer or dealer bank to bid on them.

Previously, the bonds were sold via a negotiated sale, meaning the underwriter bought them first before selling them off.

Gainesville Board of Education adopted a $75 million dollar FY 2020 budget with a full rollback of the millage rate, according to the Gainesville Times.

The board held two public meetings before casting the final vote on the budget and a millage rate of 6.614.

That figure is a full rollback of the tax rate, down from 6.85, to account for increases in revenue from property tax reassessments.

The tax rate was 7.48 mills just five years ago, but it has decreased as residential and commercial growth expands throughout the city.

From AccessWDUN:

The board unanimously approved the millage rate and the budget at their meeting Monday night, following the second and final public hearing for the budget.

“We’re looking to go into our reserves slightly, but the great part about all of it is that we’re able to bring forth a budget that allows us to roll the millage rate all the way back to 6.614, the first time in a number of years we’ve been able to do that,” said Superintendent Jeremy Williams, adding that he was proud of the hard work Chief Financial Officer Kathy Pethel and the finance department did to make the budget and millage rate a success.

The budget includes 4% raises for classified staff, a $3,000 legislative pay increase for teachers, and some new buses.

The Floyd County Board of Education adopted a partial rollback millage rate, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The county schools board of education met Monday morning where they recognized retiring personnel, approved the fiscal year 2020 budget and rolled back the county millage rate by .05%.

A millage rate is the rate per $1000 of property value and is used to calculate local property taxes. Rates vary by property value.

The board lowered the rated .05% last year as well making the rate 18.3% for 2018. The proposed rate of 18.25% will receive two public hearings.

The board finalized the FY 20 budget which is posted on their website at The budget includes a $3,000 raise for certified employees and a 2% raise for classified employees.

Warner Robins City Council voted to double the salary for council members, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The council voted 3-1 to raise its annual salary from $5,000 to $10,000.

Councilman Tim Thomas cast the only opposing vote, while council members Daron Lee, Clifford Holmes and Larry Curtis voted for it.

Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins, who has been battling health issues, was absent, as well as Councilman Keith Lauritsen. Mayor Randy Toms said after the meeting that Lauritsen was recovering from dental surgery.

Holmes was the leading proponent of the increase. He said the council had not had an increase in 22 years and that council members in many smaller cities in the state make more money. The Macon-Bibb commissioners, who preside over a population of approximately 152,000 people, make $15,000 annually. The population of Warner Robins is about 75,000.

Grantville City Council adopted a new policy on travel, according to the Newnan Times Herald.

Grantville city officials will have to get approval from the city council to travel at city expense, effective July 1, no matter what type of event they will be attending.

The council made the decision at its last meeting, 3 to 1. Councilmembers Jim Sells, Alan Wacaser and Mark King voted in favor of the change. Councilwoman Ruby Hines was against it. Mayor Doug Jewell was also against it.

Sells had the issue placed on the agenda and said citizens should be informed when they’re footing the bill and that the travel policy has been abused.

Derik Minard was sworn in as the new Savannah Fire Chief, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Questions surround language used to describe the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education’s proposed property tax millage rate, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Several Savannah-area residents say the information the school district has posted to its website on the millage rate is inconsistent and inaccurate.

A large headline at the top of the school system’s homepage says, “Budget Millage Rate to Remain Unchanged,” while the notice of a public meeting scheduled for Wednesday says, “Public Hearing #3 — Proposed Millage Rate Increase.”

So which is it? The answer depends on whether you are considering the rollback rate to be the school system’s millage rate or if you are comparing the proposed millage rate with the millage rate this time a year ago for the school’s fiscal 2019 budget. Citizen Paul Giguere said he was confused by an ad the school board placed in the newspaper that said, “This tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 18.881 mills, which is no increase in mills.”

The school board’s public notice, published June 5, states the 18.881 millage rate is expected to provide a 5.35% increase in net tax revenue. It set a rollback rate of 18.284. The previous rollback rate was 16.323.

A year ago, the school board adopted a millage rate of 18.881 mills, up 15.67% from the rollback rate of 16.323 and an increase of 13.5% from the previous rate of 16.631 mills. A mill is a rate per $1,000 in property value, but the local assessor deducts a proportion from a property’s valuation to determine the value used. Exemptions also might apply to reduce the value multiplied by the millage rate. Many exemptions vary by county and special exemptions apply to some qualified homeowners but not others.

The Dougherty County Commission discussed developments in the proposed FY 2020 budget, according to the Albany Herald.

The commission is expected to vote on the budget at its meeting scheduled for next week.

The United States Department of Energy awarded grants to five organizations to train Augusta’s workforce, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration in the U.S. Department of Energy, was surrounded by the heads of the five institutions – Augusta and Aiken technical colleges, Augusta University and the University of South Carolina’s Aiken and Salkehatchie campuses – along with two U.S. congressmen and numerous other officials when she made the announcement Monday at Aiken Tech.

“As many of you know, our mission at Savannah River Site will be growing, not decreasing,” Gordon-Hagerty said. “The Department of Energy and NNSA are committed to this partnership and helping sustain the great work being done.”

The grant doubles the current annual funding for a regional nuclear careers program administered by the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization, which since 2016 has received $1 million per year to coordinate programs across the institutions, the NNSA said in a news release.

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