Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 13, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 13, 2021

On October 13, 1870, Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Education.

On October 13, 1885, Governor Henry McDaniel signed legislation authorizing the creation of a state school of technology as a branch of the University of Georgia; the school would open in Atlanta in October 1888, and in 1948 was renamed the Georgia Institute of Technology.

On October 13, 1918, the ban on public gatherings in Atlanta to prevent spread of the Spanish flu, was extended an additional week.

On October 13, 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter received a post-debate bump against President Gerald Ford, with polls showing Carter at 50%-40% over the incumbent, up from 47%-45% before the debate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

One year ago, the early voting stats for the General Election were:

Total votes cast:               628,516

Mail-in votes cast:          499,494

In-person votes cast:     129,022

Today, the early voting stats for the General Election are:

Total votes cast:               9,281

Mail-in votes cast:             197

In-person votes cast:     9,082

Mail-in applications:    21,341

Mail-in ballots issued: 20,808

In-person Advance voting began in Columbus, according to WTVM.

From now until October 29th, Columbus residents have the chance to vote early in-person or submit their absentee ballot.

Election official Khalil Nunes says the turnout has been great so far.

“Today we had 65 voters come in and we mailed out 193 absentee ballots,” said Nunes on the first day of early voting.

Voters will be deciding on a special purpose local option sales tax – or SPLOST – in this special election.

From 13WMAZ:

Tuesday isn’t the only day you’ll be able to cast your vote early, you have 16 total dates to choose from.

You will need to bring your ID to the polls with you before you can cast a vote.

You can also send your ballot in through the mail, or take it to either early voting location.

Your ID is required this year for absentee voting, too.

The voter registration deadline for the Nov. election has passed, but the last day to submit an absentee ballot application is Oct. 22.

In Bibb County, the only choices you’ll have on the ballot this year are YES and NO. Voters will decide whether to approve a special extra penny sales tax known as the OLOST. It aims to boost county finances.

From the Macon Telegraph:

In Macon, voters can vote for or against an “Other Local Options Sales Tax,” or OLOST, in a special election. The OLOST would add a penny sales tax on the dollar for county purchases and services, while allowing for a property tax rollback, reports the CCJ’s Liz Fabian.

According to the county, the additional tax revenue would go to pay public safety and emergency services, road repair, street cleanup, park maintenance and more.

Property taxes collected for Macon-Bibb County would be initially reduced by 5 mills according to House Bill 575, which authorized the additional tax, and then by an estimated 7 mills, more than one-third of the county’s property tax rate. The OLOST would bring in an estimated $30 million a year for the county.

“This would be the largest single property tax reduction in our community’s history,” Mayor Lester Miller said back in April. “The OLOST will generate millions in revenue for our general fund and, because of our geography, we know that more than 70% of it will come from people who live outside of our county.

Three candidates are running for Mayor in Stone Mountain, according to the AJC.

Patricia Wheeler, who has served as mayor for 18 years off-and-on since the 1980s, is not running for reelection, so change is inevitable this election cycle. Beverly Jones, Andrea Redmond and Eileen Smith are vying to become her successor, and each told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they want to focus on healing divisions within both the community and City Council.

Darrion Ratliff, at 15, is the youngest certified election official in Georgia, according to the Albany Herald.

Ratliff said it all began last year. His mom who works at the elections office needed some help.

What started as moving equipment around and setting up turned into an official position.

After multiple online classes and some training in Atlanta using the elections equipment, Ratliff got his certification.

He’s now an election technician assistant on the payroll.

Rome City Commissioners supports expanding the membership of the County Board of Elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Floyd County Commissioners have endorsed two recommendations from the Floyd County Elections Board — to increase their board members from three to five and to schedule a third party performance review.

The election board change won’t go into effect until the spring of 2022 at the earliest.

It requires approval from the Georgia General Assembly so commissioners will ask local lawmakers Reps. Katie Dempsey, Mitchell Scoggins and Eddie Lumsden and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler to submit the legislation.

No counterfeit ballots were found after an audit overseen by a Superior Court Judge, according to the AJC.

The court document filed on behalf of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said investigators reviewed 1,000 absentee ballots from batches in Fulton County that allegedly contained “pristine” ballots with perfectly filled-in ovals and no fold lines. All ballots in those batches appeared to be legitimate.

“The secretary’s investigators have not uncovered any absentee ballots that match the descriptions given by affiants or otherwise appear to be fraudulent or counterfeit,” stated the 89-page response to the court by Georgia Assistant Attorney General Charlene McGowan.

The secretary of state’s office provided information about its investigations in response to a request last month from Superior Court Judge Brian Amero, who is considering whether to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit is based on sworn statements by four Republican election auditors who alleged they saw suspicious ballots during a statewide audit that recounted every ballot by hand in November.

Suspended Chattahoochee County Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mark Jones pled not guilty, according to WTVM.

The charges stacked against Jones in his latest legal troubles include bribery and attempting to influence a witness.

“I think once the jury hears the full facts of the case and watches the videos associated with it – that they’re going to exonerate mister Jones and laugh the case out of court again,” said Chris Breault, defense attorney.

According to court documents, Jones allegedly tried to influence a lead investigator on a case to say something in court that would upgrade Elijiah Farrel’s charges from manslaughter to murder for the death of 18-year-old Sara Holtrop.

“You know, I’ve seen the evidence. I’ve seen the videos and this is another fake case. Another b-s case, however you want to put it. And I would not accept this. I would not agree to defend him or anyone else if I did not believe he was innocent,” Jones’ attorney said.

According to the court document, Jones is also accused of offering two assistant district attorneys $1,000 bonuses – one for securing a murder conviction and the other for announcing a case was ready for trial when it was not.

“We’ll see them in court November 8 and somebody’s going to lose their job and it’s either going to be Mister Jones or somebody else involved in this.” said Breault.

The next federal tax payment for children is due out this week, according to WSAV.

Through Sept. 15, the U.S. Treasury Department said it has made over 106 million payments over the three rounds of monthly payments so far, totaling $46 billion.

The advance child tax credit payments have been made to the families of over 60 million qualifying children, and the department said the results are already showing: Food insecurity among families with children dropped 24% after the distribution of the first payments in July, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Half the total credit amount is being paid in advance monthly payments on the 15th of each month, which started in July and ends in December. Families will claim the other half of the credit when they file their 2021 income tax returns.

Troup County public schools will end their mask mandate, according to WTVM.

Beginning Monday, October 18, wearing masks in schools will be optional, but ‘highly recommended’ the district says. Superintendent Dr. Brian T. Shumate says the ‘highly recommended’ status will remain in place unless a school’s positive coronavirus numbers become greater than 1% of their total student enrollment.

School officials say support of safety practices such as mask wearing, social distancing, temperature screening, and restricting visitors led to this decision.

“…If the school’s enrollment is 500, the school will continue to have the option of wearing a mask until they have 5 or more positive cases within the school. Once that threshold is reached, that particular school will return to required masks until cases decline to the half-percent mark, which in this case would be 3 or less. If multiple schools across the county have reached their one percent threshold and we reach a critical mass, all schools will return to the mask requirement.”

Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson (D) said decisions will be made soon whether to permit large gatherings next month, according to WTOC.

Mayor Van Johnson said a decision could come as early as Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. That’s after he meets with the health advisory committee, which is made up of doctors from area hospitals, as well as leaders from the health department.

Of course, the biggest event coming to Savannah next month is the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon, which draws in more than 10,000 runners and spectators.

We know already from Visit Savannah that 16,000 racers have pre-registered, and about 80 percent of those racers are from out of town.

United States Senate candidate Gary Black (R) spoke to WDUN about his visit to the Southern Border in Texas.

Georgia State Senator David Lucas (D-Macon) received emergency brain surgery, according to 13WMAZ.

Georgia state Senator David Lucas is recovering after brain surgery.

That’s according to his wife, Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Elaine Lucas, who mentioned it at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

She says he fell out of bed last month and hit his head. He was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with brain bleeding.

He could be released from the hospital Tuesday or Wednesday.

Senator Lucas and his family are in our prayers.

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck (R) was sentenced to seven years in federal prison, according to the Associated Press via WTOC.

A federal judge has sentenced former Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck to more than seven years in prison for fraud.

The judge on Tuesday also ordered Beck to pay $2.6 million in restitution to make up for money he stole from an insurer.

Jurors in July swiftly convicted the 60-year-old Beck on 37 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and tax fraud.

The trial detailed a scheme that channeled more than $2.5 million from the Georgia Underwriting Association to Beck’s bank accounts.

The Beck family are in our prayers.

The Lee County Commission heard a request to revise their ordinance governing zoning for solar facilities, according to WALB.

An energy company called NextEra Energy has been a part of the Pinewood Solar project. The project intends to bring 300 jobs to the community, but it is directly affected by the zoning restrictions on the solar panels.

Environmental Attorney Jonathan Wells spoke as an outside counsel for NextEra Energy at Tuesday’s commission meeting to offer an alternative zoning option.

“There needs to be a 150-foot-wide buffer from the solar facility parameters. Where that can become a little bit problematic is that it doesn’t actually go to the intent of what is supposed to be buffered. What should be buffered is the actual solar panels, the inverters, that sort of thing,” said Wells.

NextEra Energy also proposed tax abatements as well as reducing agreements set in place before Sept. 18 of last year to be added to this amendment. There was a moratorium that was extended to Oct. 29 of this year so that commissioners could review a study done by Valdosta State University. The study was to determine the short-term and long-term impacts of financing the construction of large-scale solar energy facilities.

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