Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 9, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 9, 2019

Today is Leif Erikson Day, celebrating the Norse explorer being the first European to visit North America. From Mental Floss:

While the actual date of Leif Erikson Day doesn’t have anything personally to do with Leif, it was picked for the holiday because it’s the anniversary of the day that the ship Restauration arrived in New York from Stavanger, Norway, back in 1825. The arrival of the Restauration marked the beginning of organized immigration from Scandinavia to the USA. The holiday was first recognized by Wisconsin in 1930, eventually becoming a nationally observed holiday in 1964.

The Chicago Fire began on October 8, 1871. A completely different kind of Chicago Fire is underway now.

On October 8, 1895, the Liberty Bell arrived in Atlanta for the Cotton States Exposition.

The famously–cracked 2,000 pound pealer left Philadelphia on seven trips between 1885 and 1915. Each time it came home with more cracks. It turned out the men hired to guard the Bell were taking liberties, literally: chipping off pieces and selling them as souvenirs.

Cheering crowds greeted the Bell in Atlanta. A two–mile parade took it to Piedmont Park, where 50,000 people lined up to see it.

Liberty Bell in Atlanta

Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Georgia Historical Society have an interesting video on the Liberty Bell’s trip to Atlanta. You can view a photo of the Liberty Bell Parade at the Atlanta History Center.

On October 9, 1963, the Board of Regents approved a new junior college in Cobb County that is today Kennesaw State University. The next year, Cobb County voters approved a bond referendum to fund construction.

Polling released on October 8, 1976 indicated that Democrat Jimmy Carter won the second debate against President Gerald Ford by a 50-27 margin.

Democrat Jimmy Carter challenged President Gerald Ford to make his income tax returns public on October 9, 1976.

On October 8, 1981, former Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter visited with President Ronald Reagan at the White House before heading to Egypt to represent the United States at the funeral of assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Four Presidents

Long-time Atlanta Braves pitcher Phil Niekro won his 300th game on October 8, 1984, though he wore Yankees pinstripes for that game.

United States Senator Sam Nunn announced on October 9, 1995 that he would not run for reelection. From CNN’s contemporary story:

“I know in my heart it is time to follow a new course,” Nunn told reporters gathered in the Georgia State Capitol. He said his decision followed “a lot of thought and prayer” and he expressed enthusiasm about meaningful days ahead in the private sector.

“Today I look forward to more freedom, to more flexibility,” he said, adding he planned to spend time with his family, to write, and “devote a substantial amount of time” to public policy and public service. He said he has no immediate plans for a presidential bid.

Nunn hailed America as “the greatest country in the world,” but cited problems that need attention, including education concerns, illegitimate children, and widespread violence and drugs. He expressed optimism on such items as the strong military and entitlement reform.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said of Sam Nunn’s retirement,

“For those who listened carefully, it is clear that the Democratic Party is not the vehicle for the values outlined by Sen. Nunn.”

Nolan Waters of Knight-Ridder wrote of the announcement,

Nunn’s departure is a watershed.

“Nunn is the last of the great moderate Southern Democrats. This creates a huge hole for the party,” said Merle Black, a specialist on Southern politics at Emory University in Atlanta.

Nunn, like President Clinton, helped organize a group of moderate Democrats, the Democratic Leadership Council, in an attempt to move the party rightward after the 1984 landslide re-election of President Reagan.

“He has been fighting the liberal wing of his party for over two decades,” Black said. “It’s been a losing battle.”

In place of Nunn, the state’s most prominent politician is becoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich – whose futuristic, activist style of conservatism seems radical along-side Nunn’s traditionalism.

The first C-5A airplane arrived at Robins Air Force Base on October 8, 1997.

C-5 at Robins

On October 8, 1998, the United States House of Representatives voted 258-176 to authorize an impeachment inquiry against President Bill Clinton.

President George W. Bush issued an Executive Order establishing the Department of Homeland Security on October 8, 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia will host a clown-car debate of Democratic candidates for President, according to the AJC.

Georgia will host the Democratic presidential debate on Nov. 20, another indication that the state is a top political battleground in next year’s election.

Democratic Party of Georgia chairwoman Nikema Williams told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday she was not clear where the debate will be held, but that it would likely be in metro Atlanta.

“All roads to the White House run through Georgia,” she said.

“When you look at what’s at stake in Georgia — two Senate races — there aren’t many opportunities like that,” [Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms] said after the Houston debate. “To have that opportunity in Georgia, it only makes sense that we bring this field of candidates to our state.”

Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer said he believed the visit from Democrats would help President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

“I am delighted that hard working Georgians will have an up-close view of these ridiculous candidates and their ruinous proposals,” Shafer said. “It should boost the president’s prospects here in Georgia.”

The Georgia Republican Party changed its rules on delegate awards, according to the AJC.

Three senior Trump campaign officials said on a conference call Monday that they pressed party officials in 37 states to make it harder for a Republican primary opponent to emerge at the nominating convention in Charlotte in August 2020.

In Georgia, that effort unfolded in May when the state GOP quietly adopted a rule that makes it harder for lesser-known candidates to win delegates.

Under the rules, a candidate who wins a plurality of votes statewide automatically captures all of the statewide and at-large delegates. And the candidate who wins a plurality in each congressional district automatically captures all three delegates from the district.

The previous rules used in the 2016 election let candidates capture at least a handful of delegates if they won 20% of the vote statewide or, in some cases, if they finished in a strong second-place in a congressional district.

That meant that Trump, who won Georgia with about 40% of the vote in the primary, netted about 42 of Georgia’s 76 delegates. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won 18 and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio won the remaining 16.

The new changes only apply to presidential primaries scheduled after March 15; shortly after they were adopted, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger set the primary for March 24.

Jack Kingston and Randy Evans have applied for appointment to the United States Senate, according to the AJC.

Evans honed his legal reputation as an attorney for House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Gov. Nathan Deal, co-chair of the state Judicial Nominating Commission, counsel to the Georgia GOP and a Republican National Committeeman.

Kingston has transformed himself into a cable TV pundit – and defender of President Donald Trump – since his defeat. He’d focus a campaign on his grassroots organization skills and ties to the president, though his recent lobbyist work will be a liability.

“It’s an honor to continue serving Georgia in any way I can,” Kingston said in a statement, “and I fully trust the governor’s decision-making process.”

Monday was the voter registration deadline for many municipal elections, according to WCTV.

This year, there are several different ways for Lowndes County voters can register, including in person at the Lowndes County election office, online through the Secretary of State website, or at the Department of Driver Services.

“If you go in there and change your address or update anything, you’re automatically registered or updated in the election process.” said Election Supervisor Deb Cox.

Campaign signs have popped all all across Valdosta ahead of a few big local races. Valdosta Mayor, City Council seats, the Georgia “brunch bill” referendum, as well as an upcoming SPLOST referendum will all be on the ballot.

This year the Peach State is rolling out a new voting system. Lowndes County is one of six ‘test counties’ to try the new system.

The deadline to register online [was] midnight Monday. Election night is on November 5.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler will host an employment summit in Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The summit, part of the “Employers in the ” series of meetings, will be held 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Wiregrass Technical College, 4089 Val Tech Road, according to a statement from Labor Commissioner Mark Butler’s office.

The meetings offer the commissioner a chance to meet with employers around the state to share the department’s work.

“These summits are always a learning experience for the department and me,” Butler said. “We are able to inform businesses directly about programs and regulations that may impact their companies. But more importantly, I get to hear directly about what we can do to help make the state even more attractive as a place to locate and grow a business.”

There’s a new addition with participation by leadership of Gov. Brian Kemp’s Georgians First Commission. That group will join in at all 12 stops in the “Employers in the Know” series, state officials said.

“The Georgians First Commission looks forward to partnering with Commissioner Butler in this event,” said Scott Hilton, GFC executive director. “Together we will make Georgia the number one state for small business, and an even better place to live, work and operate a business.”

Early voting is open in two Atlanta elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Early voting is under way for the two Oct. 15 special runoff elections. It began Oct. 7 and runs through Oct. 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Residents will be casting ballots for candidates in the District 6 Fulton County Board of Commissioners race to fill the seat vacated by Emma Darnell, who died in May, and in the District 2 Atlanta Board of Education special election to replace Byron Amos, who left the post in January to run for the District 3 Atlanta City Council seat.

In the District 6 race, Joe Carn and Gordon Joyner are heading to a runoff after getting 26.33% and 20.04%, respectively. In the District 2 campaign, Aretta Baldon and Davida Huntley are bound for a runoff after receiving 30.65% and 25.27%, respectively.

The Macon Telegraph looks at the upcoming municipal election in Warner Robins.

Three seats are up for election and one is vacant. Stephen Baughier, Charlie Bibb and Eric Langston are competing for the Post 2 seat held by Carolyn Robbins, who did not seek re-election and died Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, Post 4 Councilman Tim Thomas is facing a challenge from Kevin Lashley, and Post 6 incumbent Larry Curtis Jr. is being challenged by Miranda Britt and Jon Nichols.

The election will be held Nov. 5. Early voting starts Oct. 15 and will be done at City Hall.

Tybee Island City Council candidates discussed issues at an issues forum, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia, Forever Tybee, 100 Miles, the Junior League of Savannah and Savannah Morning News, covered a wide range of Tybee Island issues from golf carts to climate change.

Monday’s forum follows a Tybee mayoral candidate forum the LWV hosted last week.

There are four contested council seats on the Nov. 5 ballot: three four-year terms and one two-year term.

One hot-button issue for the island community is the noise and frequent overcrowding of short-term vacation rentals.

Consultants presented a plan to Savannah to raise pay for all employees, according to the Savannah Morning News.

New police officers in Savannah could have the highest pay in the region if the city accepts the recommendations included in an employee compensation and job classification study.

City Manager Pat Monahan said the wage recommendations from the pay plan would be part of budget planning for 2020. The cost to implement the plan as proposed is $5.7 million.

Council voted in November of 2018 to pay the Virginia firm $118,505 to conduct the study. The plan is part of the city’s efforts to ensure fair pay and to retain and attract employees.

The plan recommends across the board raises of 2% for all employees and also sets minimum and maximum pay rates. It also creates a step increase system for public safety employees that are non-exempt. Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime. The plan also sorts employees into three different pay plans: unified for general employees, public safety plan for sworn positions and a managerial plan for those in senior leadership positions.

Whitfield County and the City of Dalton are in a standoff over a prospective Service Delivery Agreement, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Whitfield County Board of Commissioners members say they will not agree to meet with Dalton City Council members concerning the service delivery agreement that covers the county unless city officials tell them exactly what portions of the agreement the city wants to renegotiate and explain how the city officials reached a conclusion that city property owners are overtaxed.

But as of Tuesday, city officials were refusing to release that information to county officials or to the media.

On Thursday, the Daily Citizen-News sent City Administrator Jason Parker a request under the Georgia Open Records Act requesting “any reports, including text and email messages among members of the City Council, the city administrator and the chief financial officer, regarding how the city government has determined which services provided by Whitfield County its residents are taxed to support but do not benefit from as well as how it determined how much those services cost city property owners.”

On Tuesday, Parker responded to that request.

“There are no reports, text messages or emails in the city’s records which are responsive to your request,” he wrote in an email. “The city engaged with legal counsel for guidance and investigation of the service delivery strategy negotiation with Whitfield County, and how particular services are funded. All analysis of the current service delivery strategy and related funding, which could be responsive to your request, was conducted by the legal counsel and, as such, these documents and/or communication with the legal counsel are attorney-client information and/or attorney work product, both of which are exempt from disclosure under the open records laws. The investigation and analysis conducted by legal counsel is fully and/or partially exempt from production under the Open Records Act pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 50‐18‐72(a)(1), 50‐18‐72(a)(20)(A), 50‐18‐72(a)(21); 50‐18‐72(a)(41); and 50‐18‐72(a)(42).”

Under state law, cities and counties must negotiate a new service delivery agreement every 10 years, spelling out which services the different governments will provide and how they will be funded. The agreements are aimed at reducing duplication of services. Without such an agreement, the county, the City of Dalton and the other cities in the county become ineligible for state grants and other funding and permits.

The current service delivery agreement between the cities and the county expires on Oct. 31 and covers services ranging from fire protection to operations of the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library to building permits.

Commissioners and the councils of the other cities have voted to recertify the existing agreement.

St Marys City Council voted to place the City Manager on leave and terminate him effective November 6, 2019, according to The Brunswick News.

The Georgia Municipal Association hosted a rural broadband summit in Warner Robins, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

More than 100 elected officials, executives, and state and federal representatives gathered in Warner Robins last week at the Cary W. Martin Conference for the Georgia Municipal Association’s statewide Rural Broadband Summit. The meeting, which was also supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, provided attendees an inside look at several approaches underway in Georgia to address the broadband needs of rural communities.

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., charged city officials and staff attendees to work together and foster partnerships to address broadband issues across the state.

“Broadband is much more than sending emails — it’s everything we do in life, including health care and education,” Scott said. “The solution to broadband access for the people that you represent is going to come at the state and local levels.”

The Glynn County Board of Elections is learning more about the new voting system, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections staff set up the one machine they had received at the board’s Tuesday meeting to demonstrate how it worked.

Sometime before the March 2020 presidential primary election, Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell said, the board will get the rest of the 235 touchscreens and printers and 26 scanners and ballot boxes the state government promised.

Board member Patricia Featherstone wondered if 235 machines would be enough for Glynn County.

As far as he knew, Channell said the board had never used more than 200 machines in a single election.

Channel said he could foresee two problems arising from the new machines: They take up a lot of space, and they use more power outlets that the old models.

Because the machines come in two separate parts — the printer and touchscreen — the board will need twice as many power outlets. Because they don’t come with stands of their own, the board will also need to get ahold of a lot more tables than it currently has.

The Twelfth District Georgia Republican Party will host a fish fry Thursday, according to The Brunswick News.

Osal Evans and other citizens will host the annual 12th Congressional District Fish Fry, Thursday evening, Oct. 10, at the Pathway Center, which is off U.S. Highway 301 about three miles south of Sylvania.

The “meet and greet” starts at 5 p.m., followed by the meal at 6 p.m. Although not an official GOP event, the fish fry draws Republican elected officials and candidates but is not a fundraiser. U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Georgia 12th District; Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger; and area members of the General Assembly, including Sen. Jack Hill, Sen. Jesse Stone, Majority Leader Rep. Jon Burns and Rep. Jan Tankersley are on the guest list, as are officials, party and nonpartisan, from several counties and cities.

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