Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 16, 2020


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 16, 2020

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England, for the New World on September 16, 1620. Thirty-five of 102 passengers were members of the English Separatist Church seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. Originally aiming to reach Virginia, Mayflower eventually landed at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A single pistol shot on September 16, 1920 opened former Cherokee land in Oklahoma to white settlers in a “land run” to claim property.

The original stimulus act was announced to bring $70 million in federal money to Georgia to build roads and public buildings on September 16, 1933.

On September 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Service and Training Act requiring males 26-35 years of age to register for the draft. On the same day, Sam Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and would go on to hold the post for 17 years total, the longest tenure of any Speaker.

R.E.M. and Gregg Allman were among the inductees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 16, 2006.

GPB has an article on the 1957 Les Paul Goldtop guitar used by Duane Allman on the first two Allman Brothers records and on “Layla” by Derek and the Dominoes. That guitar recently sold for $1.25 million dollars.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Donald Trump, Jr. will appear tonight at a rally in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Savannah Convention Center on Hutchinson Island.

Attendance is limited and would-be attendees are required to pre-register for the rally at

According to a press release regarding the Savannah appearance, Trump Jr. “will speak directly with the American people, spreading President Donald J. Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda.”

The safety and security of attendees is a concern to Savannah Mayor Van Johnson. Speaking during his weekly press conference Tuesday, Johnson acknowledged that the city’s municipal ordinances do not apply to events within the Savannah Convention Center, while reiterating that any participants at Trump Jr.’s rally will be required to abide by Savannah’s face-mask mandate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The Convention Center is a state-owned facility, and so they follow state rules. When they leave the Convention Center, they follow the City of Savannah rules,” Johnson said. “We can’t control what happens in the state facility, but you better believe I’ll have some folks over on the city-owned Hutchinson Island to ensure that our mask mandates are being followed.”

Eric Trump and Governor Brian Kemp campaigned in Forsyth County, according to the Forsyth County News.

A rally on Tuesday for President Donald Trump that was attended by Gov. Brian Kemp, Eric Trump and a number of other speakers was part campaign stop and part worship service.

On Tuesday, Evangelicals for Trump hosted a campaign event at the Reid Barn on Majors Road, where along with Kemp and Eric Trump, speakers included Dr. Alveda King, musician Jonathan Cain and pastors Paula White, Jentezen Franklin, Todd Lamphere and Tony Suarez.

Eric Trump said the upcoming election would have a big impact for decades to come, particularly for the future of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Make no mistake, the media doesn’t like to talk about this, but there could be four Supreme Court justices, another four years, and I’ll get hate for saying that, but there could be three or four Supreme Court justices [retire and be replaced,]” he said. “You could have a 7-2 [conservative] Supreme Court in this country, and if you like religious liberty, if you like freedom of speech and you like the Second Amendment and you like the traditional values of this country, guess what? You want a 7-2 Supreme Court…”

Kemp, who was not advertised to attend the event, touched on some of the accomplishments in the state since his election in 2018, including foster care and adoption reform, battling human trafficking and the passage of House Bill 481, the controversial bill that prohibits abortions around six weeks. A federal judge struck down the bill this past July.

“I will tell you that along the way, we have been very fortunate to have the strong support of President Trump and his entire family on these type of issues,” Kemp said, “because, you see, I believe President Donald J. Trump is the most pro-life president that I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday issued Executive Order, the latest “Providing Guidance” order relating to the pandemic.

From WGXA:

The new executive order takes effect on September 16 at 12:00 AM and runs through September 30 at 11:59 PM.

Under Executive Order 09.15.20, there are no changes to the mandatory restrictions in place for the operation of businesses, including food establishments, bars, cinemas, bowling alleys, salons, barbers, cosmetologists, amusement parks, live performance and event venues, childcare facilities, etc. The local option for requiring face coverings, subject to specific criteria, also still remains in place.

Shelter in Place provisions are remaining in effect for people who live in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile. The order also still extends the large gathering ban of 50 or more people unless social distancing is maintained.

From the AJC:

Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest coronavirus order, issued late Tuesday, sets up a framework to allow visitors to return to long-term care facilities.

The order will provide some comfort to loved ones who have complained about the inability to see family members in the facilities during the pandemic, but comes as Georgia still faces higher rates of infection and deaths among the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

The governor’s 51-page order says a shelter-in-place order would be in effect for residents of the facilities, and sets up a three-phase system for in-person visits based on the rate of coronavirus testing, the number of cases in and other factors such as community spread.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Under the Phase I restrictions, visitation to an elderly-care facility will not be allowed in most instances. Non-medically necessary trips should be avoided, while screening of residents and staff will be conducted three times daily under both phases 1 and 2.

Visitation will be allowed under phases 2 and 3, with outside visits preferred. Limited non-medically necessary trips also will be permitted under the second and third phases. Screening of residents and staff will only be required once a day under Phase 3.

The elderly-care facilities order will remain in effect until the conclusion of the public health state of emergency Kemp declared in Georgia back in mid-March.

State Rep. Pam Stephenson (D-Lithonia) has resigned her office, according to the AJC.

State Rep. Pam Stephenson of Lithonia submitted her resignation last Thursday, Kemp spokesman Candice Broce said. Stephenson could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Kemp accepted her resignation, effective Sept. 4.

It is unclear if Stephenson has also withdrawn her candidacy for the November election. If she has, Kemp will have to call for a special primary election to fill Stephenson’s seat in the next term. She won a June primary and no Republican filed to run in November.

13WMAZ spoke to the candidates for Houston County Commission District 5.

Forsyth County is preparing for November’s elections, including a large number of mail-in ballots, according to the Forsyth County News.

Mandi Smith, director of Forsyth County Voter Registration and Elections, said that the county has been able to handle and process a growing number of mail-in ballots that the elections office first saw during the primary elections earlier this year.

Smith said that the Forsyth County elections office issued more than 38,000 absentee ballots for the primary in June, and more than 28,000 ballots were returned by mail.

As of now, she said they have already issued more than 18,000 absentee ballots in the county for the general election in November — an already significant increase from the usual 4,000-8,000 total absentee ballots.

“That number is definitely going to grow,” Smith said.

“My recommendation would be, if you choose to vote by mail, to go ahead and put your request in as early as possible,” Smith said. “That way, we can go ahead and get that processed and get that ballot to you.”

Former State Senator Don Balfour (R-Rules Committee) no longer faces campaign finance disclosure charges after they were dropped by the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, according to the AJC.

Former longtime Georgia Senate leader Don Balfour left office in 2015 with about $630,000 in his campaign bank account, but he stopped filing the mandatory annual disclosure reports detailing what he did with the money.

Because of what he called a “loophole” in state ethics laws, David Emadi, executive secretary of the commission, said the panel couldn’t take legal action against Balfour unless it did so within a year of him not filing the mandatory report.

By the time the state started investigating, it was too late. By law, Balfour’s campaign didn’t have to maintain bank records more than three years after he left office.

Emadi said he pushed for legislation this year to fix the loophole — the statute of limitations is three years for other alleged ethics violations by lawmakers — but it never made it through the General Assembly.

Georgia food banks are seeing heavy demand related to the pandemic, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

Overall, the Georgia Food Bank Association has seen “an unrelenting increase” in demand for meal services at several food banks in the state of more than 40% compared to last year, said the association’s executive director, Danah Craft.

“We’ve seen the need for food assistance increase dramatically,” said Kathy McCollum, executive director of the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank, which serves 24 counties around Macon and saw a 50% increase in demand for meal services.

Rawlings and others stressed Tuesday many Georgians still face huge financial and food-security challenges even as jobs tick back up and schools return for classes.

“I think we have a long way to go before we get back to a situation where our economy is booming and there are plenty of jobs,” Rawlings said. “I think food insecurity due to the coronavirus pandemic … is going to be with us for some time to come.”

The University of Georgia won’t allow tailgating at football games, but some level of near-vehicle gathering will be allowed, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

There is wiggle room for ticketed fans that could total around 21,000.

Georgia says that it realizes fans travel a long way for the games and they will be permitted to “gather near their vehicle with family members or those with whom they traveled and plan to sit with in the stadium. Please remember to maintain 6-feet social distancing and to wear masks when around others who are not part of your group.”

Fans won’t be permitted to set up tents, tables and grills, senior deputy athletic director Josh Brooks said.

Georgia says parking lots on campus will open three hours before kickoff and attendants will require all occupants in the vehicle to have tickets for the game.

UGA also suspended a fraternity for partying too hard failing to maintain social distancing, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The fraternity was “interim suspended” Sunday pending completion of a university investigation for conduct violations “related to a gathering in which social distancing and public health guidelines were not followed and alcohol and other drugs were allegedly present,” according to a UGA announcement.

The Muscogee County School District has canceled after-school activities today due to the expected arrival of Hurricane Sally, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Barrow County public schools will resume in-person classes Monday, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit  Chief Judge Kathleen Gosselin received the inaugural Judge Stephen S. Goss Mental Health Award from the Council of Accountability Court Judges of Georgia, according to AccessWDUN.

Gosselin is recognized for starting the first Mental Health Court in the Northeastern Judicial Circuit. She also helped to establish the Treatment Services program, which has grown to oversee nine accountability courts, a drug lab and Substance Abuse Services.

“Judge Gosselin has impacted hundreds of lives throughout her career,” said Treatment Services Director Jessi Emmett. “Her guidance, wisdom, and kind spirit are inspiring.”

The award was created by the CACJ to honor the memory of former Doughtery County and Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Stephen S. Goss. Goss passed away in 2019 after many years of service to treatment courts statewide.

The Northeastern Judicial Circuit serves Hall and Dawson Counties.

The City of Valdosta has opened a program to provide utility assistance, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

It will provide one-time utility assistance to eligible City of Valdosta households that are low to moderate income or have suffered loss of income related to the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials said in a statement.

“These funds will assist with utility payments to either the City of Valdosta, Georgia Power or Colquitt Electric Collaborative for residential past due balances due to COVID-19,” city officials said. “The relief program will provide grant payments of up to $350 directly to utility providers.”

The temporary residential utility grant assistance program is open to city residents only and available on a first-come first-qualified basis for 1,107 applicants, city officials said.

The City of Rincon created a project list for its share of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST) on the November ballot, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Paving, drainage improvements and a second entrance to the Picket Fences subdivision are among the projects the City of Rincon will pay for if voters in Effingham County approve a penny-per-dollar sales tax on Nov. 3.

The city has come up with a list of projects that would total $7.8 million – the amount it would collect if voters approve a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or T-SPLOST.

Countywide, the tax would raise an estimated $45 million over five years. The county and the cities of Rincon, Springfield and Guyton each have come up with lists of projects that would be paid for by the tax.

Oakwood City Council passed a millage rate that stays flat but generates more revenue, and budget adjustments, according to AccessWDUN.

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