Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 20, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 20, 2019

On August 20, 1781, General George Washington sent Continental troops from New York toward Yorktown, Virginia to engage British troops under Gen. Cornwallis.

On August 20, 1906, Gov. Joseph Terrell signed legislation to build a statue of Georgia founding father James Oglethorpe in Savannah and a bill to build a statue of former Confederate General and Georgia Governor John B. Gordon at the State Capitol.

The Georgia Department of Archives and History was created by legislation signed by Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey on August 20, 1918.

On August 20, 1920, the American Professional Football Association, which would later be renamed the National Football League, was formed in Akron, Ohio.

On August 20, 1923, Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation requiring state schools teach the United States and Georgia Constitutions and students pass an exam on the documents before being allowed to graduate.

On August 20, 1965, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones was released in the UK.

On August 20, 1974, President Gerald Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President of the United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp addressed the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gov. Brian Kemp offered two economic messages as he addressed the Gwinnett Chamber at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth Monday.

One was that Georgia’s economy has been doing well this year, with much of the speech focused on highlighting several big economic development projects that have been announced this year.

At the same time, Kemp also said the future prosperity isn’t guaranteed for the state, particularly because of circumstances taking place outside Georgia.

“We’ve had a great run,” Kemp said. “I don’t think the economy is going to stay quite as good for me as it did through the (Gov. Nathan Deal) years, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I think we’re in a really good position.”

“There’s just things happening around the world that are a little frustrating. You can’t really control them so we’ve just to deal with what we’ve got to deal with and keep chopping out there.”

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan spoke to the Cumming Vietnam Veterans, according to the Forsyth Herald.

He said health care is a “broken system,” because it’s too expensive and hard to get access to. He added that Georgia is working to improve it through a system called “Tele-health,” where people can access basic medical care via their cell phone. Duncan added this system would markedly improve care in rural Georgia where access to care is most problematic.

Duncan said Forsyth County has great schools, but many children around the state do not have the same opportunity for a good education.

Some Georgia voters are challenging the new voting system set to be rolled out for 2020 elections, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Georgia voters who want hand-marked paper ballots are challenging the new election system state officials are rushing to implement in time for next year’s presidential primaries, saying the new touchscreen machines remain vulnerable and their results unverifiable, even though they produce paper records.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the state’s purchase of a $106 million election system from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems last month, with plans to replace the outdated election management system and paperless touchscreen voting machines in use since 2002. He then certified the new system on Aug. 9, and said it will be in place in time for the March 24 primaries.

The voters’ petition, seeking a withdrawal of the certification and a re-examination of the Dominion system, was submitted Monday to Raffensperger’s office. It says the system doesn’t meet Georgia’s voting system certification requirements and doesn’t comply with the state election code.

Raffensperger, in a statement, said the allegations are false and not supported by facts. The state required that voting systems submitted for consideration be federally certified prior to review and the state certification was “a re-examination to confirm the accuracy of the federal certification,” he said.

Failed Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams spoke to the Macon Telegraph.

“Georgia is a battleground state in 2020. Not just for the presidency,” she said. “(Georgia) is an important metric in how we are moving forward as a country. That’s why we are launching our Fair Fight 2020 Georgia event in Gwinnett County. …We want to showcase just how vibrant Georgia is and how important it is going into this election cycle.”

“It’s an opportunity to have not just a national conversation but a national operation to ensure that every eligible American has access to the right to vote,” she told the Telegraph. “That is more important than any single job and any single ambition. I’m first and foremost an American, and I believe in the right to vote.”

Abrams told The Telegraph that more work still needs to be done in Georgia.

“Those are important first steps but they are not nearly enough,” Abrams said of the legislative changes to Georgia’s voter system. “We still have to address the fundamentals of how elections are conducted in the state of Georgia. … We have to ensure we have a voter database that is accurate.”

United States Senator David Perdue (R) spoke to WRBL.

Perdue will likely not face opposition in the primary and will wait for the Democratic challenger to emerge. That challenger could be Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson. She is canvassing the state preparing for the May 2020 primary.

Perdue would not mention Tomlinson by name when asked about her candidacy.

“Frankly, I don’t think it matters who they put up,” the senator said. “They’re going to be supportive of this radical socialist’s agenda that you hear the Democratic presidential nominees talking about. And members of the Democratic party in the senate have been talking about for the last few years. I am just focused on doing my job right now.”

The Atlanta Daily World looks at how larger numbers of black voters is affecting Georgia politics.

Although they are Georgia natives, state Reps. El-Mahdi Holly and Jasmine Clark are the faces of political and demographic change in their state, as new black residents in the Atlanta suburbs make their mark on Georgia’s Republican-dominated legislature.

Both Holly and Clark are black Democrats who defeated incumbent white Republicans last year for state House seats representing suburban Atlanta. They were part of a blue ripple that left Republicans in control of the Georgia legislature but cost the GOP nine seats in the House and two in the Senate.

The two new lawmakers credit their victories to black newcomers in their districts: Seven of the 10 U.S. counties with the fastest-growing black populations are near Atlanta, according to a Stateline analysis of 2018 census population estimates.

Atlanta suburbs such as Henry County, where Holly won election, have attracted black residents seeking warmer climates and a return to their roots — a reversal in part of the Great Migration, when millions of African Americans fled racism in the rural South for greater freedom and economic opportunity in the urban North, Midwest and West.

Henry County’s percentage of black residents (of all ages) grew from 39% to 48% between 2010 and 2018, the largest increase in the nation behind neighboring Rockdale County, which grew from 48% to 59%. Five other Georgia counties made the top 10: Douglas, Newton, Gwinnett, Clayton and Fayette. All had black populations grow more than 4 percentage points.

Fourteen seats in the state House representing the Atlanta area flipped from Republican to Democratic. Elsewhere in the state, three seats flipped the other way, and two vacant seats were filled by the GOP.

The number of votes cast by black residents in Henry County more than doubled between 2010 and 2018, from under 21,100 to over 43,000, according to Georgia election statistics. Black votes accounted for 44% of the county total. In Gwinnett County, the number of black votes more than doubled, from fewer than 45,000 in 2010 to more than 90,000 in 2018. They accounted for about 29% of the total votes cast in the county.

Candidates began qualifying for Savannah’s November elections, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Qualifying on Monday were Regina Thomas for mayor; Tony Center for the Post 2 At-Large seat; Incumbent John Hall and Linda Wilder-Bryan for the District 3 seat; Nick Palumbo for District 4; Estella Shabazz for District 5 and Kurtis Purtee and Antonio Hunter for District 6.

Qualifying runs through Friday. Potential candidates must qualifying in person at city hall, 2 E. Bay St.

Four candidates have qualified for Albany Mayor so far, according to the Albany Herald.

Two former commissioners – Bo Dorough and Henry Mathis – were among those who made their intentions for the mayor’s office official by paying fees of $700.

Incumbent Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta also was among those who qualified. Fees for a run for the commission are $450.

Among those seeking office for the first time are mayoral candidates Edward Allen and James Pratt Jr.

John Hawthorne and Leroy Smith qualified for the Ward VI seat currently held by Tommie Postell.

Cave Spring and Rome have qualified candidates for November elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Rob Ware qualified early Monday to run for Cave Spring mayor, a post he held for 12 years before stepping down at the end of 2015. The current mayor, Dennis Shoaf, resigned a council seat to run for the open position and is finishing his first four-year term.

In Rome, architect Mark Cochran launched a bid for one of the three Ward 1 City Commission seats. Incumbent Milton Slack also filed his papers Monday. The other two seats are currently held by Bill Irmscher and Sundai Stevenson.

Incumbent Bill Collins qualified for one of the Rome City Commission’s three Ward 3 seats Monday. The other two incumbents are Evie McNiece and Craig McDaniel.

The five Cave Spring Council seats are open to any qualified resident of the city. Posts 1 and 2 are on the ballot this year and the incumbents, Tom Lindsey and Joyce Mink, filed Monday to seek re-election.

Jimmy Herndon will run against incumbents Cobb County Sheriff Neal Warren, according to the AJC.

Jimmy Herndon, a former crime scene supervisor for the department who now works for a private security and investigatory firm, has announced his Democratic candidacy for the post. His campaign website is a blistering attack upon the longtime sheriff, accusing Warren of corruption and self-dealing. Herndon also guarantees that immigration will be a hot local topic in the year ahead. From his website:

I will end the 287(g) agreement, which wastes taxpayer resources. This program creates an undue burden on the taxpayers of Cobb county, who already fund U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement otherwise know as “ICE” through federal taxes.

Ending this program will not allow violent criminals to go free, as these people will continue to be detained in our facilities regardless of their citizenship. It will free up resources and allow deputies that are currently assigned only to this program to serve in other roles that can benefit all citizens and residents of our county.

The Cobb County Detention Center is dangerously understaffed. This will free up deputies to be able to work to safely keep inmates in custody.

The Gainesville Times looks at how sales tax revenues under a new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) might be spent.

SPLOST VIII is the eighth incarnation of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, a penny tax that can only be spent on specific capital projects

Municipalities must sign off on an agreement by Aug. 21 about how they would spend the money it raised, which is projected to be $217 million. The sales tax would be collected July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2026, if voters approve it Nov. 5.

The money is split among Hall County and its cities based on populations as of July 1, 2017, census numbers.

Warner Robins City Council will retain the same property tax millage rate, but rising property values make it a tax hike under state law, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The state requires that when a local government sees revenue gains from reassessment of property values, it must roll back the millage rate accordingly or announce it as a tax increase. The city plans to keep the millage rate at 9.98 mills, but that is 3.59% over the rollback rate, according to a release sent by Mayor Randy Toms on Monday.

The Houston County Commission and Houston County Board of Education have both taken the same action. Both left the millage rate the same as last year but had to hold public hearings announcing a tax increase over the rollback rate.

The Chatham County Board of Elections meets next week to discuss adding a new polling place in Pooler, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Chatham County Board of Elections has called a special meeting next week to discuss adding one additional polling place in Pooler for the Nov. 5 municipal elections.

The announcement from Board Member Antwan Lang follows a Pooler City Council meeting that ran long Monday night as citizens, City Attorney Steve Scheer and Lang discussed voter suppression, the delay in new Pooler polling precincts, and the long lines of the 2018 mid-term elections.

The BOE’s plan to add two additional precincts to Pooler has been in the works since voting times up to four hours were reported in Pooler during the mid-terms.

Currently, only one of the two new precincts in Pooler has a confirmed polling place. Shepherd Living, located at 101 Shepherd Way, is confirmed for BOE’s new precinct 7-16.

The Georgia State Transportation Board elected new leadership, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Tim Golden was named chairman; Rudy Bowen was named vice chairman; and Emily Dunn was named secretary, state officials said.

The new positions became effective immediately. Board elections are held annually to ensure all regions of the state are represented at the executive leadership level.

Golden of Valdosta represents the Eighth Congressional District. He most recently served as vice chair of the transportation board.

Golden replaces Ann R. Purcell of Rincon, who served on the board since 2013 and represents Georgia’s First Congressional District.

Bowen served 16 years in the Georgia State Senate prior to his election to the board in 2015. He served seven years as a representative in the Georgia House.

Bowen of Suwanee is a community and civic leader who represents the Seventh Congressional District. He was elected to the board in 2007 and most recently served as board secretary. Bowen attended the University of Georgia.

Dunn of Blue Ridge represents the Ninth Congressional District on the State Transportation Board. She was elected to the board in 2011 and served as the first female chair in 2015-16. Dunn, a community and civic leader, has been named to the Engineering Magazine 100 Influential Women to Know list two years in a row. She is a registered nurse who received her BSN from North Georgia College.

Cherokee County Commissioners are considering waiving business license fees for the first year, according to the Tribune Ledger News.

During the most recent work session of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, members discussed a request to waive first year business license fees as part of the “Cherokee Entrepreneurship” program.

Commission Chairman Harry Johnston said he believed this could demonstrate one way Cherokee County welcomes entrepreneurs and start-up companies to set up shop in the area.

Habersham County Commissioners agreed to sell the former City Hall to a private developer, according to AccessWDUN.

Valdosta City Schools will install metal detectors at Valdosta High School with state funding, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Valdosta High School has $30,000 to spend, a gift from state government, to be used for security and safety purposes.

Because the new high school, which has been open for a year now, contains many of the bells and whistles a safe and secure building would need — cameras, locked doors, even a guest checkpoint — Valdosta School Superintendent Dr. Todd Cason told board members last week he wants to add metal detectors to the school.

“The reason we’re having this conversation is because we have the funds,” Cason said. “We’re looking at various items to purchase and enhance our security at the high school. It’s just something we are discussing at this time, not because we had a major problem.”

Decatur County school system will issue devices to every employee to allow them to communicate during crises, according to the Post-Searchlight.

The Decatur County Board of Education approved the Centegix CrisisAlert system at its meeting Thursday, providing a powerful blend of hardware, software and wireless technologies to ensure fast, accurate and reliable emergency communications when it’s needed most by faculty and staff throughout the school system.

“This is the only thing I found that gives (employees) this kind of power at their fingertips,” said Superintendent Tim Cochran. “It will have the ability to call for an administrator. It will bring a map up on the administrator’s computer or phone, and they immediately know something is going on and where it’s at.”

The thin, card-sized device that employees wear will feature a button. Pressing it in different combinations will trigger different alerts for different problems, ranging from a fight between students or a health emergency to an active shooter situation. Alert strobe lights will be installed throughout the schools, and will trigger when needed. There is even an option to color-code the lights for different situations.

Every teacher’s computer in the school will receive an alert when a crisis is reported, eliminating crucial time spent with radios, phones and intercoms. The instantaneous system appealed to Cochran and the various school system employees he spoke to about Centegix CrisisAlert.

The Decatur County School System was recently awarded a grant from the state that needed to be spent on safety equipment. The $240,000 district-wide system will be fully paid for by the grant money.

The City of Lilburn named a room in City Hall after former Mayor Diana Preston, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

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