Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 7, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 7, 2019

Georgia Governor Joseph Brown addressed the Georgia legislature calling on them to consider Georgia’s future on November 7, 1860, the day after Abraham Lincoln’s election as President.

Jeanette Rankin was elected to Congress, the first female Member, on November 7, 1916 from Montana. After leaving Congress, Rankin moved to Watkinsville, Georgia in 1925. The Jeanette Rankin Scholarship Foundation, based in Athens, Georgia provides college scholarships and support for low-income women 35 and older.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to a record fourth term on November 7, 1944.

Democrat Sam Nunn was reelected to the United States Senate on November 7, 1978.

On November 7, 1989, David Dinkins was elected the first African-American Mayor of New York and Douglas Wilder was elected the first African-American Governor of Virginia.

On November 7, 2006, Georgia reelected its first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue, and elected its first GOP Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.

The Athens-Clarke Commission approved a plan to change the REM bridge trestle, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The Athens-Clarke Commission approved on Tuesday night preliminary plans for a bridge replacing the famous R.E.M. rail trestle in Dudley Park.

The new design keeps some of the look of the iconic image famous among rock fans worldwide as the back cover art for Athens band R.E.M.’s first album, “Murmur.”

The wooden beam support structure of the abandoned railroad trestle would be kept in the tallest, middle part of the new 500-foot span, but ends would be replaced with steel members in an arcing support structure.

The bridge would connect the first part of the pedestrian-cycling Firefly Trail, planned to extend from downtown Athens on Broad Street out to Winterville on the abandoned rail bed that the R.E.M. trestle was once part of, crossing high over Trail Creek, the greenway path that goes through Dudley Park there and Poplar Street.

The trestle is a defining image of Athens, said District 3 Commissioner Melissa Link, likening it to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Trump will be in Atlanta tomorrow. From WSB-TV:

Georgia Democratic Party Chair State Sen. Nikema Williams believes any such attempt will fail because of the president’s unpopularity within the black community.

“94 percent of Black Georgians voted Democratic, and I see that number only continuing to increase. As for that 6 percent, they’re a bit confused, don’t understand what Donald Trump and his Republican Party are doing to do to affect the black community,” Williams said.

But the executive director of Trump’s National Diversity Coalition disagrees.

Bruce Levell believes Trump can make inroads into the black community by pushing economic initiatives and talking about the low unemployment numbers.

“It’s just restoring back who we are as Americans and by the way, our African-American culture. We’re going to resurrect that generational wealth in small business also,” he told Elliot.

In April, Channel 2 Action News had the chance to talk one-on-one with Trump about Georgia’s role in the upcoming election. He felt it was solidly in his corner.

“I think it’s in play only for us in the upcoming election, to be honest with you. I know David Perdue is going to be running and I’m running, and we’re going to do very well,” Trump said.

Governor Brian Kemp announced that Site Selection magazine selected Georgia as the top business environment again. From a press release:

Augusta, GA – Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced that Georgia’s business climate has been named No. 1 in the nation by Site Selection Magazine, an internationally circulated business publication covering corporate real estate and economic development, for the seventh year in a row. Georgia is the only state that has received the distinction seven consecutive times in the history of Site Selection’s rankings. Governor Kemp made the historic announcement at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, Georgia.

“I am incredibly proud that Georgia has received the No. 1 ranking from Site Selection for the seventh year in a row,” said Governor Kemp. “From day one of my administration, we have been laser-focused on creating opportunities for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state. Our efforts to cut burdensome regulations, continue developing a world-class workforce, and market all regions of the Peach State through the formation of a Rural Strike Team have not gone unnoticed, and this announcement affirms that.”

“The nation’s leading site consultants see opportunity for growth across our state. Our top-ranked workforce development initiatives – combined with a conservative, pro-business policy approach, world-class higher education system, and a logistics network that puts the global economy within arm’s reach – make Georgia a top competitor for investment from businesses large and small – across the country and around the world. I am proud of the work that we have done, but it does not stop here. We will continue raising the bar and working with our economic development partners in the public and private sectors to ensure that Georgia stays the best place in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.”

Site Selection releases its Top State Business Climate rankings each November. The rankings are 50 percent based on objective criteria and 50 percent on the input received from a survey of independent site location experts who are asked to rank and explain their choice.

“Our readers are keenly interested in our annual state business climate ranking, because they seek locations with the greatest prospects for success,” said Mark Arend, editor-in-chief of Site Selection. “Georgia’s seventh consecutive Top State Business Climate win reminds them that a Georgia location will contribute to their productivity and profitability long term.”

Georgia has long received recognition from leading companies and site consultants for its attractive business climate. The state’s workforce training program, Georgia Quick Start, is the top-ranked program in the United States. Logistics hubs like the Port of Savannah and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport connect businesses to their consumers far and wide, and the state’s pro-business policies make Georgia a competitive option for companies looking to locate or expand. In Fiscal Year 2019 alone, the Georgia Department of Economic Development supported the creation of nearly 29,000 new jobs through the location of 332 projects, 74 percent of which were located outside of metro Atlanta.

“We are thrilled that Georgia’s business climate has once again been named No. 1 by Site Selection,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Under Governor Kemp’s leadership, our partnership approach to economic development has enabled us to maintain a competitive edge in attracting new business and expanding our existing industries.”

“Our world-class team at the Georgia Department of Economic Development is proud to work with our economic development partners throughout the state to make record-breaking achievements like this possible. We look forward to joining with Governor Kemp to continue spreading hope and creating opportunities for all Georgians in the years to come.”

Site Selection Magazine joins Area Development Magazine in naming Georgia the top state for business for 2019 – the seventh and sixth straight year, respectively, that both publications have awarded Georgia the ranking.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

Georgia may have the best business climate but it is the environment inside Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta that excites Tom Barnes of Parson Corporation and other cyber and defense contractors.

“This ranking is not given, it is earned,” Kemp said. “Site Selection magazine highlighted our world class workforce, infrastructure and logistics hubs. They acknowledge our low cost of doing business and praise leaders on the state, regional and local level who are focused on advancing policies to grow jobs and economic opportunities.”

Kemp last month announced Parsons would be expanding its Augusta operations by 80 positions, in addition to the 20 or so already on the ground, and Wednesday he got to meet at the center with Parsons and a number of the other entities there, such as Augusta University and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Cyber Crime Center.

“We are thrilled that a leading cybersecurity company like Parsons has decided to invest and grow right here in Augusta,” Kemp said. “Their expansion showcases the Cyber Center’s tremendous impact on the CSRA, the state and beyond. These additional high quality jobs will only add to Georgia’s resume as a national leader in the cyber industry and a key national security asset.”

What Parsons and others find so attractive is that unique mix of industry, academia and government all interacting in one place, with the ability of talented people to go from one to the other within the center, said Barnes, director of strategic cyber operations, plans and programming.

Georgia is also among the leaders in farm bankruptcies, according to the AJC.

The number of Georgia farm bankruptcies has surged in recent months to among the highest in the nation, as growers grappled with poor prices, burdensome tariffs and lingering effects from brutal weather.

But the level is still lower than it was in some other recent years.

Though millions of dollars in assistance have begun to roll out, many farmers are still waiting for promised federal aid for natural disasters such as Hurricane Michael. It’s unlikely that the payouts will make up for all the losses that have grown over the years, bankruptcy attorneys said.

Georgia logged 37 new Chapter 12 filings in the latest 12-month period ending Sept. 30, according to a report last week from the U.S. Courts. That’s up from 25 for the same period a year earlier. But it’s down from 43 and 41 in the periods for 2017 and 2016, respectively. Chapter 12 is set aside largely for family farmers. Both Georgia’s latest 12-month total number of cases and its growth compared to the same period a year ago are among the highest in the nation, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The state’s biggest increase — 14 additional filings — came in the latest reporting period of July, August and September, as some farmers waited for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to distribute a portion of new disaster aid. The assistance had been passed by Congress and signed by the president in early May, following months of rancor.

Payments have been made on about 18% of Georgia applications, which have now risen to more than 2,300, according to the department. The program is designed to cover between 70 and 95% of the expected value of certain kinds of agriculture losses, after reducing for things such as insurance payouts and lowered expenses.

Governor Kemp also presented Burke County Deputy Sheriff Eric Madison with an award, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Gov. Brian Kemp presented the Medal of Valor to Deputy Eric Madison at the courthouse in Waynesboro, Ga. It’s the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a public safety officer nationally.

Kemp said Madison was one of the “real heroes” of the community after encountering an armed suspect who had abducted a woman Aug. 10.

“Deputy Eric Madison did not count the costs or weigh his options when he showed up on the scene that day,” Kemp said. “He vowed many years ago, as you all know, to serve and protect. … He deserves all the praise and accolades that we can give him even though he doesn’t want them.”

“I’m humbled to be with the men and women of such high character that sacrifice life and limb, who devote their lives by serving others and who are willing to risk it all in the name of public safety every single day,” said Kemp, who was named an honorary deputy.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel will speak at Dalton State College, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“Ethics and Textiles” is a topic that will be explored further when Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charles “Charlie” Bethel speaks at Dalton State College on Tuesday at 4 p.m. as part of the University System of Georgia’s Ethics Awareness Week. The presentation will be in Gignilliat Memorial Hall in the BizHub, room 101. It is free and open to the public.

Bethel’s presentation focuses on everyday interactions with textiles in relation to acquiring an effective ethical system in the community and draws from his own experiences in his career in business, law and politics. He said creating a consistent committed system that embodies integrity is crucial to a community. Moreover, maintaining the ethical component of a community is paramount.

Bethel served on the Georgia Court of Appeals before then-Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to the position of Supreme Court justice of Georgia in September 2018. Bethel, a graduate of Dalton High School, practiced law in Dalton after earning a bachelor’s degree in business and obtaining his law degree from the University of Georgia.

The Dalton Daily Citizen-News looks at how the new state voting system performed in a limited rollout.

Six counties tried their hands at the touchscreen machines that generate a printed ballot — the low-turnout elections pilot a small sampling, compared to what’s coming next year. The Secretary of State’s office plans to implement the new system in all 159 counties by the March 24 presidential primary.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spent time on Tuesday at the Paulding County Courthouse, one of the locations testing the new system.

Raffensperger said the rural counties piloting the system were picked in specific geographic locations — on the borders of Tennessee and Florida and at points in-between — to test for “stress points” in the system.

“We’re rolling through it, minor stuff happens time to time but that’s why you do pilots so they don’t happen on a big election day,” he said.

Raffensperger said there are 11,000 news machines waiting to be rolled out for the presidential primary in March. The elections office is “ahead of schedule.”

The system requires hundreds of thousands of paper ballots. Benefits of the paper printouts, he said, outweighs the electronic systems that “aged out” and were not kept updated.

“There’s going to be a whole lot more paper, you’re going to need the county commissioners, yes you’re going to need some large warehouses,” Raffensperger said, “but if you look at right now, over 7% of all people in America are voting with a paper ballot system of some sort. I think by 2020, 2024 it will probably be close to 100%.”

“We understand 50% of the voters will be happy and 50% of the voters will be sad,” Raffensperger said. “Because we understand we live in polarized times. But we want 100% of voters to have the confidence that their vote was accurately counted.”

From the Georgia Recorder:

Voters in Decatur County ran into a technical glitch Tuesday morning at its three precincts, which caused a 45-minute delay, but Georgia’s new ballot-marking machines otherwise drew positive reviews in election day pilot testing.

The polls in Decatur County stayed open later to accommodate the dozen or so people who didn’t wait out the repair, said Carol Heard, the chief elections official for the county’s Board of Elections and Voter Registration.

Joe Reece was among a handful of voters to cast his ballot around noon at the Watson Government Complex in Paulding County, another one of the six Georgia counties piloting the new voting machines. His experience with the Dominion Voting Systems device went smoothly, until he accidentally walked out of the precinct with his ballot still in hand. Reece got a few steps out the front door before a pair of poll workers ushered him back inside to scan the ballot.

Precincts should boost the number of poll workers on site for larger elections to keep an eye out for distracted mistakes like he made, Reece said. A more likely problem would be if the printers break down.

“You’ve added another possible glitch,” Reece said outside the government complex Tuesday before news broke of the Decatur County problems. “But as long as the printers work, there’s not much of a difference.”

From WABE:

At first glance, the actual voting process appeared to run smoothly along with the ballot scanning process. But there were a few snags with the poll pad, which is the way voters check in with the new system.

Some counties, like Decatur, kept their polls open for an extra hour. Decatur County election official Carol Heard told WABE about a dozen or so voters were affected by the problem. She said keeping the polls open was out of an abundance of caution to make sure those voters had a chance to come back and vote if they chose to.

In Paulding County, elections supervisor Deidre Holden said they were able to offer voters paper ballots to fill out by hand while they waited for the computer glitch to be fixed.

She said voters liked the new system, but it wasn’t without an adjustment period.

“There are just some pieces, some extra pieces that are in there that hopefully by March they’ll have everybody ready to go in there and know what the steps are to making their voting experience successful,” said Holden.

From WTVC:

Sam Teasley with the Georgia Secretary of States office says the touchscreen element will feel similar, but now an added step for security will be taken.

“The biggest difference is at the end of that process, you haven’t actually voted until you reviewed your piece of paper which is your ballot, and put it into the scanners.”

It’s an addition Teasley says should give voters a peace of mind, and confidence that their vote will be recorded accurately.

For the most part, the voting process has gone smoothly thus far according to Teasley, who has been in Catoosa County monitoring polls on Tuesday. One voter tells us there could be a negative side to this new system.

“The only thing is it seems like it’ll be slow, so I think everyone will want to think about doing early voting.”

“The whole reason you do a pilot is to make sure what you see what you think you have is what you have and if there are any kinks that need to be worked out then we can figure them out by March 24th.”

A federal lawsuit seeks changes in how challenged absentee ballots are handled, according to the AJC.

A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday asked a judge to require quick notification to Georgia voters when their absentee ballots are rejected, giving them time to correct problems and have their votes counted.

The lawsuit, filed by the Democratic Party, said voters often aren’t told about mismatched or missing signatures on their absentee ballots until it’s too late.

“Every Georgian should have the right to cast their vote and make sure it counts,” said Nikema Williams, chairwoman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Our elections need clear and fair standards to ensure that no one is disenfranchised and that no community is unfairly targeted.”

After the gators lost to the Bulldogs, the state of Florida will take a second chance at beating Georgia, this time in federal court. From AccessWDUN:

Lawyers for Florida will be back in federal court Thursday, trying to get a cap on Georgia’s water use from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. An integral part of the basin is North Georgia’s Lake Lanier. The river system flows from Georgia through the Florida Panhandle.

Florida has long contended that Georgia’s use of the water in the basin has ruined its oyster industry.

Georgia, on the other hand, has argued in court over the last several years that the state has used the water responsibly for the booming metro Atlanta area and for agriculture in the south end of the state.

“Georgia makes the argument that they have been doing their part,” said Chris Manganiello, water policy director for the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in Georgia, in a recent interview with USA Today. “I don’t expect Georgia to say anything different or all that earth-shattering (at the upcoming hearing).”

State House District 152 will see a special runoff election, according to WALB.

Two powerhouses from Lee and Worth counties will face off for the House of Representatives District 152 seat.

Tuesday night’s election determined that Bill Yearta and Jim Quinn will head to a runoff next month.

“I’m going to be working the next four weeks, trying to get as many people to come back as I can. I’m gonna knock on twice as many doors and make twice as many phone calls. People are going to get tired of me again,” said Quinn.

“We’re gonna work real hard to get our message out. It’s another great opportunity to get with the hard-working folks from Lee, Worth and Sumter counties,” said Yearta.

From the Albany Herald:

In the four-candidate field of hopefuls who qualified for the special election to fill the unexpired term of Ed Rynders, Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn finished with 3,861 votes, or 41.58% in the Tuesday election, while former Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta had 3,182 votes – 34.27% of the 9,286 ballots cast in the race.

The winner in the runoff election will serve the remaining year of Rynders’ term. Rynders announced plans earlier this year to step down from the seat he’s held for the past 17 years after moving with his wife to St. Simons Island.

“We’ve got more work to do,” said Yearta, who had to step down as mayor of Sylvester when he qualified to run for another office. “It’s just about getting our message out and our vision for the district. It’s just going to be an opportunity to see folks and try to let them know I’m the best person for the district and will be a strong voice for the people of District 152.”

“We get to do it all over again,” Quinn said of the four weeks of campaigning ahead. “It’s a chance to knock on more doors, see more people, make more phone calls. I like meeting people. I like talking to people.”

Albany will have runoff elections for Mayor and City Council, according to the Albany Herald.

Incumbent Mayor Dorothy Hubbard received the most votes in Tuesday’s election, finishing with 3,501, or 30.25%. Second-place finisher Kermit “Bo” Dorough received 3,206 votes, or 27.7%, of the 11,572 ballots cast.

“I am really delighted to be in the runoff,” Hubbard said on Wednesday. “We get to get out running (again). We’ll be out there campaigning as we have in the past.

“I am very disappointed that I polled less than 10% in south and east Albany,” Dorough said after election results were reported. “But what this election showed is that 70% of the people in Albany who went to the polls voted against the incumbent. The only question now is will the people who claim they want change seize the opportunity to make that change while they have this chance?

“I’m going to hit the bricks, talk to those voters. And I will debate Ms. Hubbard any time or anywhere.”

The other runoff election will be for the Ward VI City Commission seat. Incumbent Tommie Postell chose not to seek another term.

In that race Demetrius Young came out on top on election night with 705 votes, or 44.71%. John Hawthorne finished just behind with 692 votes – 43.88% – to force the runoff election between the two. Leroy Smith received 177 votes, or 11.22%.

Johns Creek will host three runoff elections, according to Northfulton.com.

Councilman Chris Coughlin, the only incumbent in the race, came the closest to an all-out win, taking 47.2 percent of the votes in the Post 4 race. In the runoff, he will face former Johns Creek Community Association President Marybeth Cooper, who earned 19.1 percent of the vote.

For Post 2, the seat that will be vacated by Councilman Jay Lin at the end of the year, retired Police Major Brian Weaver received the most votes, 45.6 percent. In the runoff, he will face Dilip Tunki, who earned 30.3 percent of the vote.

For Post 6, the seat being vacated by Councilman Steve Broadbent, the race was closer. Erin Elwood was the highest vote-earner, with 38.1 percent of the final tally. The other runoff candidate will be Issure Yang, who took 31.9 percent, beating out Judy LeFave, who earned 29.3 percent.

Roswell City Council District Three will have a December runoff, according to the Rome News Tribune.

City council candidates for post 3 could face a runoff election this December. Candidate Christine Hall ended with 34.52% of votes, and Lisa Holland with 31.84% of votes. Keith Geoke had 18.06% of votes and Kay Howell had 15.58% of votes.

Hall County voters renewed the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, according to the Gainesville Times.

A sales tax used to fund capital projects for the county and its cities, first approved in Hall County in 1985, was renewed by voters in a referendum Tuesday.

The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VIII is projected to bring in about $217 million between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2026. It is a 1% sales tax, or a penny on the dollar, and the funds will be divided between the county and its cities. The money can only be used for capital projects, not for funding operations. Hall County and its cities have previously discussed how they would spend the money.

SPLOST law was enacted statewide in 1985, and county voters approved Hall’s first SPLOST that year. Since then, it has been renewed seven times, with SPLOST VIII getting approval Tuesday. The tax has paid for about has paid for about $671 million in county and city projects since 1985.

Three Gwinnett municipalities will have runoff elections, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Norcross, Snellville and Braselton will each hold runoff elections Dec. 3 to decide the outcome of contested City County races.

In Norcross, Tyler Hannell and Bruce Gaynor will square off for the seat being vacated by Councilman Dan Watch.

Over in Snellville, Solange Destang and Brittany Marmol will face off in the open City Council Post 2 race.

Meanwhile, Braselton Councilwoman Becky Richardson is heading to a runoff against Richard Mayberry in that city’s Council district 1 race.

Bainbridge residents approved a “brunch bill“ referendum, according to The Post Searchlight.

The special election referendum asked if the governing authority of the City of Bainbridge should be authorized to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays in restaurants between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and if it should be authorized to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays to be made at stores between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Roughly 63 percent of voters voted “Yes” to sale of alcohol in restaurants and roughly 62 percent of voters said “Yes” to package sales of alcohol in stores.

Darien Mayor Hugh “Bubba” Hodge was reelected and will serve a third term, according to The Brunswick News.

Mayor Hugh “Bubba” Hodge defeated District 2 City Councilman Griffin Lotson 270-198 to win a third straight term as mayor, according to unofficial results from the county Board of Elections. In the race for the District 2 City Council seat that Lotson vacated, Morris Butler’s 102 votes were enough to avoid a runoff in a three-candidate race. With Katie Daniels garnering 56 votes and William Johnson getting 43, Butler had nearly 51 percent of the total in the race.

Newton County Commission Chair Marcello Banes announced he will run for reelection next year, according to the Covington News.

“It has been a sincere honor to work diligently for the citizens of Newton County. I ran my initial campaign for Chairman under the platform ‘Believe, Begin, Become a Better Newton County.’ Upon my election, the citizens of Newton County bestowed upon me their faith that I would be a man of my word and work diligently and selflessly toward a better Newton County,” he said.

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