Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 22, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 22, 2021

On September 22, 1862, Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated,

“. . . on the first day of January [1863] . . . all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”


President Rutherford B. Hayes visited Atlanta on September 22, 1877. Click here to read the text of his speech in Atlanta.

White vigilantes seeking to assault African-Americans after reports of four white women being assaulted led to the Atlanta Race Riots on September 22-24, 1906, which would claim the lives of at least 25 African-Americans and one white person.

On September 22, 1918, the City of Atlanta gasoline administator prohibited non-emergency Sunday driving to conserve fuel for the war effort.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Clayton County voters elected a new District 8 Board of Education member and sent two candidates to a runoff for County Commission District 1, according to the AJC.

Joy Tellis Cooper appears to have prevailed as the next District 8 member of the south metro Atlanta community’s school board.

In unofficial results of Tuesday’s special election for District 1 County Commission, Alieka Anderson and Alaina Reaves received the largest share of votes. However, neither received the more than 50% of the vote required to avoid a runoff.

The runoff is set for Oct. 19.

The Georgia Supreme Court dismissed a complaint in a close state House race, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

In a unanimous ruling, the justices upheld a lower court’s decision rejecting a challenge to election results showing Roberts, D-Atlanta, defeated incumbent Rep. Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs, by 377 votes in Fulton County’s House District 52.

After the election results were certified, Sandy Springs resident Warren Schmitz filed a petition in Fulton County Superior Court claiming a variety of irregularities.

“[W]e have long held that it is the responsibility of the person bringing an election contest to ensure that the proceedings move in an expeditious fashion, including by ensuring that all defendants and other interested individuals are given proper notice of the election contest,” Justice Charlie Bethel wrote in Tuesday’s opinion.

“Schmitz did not exercise diligence in seeing that she was served despite receiving notice of defects in service at least as early as the date of Robert’s intervention in the case and the filing of … a motion to dismiss raising the issue of insufficient service,” Bethel wrote.

Roberts defeated Silcox 17,069 to 16,692, according to the certified results.

From the AJC:

Roberts, an Atlanta attorney, said she was relieved the case was settled and that she was ready to represent her district “without a cloud” over her head.

“It was dismissed because of service, and I think that is telling in and of itself because they knew where to find me for 40 days early this year,” she said, referring to being at the state Capitol during the legislative session. “And they didn’t submit a single shred of actual evidence, so I think the way it was dismissed is just further evidence that it was just perpetuating the ‘big lie’ and trying to disrupt our electoral process.”

[Attorney Ray] Smith said he and his client are disappointed that the court chose to completely dismiss the case, versus ruling that Roberts did not have to be part of the proceedings and allow the suit to continue.

“This unfortunately continues the pattern of appellate courts in the state and other places of allowing cases to be dismissed summarily and not allowing the election contest to be decided on its merits,” Smith said.

The State Election Board found no wrongdoing by Herschel Walker’s wife, who was accuesed of wrongfuly voting in Georgia while residing elsewhere, according to the Georgia Recorder.

U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker is expected to be a major attraction Saturday with his recent ringing endorsement from former President Donald Trump as the two attend a “Save America” rally at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry.

On Tuesday, the former University of Georgia football star scored a victory at the State Election Board when it dismissed a complaint alleging that his wife, Julie Blanchard, had illegally voted while living in Texas.

The decision means Walker has a strong response if asked about the propriety of his wife’s Georgia vote, especially in light of the former running back’s claims that out-of-state votes helped cost Trump Georgia’s 2020 election.

Frances Watson, the chief investigator in the Georgia secretary of state’s office, recommended that state board members close the inquiry into Blanchard’s voting in the Nov. 3 general election and requesting an absentee ballot for the January runoff featuring a pair of Senate races.

Blanchard owns a Fulton County home, operates a business in Georgia, pays state income tax and has a vehicle registered here, Watson noted shortly before the 4-0 board vote.

“The investigation revealed that Julie Blanchard states she considers her residence to be in Georgia,” Watson said. “She states that her husband owns a home in Texas so they do spend some time there.”

Savannah will ease restrictions on event permitting as COVID numbers decline, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Easing up slightly on Savannah’s COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, Mayor Van Johnson gave the greenlight to certain permitted outdoor events starting next month. The move comes nearly a month after the city pulled permits for events through the end of September.

Beginning Oct. 1, outdoor events with 500 people or fewer can take place. The events must have an appropriate COVID-19 protocol plan approved in advance by the office of special events, film and tourism.

Since Aug. 25, the seven-day rolling average, community transmission index and area hospitalizations have all declined.

The rolling average hit 306 on Aug. 25 and on Monday it was down to 113.7; also on Monday the transmission index, which reflects the number of newly confirmed cases in the last 14 days per 100,000 residents, was down to 687 compared to 1,353 on Aug. 25. The rate was 468 on Aug. 2.

From The Brunswick News:

“Current COVID hospitalizations are generally decreasing throughout the state but remain very high,” [Coastal Health District Risk Communicator Ginger] Heidel said. “The number of COVID-positive inpatients in hospitals in Glynn, Camden and Chatham have dropped in recent days, but in Liberty County the numbers are still at near peak levels.”

The other four counties in the Coastal Health District are McIntosh, Liberty, Long and Effingham.

“And even though numbers are dropping from this current surge, they’re still at levels close to the last peak we experienced in January after the holidays,” Heidel said. “In other words, the decrease is encouraging, but our hospitals are still stressed with a high number of COVID patients.”

“About 90% of our region’s ICU beds are in use,” she said.

From the Statesboro Herald:

“It certainly is a positive sign to see the number of cases decline,” said Ted Wynn, director of the Bulloch Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency. “But the recent high number of deaths again reminds us of the sad and tragic toll the pandemic has taken on us. If you haven’t gotten a vaccine, please think again and talk to your doctor or someone you trust. It might save your life and maybe somebody else’s.”

Bulloch County continues to have one of the lowest vaccine rates in the state with only 36% of residents fully vaccinated, compared to 46% for Georgia. Vaccines are free and are available at local pharmacies, doctors’ offices and the Public Health Department.

Using federal COVID relief money, the City Council voted to fund 300 $50 gift cards that would be given to anyone receiving a shot Saturday. Layne Phillips, public information officer for the city said 87 people were vaccinated on Saturday and all received a gift card. In an email, Phillips said the city is planning to host an additional clinic at City Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We are very pleased with the turnout on Saturday,” said Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar. “We’ve been able to vaccinate 155 people so far through the city-sponsored vaccine clinics, and we hope to host more in the future. Getting our citizens vaccinated is the best way to put an end to the pandemic. Statesboro’s City Council and I are committed to doing what it takes to keep our citizens safe and healthy.”

Other Georgia cities are offering incentives to employees specifically to get vaccinated. The Associated Press reported Brunswick, Gainesville and Moultrie all give $500 to vaccinated employees.

The Richmond County Board of Education changed the schools’ calendar, adding some distance learning days and two additional holidays, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Distance learning days were designated for:
•  Tuesday, Oct. 12

•  Friday, Nov. 12

•  Tuesday, Feb. 22, and

•  Monday, March 14.

Each of these days follow or are preceded by a holiday or weekend. While students will still be receiving education, it will mean stretching some portions of time that students are spending at home.

The board also approved making Monday, Dec. 20, and Tuesday, Dec. 22, holidays. This will mean students’ final day before the winter holiday is Friday, Dec. 17, instead of Tuesday, Dec. 21.

These changes are also meant to give the school district more time to clean and sanitize its facilities in order to prevent COVID-19 spread. This kind of “reset” was previously done by the district during the Labor Day holiday, and Superintendent Kenneth Bradshaw reported that they saw a significant drop in positive cases and quarantines following that reset.

Fifty-eight Georgia state legislators signed an Amicus brief in the Supreme Court case involving a challenge to Mississippi’s abortion law, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Statesboro Herald.

The case, scheduled to be heard by the high court on Dec. 1, bans abortions after 15 weeks in Mississippi, nine weeks fewer than the 24-week precedent established by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

The amicus brief was organized by the State Innovation Exchange’s Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council, which describes itself as a “network of state legislators working to advance reproductive health, rights and justice.”

“State legislators are the first line of defense against policies that deliberately roll back progress on abortion rights and reproductive health across the country, and the overwhelming majority of the public agrees we must protect Roe v. Wade,” said the organization’s Jennifer Driver. “With this amicus brief, nearly 900 legislators are sending the Supreme Court a clear message: We cannot go back. You must uphold 50 years of legal abortion in all 50 states.”

Nowhere does the story identify the signatories, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say I suspect they were all Democrats.

Houston County State Court Judge Jason Ashford delayed all jury trials, according to 13WMAZ.

After more than a year off, he says jury trials resumed in May 2021. However, he says with the rise of the Delta variant, he decided to stop again in September.

“It was the right thing to do. My view to shift those a little bit later to give our hospitals a little more to recover and hopefully get these numbers down to more manageable level, so we’re not putting our jurors and court personnel at risk of infection,” said Ashford.

He says he had an important two-week civil trial set for this month, but he didn’t feel comfortable proceeding.

“The attorneys for both sides let the court know they were having great difficulty getting witnesses in because of COVID and their own personal safety as well,” said Ashford.

Wayne County public schools return to full-time in-person next week, according to WTOC.

Wayne County Schools will return to in-person learning on Monday, September 27. The district will operate under “Targeted Measures” as described below. Masks will be “highly recommended inside school facilities.”

No students will be learning in-person on Wednesday, September 22. Wayne County students whose names end in L-Z will be learning in-person on Thursday, September 23 and Friday, September 24.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black (R-Commerce) touts the support of 55 Republican legislators, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

Black announced Monday the endorsements of 55 GOP legislators, including Georgia House Majority Leader Jon Burns of Newington and the chairmen of the legislature’s two appropriations committees, Rep. Terry England of Auburn and Sen. Blake Tillery of Vidalia.

“I have worked with these leaders on everything from agriculture policy to food safety and petroleum issues, and they know me, my priorities, and my determination,” Black said. “That familiarity makes their support that much more important to me, and I am very grateful for it.”

Black’s list of legislative endorsements announced Monday also included House Majority Whip Matt Hatchett of Dublin, 16 House committee chairs, Senate Majority Caucus Vice Chairman Larry Walker III of Perry, and six Senate committee chairs.

Black landed endorsements earlier from former Gov. Nathan Deal, ex-U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, and three Republican members of the state Public Service Commission.

Black’s support from Georgia elected officials could position him to wage a spirited Republican primary campaign against Walker, the University of Georgia football icon who jumped into the race last month at Trump’s urging. Trump formally endorsed Walker earlier this month.

Democrat Michael Owens announced he will run for Secretary of State, according to the AJC.

Michael Owens, a former Cobb County Democratic chair, framed himself as the only candidate with the mix of experience and political knowhow to flip the seat held by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

“I could not stand by and not get in this race. It’s not just about elections. It’s about supporting our businesses,” said Owens, an information security officer at Equifax. “And I have to use this opportunity to put my unique skillsets to use. I wouldn’t be getting in if I didn’t see a clear path to victory.”

Owens has twice unsuccessfully run for the U.S. House, losing primary challenges in 2014 and 2020 to veteran Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott. He said hard-earned lessons will help guide him in the crowded Democratic race, where state Rep. Bee Nguyen has built a formidable edge in fundraising and endorsements.

“What it’s going to take to win the election is someone who has a widespread base and can build coalitions,” he said. “I’ve got that skillset.”

Candidates for Mayor and City Council of Brunswick met in a forum, according to The Brunswick News.

Candidates for mayor and city commission are not required to declare political affiliation.

Ivan Figueroa said the city must be careful where it is putting its resources. He said there are 500 abandoned houses in the city, some of which need to be torn down. He said the city needs to deal with its flooding problems and roads.

Rome City Commissioners will decide whether to call an election for voter approval of a $25 million dollar bond issue, according to the Rome News Tribune.

If the proposal wins majority backing, voters in the Nov. 2 election will be asked to approve the issuance of bonds. The debt service would be about $2.6 million a year.

The Muscogee County Board of Elections announced a polling location change, according to WTVM.

According to Muscogee County Elections and Registration, voters in the Gentian precinct will now vote at the Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center at corner of East Lindsay Drive. Until recently, those voters would go to the LDS Church on Reese Rd.

Officials say Gentian voters will receive a new precinct card in the mail soon.

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