Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 19, 2019


George Washington’s Continental Army entered winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1777.

During 1777, Patriot forces under General Washington suffered major defeats against the British at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown; Philadelphia, the capital of the United States, fell into British hands. The particularly severe winter of 1777-1778 proved to be a great trial for the American army, and of the 11,000 soldiers stationed at Valley Forge, hundreds died from disease. However, the suffering troops were held together by loyalty to the Patriot cause and to General Washington, who stayed with his men.

When Washington’s army marched out of Valley Forge on June 19, 1778, the men were better disciplined and stronger in spirit than when they had entered.

In her youth, Mrs. GaPundit continually reminded her parents that the area in which she grew up, literally down the street from Valley Forge National Historic Park, was well known for causing frostbite.

On December 21, 1829, Georgia Governor George Gilmer signed legislation outlawing the teaching of African-Americans to read or write. One year later to the day, he signed legislation claiming for the state all territory occupied by the Cherokee tribe.

On December 21, 1835, Oglethorpe University was incorporated near Macon, later moving to Atlanta.

On December 19, 1860, the Georgia General Assembly adopted Resolution 14, which read in part,

Resolved 4th. That, should any or all of the Southern States determine in the present emergency to withdraw from the Union and resume their sovereignty, it is the sense of this General Assembly that such seceding States should form a confederacy under a republican form of government; and to that end they should adopt the Constitution of the United States, so altered and amended as to suit the new state of affairs.

On December 20, 1864, Confederate forces in Savannah retreated ahead of Sherman’s army, crossing over into South Carolina, four years to the day after South Carolina’s secession.

On December 19, 1868, Congress opened hearings into barriers African-Americans faced to voting in Georgia, which included threats, violence, and death.

On December 21, 1863, the Confederate government selected a site in Sumter County for construction of Camp Sumter, which would be better known by the name Andersonville Prison.

General William Tecumseh Sherman received the surrender of Savannah, Georgia on December 21, 1864.

On December 22, 1864, General Sherman wrote to President Lincoln,

“I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”

Eugene Talmadge, who was elected four times as Governor of Georgia, in 1932, 1934, 1940, and 1946, died on December 21, 1946, leading to the Three Governors Controversy.

On December 19, 1998, the United States House of Representatives voted to approve two of four Articles of Impeachment against President Bill Clinton.

Article I was approved 228-206. Voting in favor were 223 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Voting against were 200 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and one Independent.

Article II was defeated 229-205. Voting in favor were 200 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Voting against were 200 Democrats, 28 Republicans, and one Independent.

Article III was approved 221-212. Voting in favor were 216 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Voting against were 199 Democrats, 12 Republicans, and one Independent.

Article IV was defeated 285-148. Voting in favor were 147 Republicans and one Democrat. Voting against were 203 Democrats, 81 Republicans, and one Independent.

On all four impeachment articles, Georgia’s congressional delegation voted exclusively along party lines. Republican congressmen Jack Kingston (1st district), Mac Collins (3rd district), Newt Gingrich (6th district), Bob Barr (7th district), Saxby Chambliss (8th district), Nathan Deal (9th district), Charlie Norwood (10th district), and John Linder (11th district) voted in favor of all four articles. Democratic congressmen Sanford Bishop (2nd district) and John Lewis (5th district) and congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (4th district) voted against all four articles.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp wants violent gangs out of Georgia, according to WJCL.

In front of a crowd of hundreds in Savannah, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp told violent gangs in the area to leave the state and move to South Carolina and Florida.

The speech took place Wednesday at the Savannah Chamber.

During the speech, Kemp talked about the continued success and growth of the Port of Savannah. He also touched on education and healthcare.

“My message to any gang member in this area or anywhere in the state of Georgia, you should move to Florida or South Carolina.”

“I’m tired of our law enforcement officials being shot up for no reason by gangbangers,” the governor said.

Governor Kemp also spoke to the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, according to the Albany Herald.

Tuesday was a busy day for officials involved in economic development, one that was punctuated in the evening by an appearance by Gov. Brian Kemp at a dinner in downtown Albany.

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the second annual Governor’s Dinner, also held a small business forum Tuesday morning.

“The business community is really involved” in Albany, Kemp said during an interview prior to the dinner. “That’s what I like to see.”

While Atlanta remains the economic hub of the state, 2019 saw significant economic development projects throughout the state, the governor said.

“We had 332 projects, worth $7.4 billion,” Kemp said. “Seventy-four percent of those were outside the perimeter in Atlanta. The whole state is dotted with projects. That’s what we’ve really been focusing on this year.”

It was a monumental accomplishment that those projects came to fruition in a year when much of the state was recovering from the pounding in 2018 from Hurricane Michael, Kemp said.

“That’s why we’re showing up here,” he said.

Fewer than 5000 voters (about 1.5%) slated for purging from the state voter database acted to preserve their registration, according to GPB News.

Just under 4,500 Georgia voters acted to keep their voter registrations from being purged this week, a small percentage of more than 313,000 registrations set to be canceled for inactivity and failure to respond to election officials.

308,753 registrations were moved from “inactive” to “canceled” status Monday night as part of federally-required voter list maintenance, according to an updated list from the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Voter purges in Georgia became a hot-button issue during last year’s race for governor between Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, who won the race. Kemp served as secretary of state before being elected governor and oversaw aggressive voter purges during his tenure. Over 1.4 million voter registrations were canceled in Georgia between 2012 and 2018.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in October released a list of over 313,000 voters whose registrations were at risk of being canceled, about 4% of the state’s total registered voters. Notices were mailed in November giving those voters 30 days to respond in order to keep their registration valid.

“The extra steps we took allowed us to reach people and help them preserve their registration. I consider that a success,” Raffensperger said in a statement.

Raffensperger’s office has defended the list maintenance, saying it makes the administration of elections smoother and helps guard against voter fraud.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger visited Rome to discuss rolling out the new voting system, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“This will be the largest roll-out of voting machines in the U.S.,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger stopped by the Floyd County elections office on Wednesday to sit down with Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady to talk about the new voting machines that will be installed at every Georgia voting precinct before the March 2020 presidential preference primary.

Voting machine demonstrations have already begun throughout Georgia and have been met with immense praise, Raffensperger said.

According to Brady, local elections offices have already begun training in preparation for election season.

The 2020 election season is expected to have the largest voter turnout in Georgia history, with a projected turnout of around 5 million voters, Raffensperger said.

A Special Election for State House District 171 has drawn three candidates, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Following the death of Rep. Jay Powell on Nov. 26, a special election will be held for the district which covers parts of Colquitt, Decatur and Mitchell counties.

The special election will be held Jan. 28, two weeks after the legislative session begins. If a runoff is needed, it will be held Feb. 25.

Two Republicans and one Democrat will be listed on the ballot. To qualify, prospective candidates were required to pay a $400 fee and register during a short three day window through the Election Division of the Office of Secretary of State.

Hit the link to read about the candidates in a pretty well-written and thorough article.

Some State Senate Republicans prefiled a resolution opposing the impeachment of President Trump, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

State Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega pre-filed the resolution Wednesday with Sens. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, and Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta.

“Politics hit a new low in our Nation’s Capitol with the impeachment vote that is expected to be taken tonight,” Gooch said in a statement. “It is sad to see the partisan bickering in our U.S. House of Representatives. Congress should be working together to protect our families and fellow Americans across the United States. Cutting our national debt and deficit spending should be a priority at a time when we are experiencing historic low unemployment numbers and historic highs in the stock market. Protecting our borders and investing in much needed infrastructure should be the issues they are debating, not these baseless allegations against President Trump.”

The resolution opposing impeachment is Senate Res. 538.

President Trump lauded Congressman Buddy Carter via Twitter, according to The Brunswick News.

At 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, President Donald Trump cast his social media gaze at Georgia’s 1st Congressional District.

“@Buddy_Carter is a BUSINESSMAN first,” the president tweeted. “He takes care of our Vets and Troops and is leading the fight to SLASH drug prices! Buddy’s 100% pro-Wall & 100% pro-jobs. He will KEEP AMERICA GREAT and has my total, Strong Endorsement!”

“I was a little surprised, to be quite honest with you,” Carter, R-1, said Wednesday. “We work with the White House all the time — we’re in constant touch with them, and especially here recently, we’ve been in very close contact with them because of the prescription drug pricing that we’ve been discussing. So, the pace has really picked up. We’ve been talking to them once or twice a day. But we’re always in touch with them — we’re usually at least three times a week talking to them, over at the White House.”

“I’m very proud to have the president’s endorsement,” Carter said. “And then, of course, I’m a big supporter of the president and have been ever since I’ve been up here. I love his policies — I think he’s spot-on and I think he’s having a generational impact, particularly with the conservative judges that he’s been appointing. That, to me, has been one of the most significant if not the most significant impact this president has had.”

[Carter] said he does not intend to challenge Kelly Loeffler, the senator-designate, for the job.

“I’m very proud of the appointment that the governor has made,” Carter said. “I promised the governor, when I spoke to him after Johnny announced his retirement, that I would support his decision and I am supporting his decision. Of course, I’m more focused right now in helping Republicans get us back in the majority in the House of Representatives. And no, I have no intentions at this point of running for the Senate.”

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham announced in April that he would retire and not seek another term. Earlier this month, he announced a change in his plan:

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, the first African American to serve on the state’s highest court, announced Thursday [December 5] he will step down from the bench on March 1.

Benham, 73, had been expected to retire when his current six-year term ends on Dec. 31, 2020. But by leaving more than nine months earlier, Benham gives Gov. Brian Kemp the chance to appoint his successor. It also upends an ongoing race with four contenders hoping to succeed Benham.

The nonpartisan race had been scheduled to be held in May, but that won’t happen now. Under state law, the person Kemp appoints to succeed Benham will not have to run for election until 2022.

Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle was the first to announce she was running for what was believed to be Benham’s upcoming open seat. Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow then joined the race, followed by former state lawmaker Beth Beskin and Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson, who presides over Newton and Walton counties.

So, the initial announcement set off a series of dominoes falling, as incumbent judges announced for Benham’s seat, thus opening their own. Judge Sara Doyle’s reelection to the Court of Appeals may be more difficult now, as three candidates who announced for her seat are still running for it, according to the Fulton Daily Report.

Three of the eight candidates vying for what was initially an open Court of Appeals seat are actively staying in the race, in which they now face the incumbent, Presiding Judge Sara Doyle.

Tabitha Ponder Beckford’s campaign told supporters by email Monday that Justice Robert Benham’s announcement that he’ll leave the state Supreme Court earlier than expected “has created a domino effect in our race that makes it unclear what will happen next year with regards to our Court of Appeals race, but I want to continue to build momentum as I strongly believe this race is far from over.”

[S]he’ll face Doyle and at least two other candidates in the May election for Doyle’s seat. They are Bennett Bryan, who heads appellate litigation for the DeKalb County Law Department, and Kimberly Bourroughs Debrow, a DeKalb County senior assistant district attorney, who both said last week they were staying in the race.

Four candidates for Judge Doyle’s seat will withdraw, while a fifth will reassess.

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Revising Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felony Offenders declined to recommend changes to how felon voting rights are restored, according to the Center Square.

The members voted 3-2 in favor of continuing to restrict nearly 250,000 convicted Georgia felons from voting.

According to Georgia’s law, people who have been convicted of crimes with moral turpitude cannot vote until they complete their full sentence, including probation or parole. The U.S. Department of Justice defines moral turpitude as “conduct that shocks the public conscience.”

The state’s constitution does not clearly define the term, however, leaving all felonies subject to the law.

Committee Chairman Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, said moral turpitude may have to be further examined as a separate issue apart from felon rights. voted with the majority.

The Senate Gaming and Pari-mutuel Wagering Study Committee also declined to adopt recommendations for legislation, according to The Brunswick News.

“The posture of the committee, and the posture of the chair, is that we are not going to vote on any recommendations today — we are going to vote the report,” said committee Chairman Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, at the committee’s final meeting Wednesday. “We have sent the report to everyone. We will go through some of the report and get comments from everybody.

“We will not vote on any recommendations today, but I will say this — we will work with leadership, we’re going to work with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and the Governor’s Office and hopefully come up with some recommendations before Jan. 13, or we will be working toward those with the caucus leadership, and so on.”

Beach said one of the things senators learned from legislative counsel is that sports betting would likely need a constitutional amendment. He also said that this cycle of debating gambling legalization is the first time the state’s professional sports franchises came out in support of the idea.

According to the committee’s report, casino gambling and pari-mutuel wagering would also need constitutional amendments to pass to achieve legalization.

My hat is off and I award +3 to whomever at The Brunswick News wrote a headline correctly using “eschew.”

The Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Physician Assistants and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Study Committee discussed potential changes to non-physician medical practice, according to Georgia Health News.

Bills seeking to broaden the ‘‘scope of practice’’ of mid-level medical providers (non-physicians with advanced training) are introduced annually at the Legislature, with proponents saying the changes would increase the public’s access to medical care. But these proposals typically meet tough resistance from medical provider groups seeking to defend the status quo.

Nelson, president of the United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses of Georgia, points to medical imaging. APRNs in Georgia can order such tests only in an emergency situation, and ours is the only state with that restriction.

Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who is herself a nurse, pushed for eliminating the imaging rule at a panel hearing Tuesday. Currently, an advanced nurse “can’t order an MRI when it needs to be done,’’ she said.

And Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), who’s an anesthesiology assistant, said, “The bottom hasn’t fallen out’’ in the 49 states allowing APRNs to order non-emergency imaging tests.

But the vote for recommending the imaging change was 3-2 in favor, with two physicians on the panel, Sens. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) and Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta), voting against. “I think advanced imaging requires advanced training,’’ Kirkpatrick said.

For true healthcare policy nerds, it’s an article worth reading in its entirety.

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission met this week to begin its work regulating the in-state production of cannabis-based medications, according to the AJC.

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, during its first meeting Wednesday, began exploring how to manufacture or import the oil for use by the state’s nearly 14,000 registered patients.

The commission’s members emphasized that they want to help people get the medicine that works for them.

“We have patients who have been granted cards to be able to obtain a medical product that they have no legal ways of getting in Georgia right now,” said Dr. Judith Rochon, a psychiatrist and member of the commission.

Patients have been allowed to use medical marijuana in Georgia since 2015, but it was only this year that the General Assembly passed a bill permitting its production and sale.

The commission includes three doctors, a police chief, a health policy professor, a member of the Georgia Board of Pharmacy and a massage franchise owner.

Despite the board’s pledge to act quickly, patients advocating for medical marijuana said they believe it could take 18 months or more to create regulations, issue licenses and get medicine to patients.

The board plans to hire a director, create a website and hold public meetings monthly across Georgia.

Failure to lauch: the Camden County Spaceport is on hold for the time being, as the FAA pushes its decision making timeline, according to the Georgia Recorder.

The launch date for Spaceport Camden is on indefinite hold after federal regulators held up an expected approval of Camden County’s license to operate the facility, prompting questions over the project’s future.

County officials recently scrapped plans to launch larger rockets like the 230-foot-tall SpaceX Falcon 9 from a pad near the coast. Instead, the new focus is on smaller satellite-bearing rockets that will burn up in the earth’s atmosphere. The change requires amending the county’s application for a launch operator license, which the Federal Aviation Administration was supposed to rule on Monday.

County officials made the last-minute request for an application change Saturday, just two days before the FAA’s license approval deadline, said agency spokeswoman Eva Ngai.

County officials now view smaller rockets the size of mini-fridges that carry satellites into orbit as a more viable economic market than the larger models, said project spokesman John Simpson. He said the county asked to revise its license application to make sure the FAA would approve small-sized rockets and not just the larger units. He declined to elaborate on the timing of the license change request.

“There’s going to be a lot more opportunity for those small launch vehicles,” Simpson said Tuesday. “We want to be absolutely sure that we get a review of those rockets for the market we’re seeking.”

 The 2020 election for Augusta Commission Super District 9 has drawn 4 candidates so far, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

[Former Augusta commissioner Corey] Johnson is the fourth person to pursue the seat, which represents half the Augusta-Richmond County population and spans commission districts 1, 2, 4, 5 and 9. He joins former mayoral candidate and retired businessman Charles Cummings, former commission candidate and small-businesswoman Jo’Rae Jenkins and retired state employee Francine Scott.

The Lowndes County Board of Elections voted to create a new voting precinct, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Lowndes County Board of Elections met Tuesday for its final session of 2019. Members unanimously voted to approve the creation of a new voting precinct at Jaycee Shack for future elections. It will be the 11th voting location in the county.

“Other counties are reducing (the number of voting precincts) and we’re adding, so that’s great,” said Deb Cox, Lowndes County supervisor of elections.

The new voting precinct will be located at the Jaycee Shack facility on 2306 Jaycee Shack Road.

Chatham Area Transit resumed ferryboat operations on the Savannah River after suspending due to dredging, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The ferries are now docking at the City Hall landing, as well as the Savannah Convention Center on Hutchinson Island and the Waving Girl landing at Morrell Park on the east side of the Riverwalk.

The free ferries operate from 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

The ferry is one of my favorite things about Savannah.

Glynn County commissioners may release additional funding from the current SPLOST to the Joint Water and Sewer Commission, according to The Brunswick News.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 18, 2019

The British ship Mayflower landed at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 18, 1620.


Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley who founded Methodism, and one of the great hymn-writers, was born on December 18, 1707. Wesley accompanied James Oglethorpe to Georgia in 1736.

The first national day of thanksgiving was observed on December 18, 1777 commemorating the American victory over the British at Saratoga the previous month.

Congress wrote, “It is therefore recommended to the Legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES, to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for solemn THANKSGIVING and PRAISE; That at one Time and with one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor”.

On December 18, 1834, Governor William Lumpkin signed legislation chartering the Georgia Methodists Conference Manual Labor School at Oxford, Georgia, which would later become Emory College in 1836 and Emory University in 1915.

On December 18, 1865, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward issued a statement verifying the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery in the United States.

The office of Superintendent of Public Education and Georgia Schools was created on December 18, 1866 when Gov. Charles Jenkins signed legislation passed by the General Assembly; on December 18, 1894, Gov. William Atkinson approved a resolution for a Constitutional Amendment to make the State School Commissioner elected statewide.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters was eulogized after his death in Pensacola, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Roughly 400 people, including dozens of uniformed service members, gathered at a Savannah church to remember 21-year-old Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters of neighboring Richmond Hill. His casket, draped with an American flag, stood at the front of a stage adorned with Christmas trees.

Walters was among three sailors killed Dec. 6 when the gunman opened fire at Pensacola Naval Air Station. Federal authorities said the gunman also wounded eight other people in the rampage before a sheriff’s deputy killed him.

The slain sailor’s father, Shane Walters, has said his son had recently arrived in Florida after completing boot camp and was standing watch at the entrance of a classroom building where the attack occurred.

Mourners in the front row at Walters’ funeral in the large sanctuary at Compassion Christian Church included Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who ordered flags lowered to half-staff at all statewide buildings to honor the sailor.

The Navy posthumously awarded all three slain sailors the gold wings badge they had been training to earn.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger‘s office completed the purge of more than 300k inactive voters, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

A federal judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order on the Secretary of State’s plans to purge the thousands of voters.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said Monday court will reconvene Thursday to further examine the issue, but he will not stop voters on the list from being purged as planned.

Bryan Tyson, secretary of state’s counsel, said that there is a misconception when using the word “purge” that records of inactive voters will be wiped, which is not true. The voters are changed in status in the system.

Tyson said that federally mandated voter maintenance is only allowed every odd year and not within a 90-day period before the presidential primary. The clean-up needs to take place before Christmas Day or maintenance will not happen until 2021.

Jones decided the purge could continue, and if he ruled against the voters being removed on Thursday, the Secretary of State’s office would need to reverse the process.

Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections will host one of the new voting machines for voters to learn about, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

“The new voting system is easy to use, provides opportunities for voters to review their votes on a screen and on paper before casting their ballot, and also provides our office with multiple ways to review election results if necessary,” Charlotte Sosebee, Athens-Clarke County director of Elections and Voter Registration, said in a news release.

Voters will use a touch screen to mark ballots, then print out a paper ballot they can scan into an optical reader after reviewing it. Elections officials will keep the paper ballots for possible use in recounts or audits.

One unit is at the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections office at 155 E. Washington St. Voters can test out that unit through early February during the office’s normal hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) spoke about impeachment during the House Rules Committee meeting, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

 “We’re talking today about reversing America’s last election. Candidly, I have every bit as much concern about the time that we will reverse the next election or the election after that,” Woodall said during the committee’s debate. “It is not more divided in this Congress today than it was in 1998 when folks found a process on which they could work together.”

“As much as we cared about the presidency then, we cared more about the Constitution later. We found a way to move forward in a bipartisan way then, and moving forward in a partisan way today is going to have serious repercussions. I truly believe America will judge us harshly because of the process that has come forward.”

The Rules Committee decided to have six hours of debate split between Republicans and Democrats, as well as one hour of additional debate on a procedural vote about the rule governing the debate.

Woodall did vote to instead set the debate length at 12 hours, but it was defeated in a 9-4 party line vote.

“The most severe constitutional remedy in existence has been weaponized as just another way to attack the president of the party that isn’t yours,” [Congressman Doug] Collins said in his opening statement to the Rules Committee. “To attack this president, Democrats are willing to tear down every inch of this and every other institution necessary.”

United States Senator-designee Kelly Loeffler pledged to fight impeachment of President Trump, according to the AJC.

“I’m an outsider to Washington. I’m not even sure where my office is going to be. But I can tell you with certainty my first vote is an easy one,” Loeffler said Tuesday on the eve of a House vote that is set to result in Trump’s impeachment.

“This impeachment sham is an attack on what was a free and fair election, and I will stand strongly against impeachment and vote no,” she said. “This is something that’s been going on for years, and it’s time to end it and get back to work for Georgians.”

Early next month, Loeffler will be sworn into office and thrown into a debate about whether Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his top 2020 rivals.

“I know impeachment will take up a lot of news coverage, but it doesn’t affect everyday lives,” Loeffler said. “We need to get past the impeachment sham and see what we can do to help Georgians.”

Loeffler also discussed her basketball team’s opposition to religious liberty legislation, according to the AJC.

“I bought the Atlanta Dream because I love basketball. I wanted to do something for the city of Atlanta, for the Southeast, for sports. I did not buy the team for political purposes or political statements,” she said. “I believe that people of faith should be free to make statements without fear of persecution.”

Pressed on whether that meant she supported the legislation, she indicated that she did.

“I think people of faith should be protected,” she said. “And we should all be able to act according to our religious beliefs.”

She added: “And we should treat all people with love and respect.”

Former Governor Nathan Deal has spoken to Loeffler, according to the AJC.

“She understands that she’s going to have to work hard, she’s going to have to introduce herself to a lot of people, and that’s hard work. I think from what she told me she’s willing to undertake that. That’s what it’s going to take for anybody who tries to run for anything these days, especially statewide.”

Asked if he felt confident in her ability, he elaborated:

“I feel pretty positive about her. She’s a very smart lady and has a lot of experience in the business world and of course has been involved on the sidelines at least in the political arena, so she’s not a novice, by any stretch of the imagination. Just because people may not know her name in a widespread fashion does not mean she’s a total newcomer. She’s not.”

Glynn County Commissioners took a round of cuts to the project list for a proposed 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (“SPLOST”), according to The Brunswick News.

Commissioners unanimously favored implementing a five-year SPLOST this time around, which could collect as much as $110 million accounting for fluctuations in the economy, according to county manager Alan Ours. Because of widespread predictions of an imminent economic downturn, he recommending keeping the projects list under $100 million.

The commission felt they would be safe setting a cap on the list at $105 million. Proceeds would be split between the county, city of Brunswick, Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission and Jekyll Island Authority.

Commissioners unanimously favored implementing a five-year SPLOST this time around, which could collect as much as $110 million accounting for fluctuations in the economy, according to county manager Alan Ours. Because of widespread predictions of an imminent economic downturn, he recommending keeping the projects list under $100 million.

The commission felt they would be safe setting a cap on the list at $105 million. Proceeds would be split between the county, city of Brunswick, Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission and Jekyll Island Authority.

The Muscogee County Board of Education unanimously adopted a project list totaling $189 million for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (“ESPLOST”), according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus voters will be asked next year to renew a tax that would pay for 22 projects totaling an estimated $189 million, including the consolidation of two schools into a new building, the construction of a postponed sports complex and the replacement of a public library.

During its monthly meeting Monday night, the Muscogee County School Board unanimously approved Superintendent David Lewis’ recommendation for the final list of proposed projects.

The projects would be funded by the 1% Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax if Columbus voters renew it. That referendum will be on the March 24 ballot, along with the presidential primary.

Gainesville City Council adopted new regulations on hotels, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gainesville hotels have some new regulations after the City Council approved a set of code amendments Tuesday, including restrictions on lengths of stays and record-keeping requirements.

Hotels are allowed to provide lodging in a room for up to 15 days, while guests at extended-stay hotels can stay for up to 30 days. Any hotel that has fixed cooking appliances or a kitchen in at least 5% of the rooms would be designated as extended-stay.

Gainesville also adopted new rules for vape shops and hookah lounges, according to the Gainesville Times.

New businesses of these types will not be allowed to open in the city’s midtown overlay zone, an approximately 350-acre area bordered by E.E. Butler Parkway, Jesse Jewell Parkway, Queen City Parkway and the railroad. Retail sales of alternative nicotine products will also not be allowed in that area. Existing businesses will be grandfathered in as “legal, non-conforming uses.”

The businesses would need approval from the council to open in an area zoned light or heavy industrial. They could not be located within 500 feet of a similar business or within 1,000 feet of a school or day care, library, church, community or recreation center, liquor store, sexually oriented business, tattoo parlor, pawn shop, bar or nightclub, card room, check cashing business, park or residential zoning district.

The rules also prohibit anyone under the age of 18 to be in the businesses or work there. It is illegal to sell the products to anyone under 18.

Chatham Area Transit will roll out an app-based ticket system, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Daniel Hofman resigned as City Manager for Guyton, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Clarke County Board of Education voted to name Xernona Thomas as interim superintendent, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The First Right Whale Calf of the birthing season has been spotted off Sapelo Island, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Researchers with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium spotted the first right whale calf of the season off the coast of Sapelo Island Monday.

Both the “girthy” mom and her days-old baby appeared healthy.

“It’s a little peanut, a little 2,000-pound peanut,” said Barb Zoodsma, right whale biologist with NOAA Fisheries.

This is the first calf for the mom, who was born in 2005 and is known by her number in the New England Aquarium Right Whale catalog as #3560, wrote Clearwater Marine Aquarium spokeswoman Kelsy Long in an email. Unlike some right whales, she has no nickname.

“[The mother whale] is everything you’d hope to see in a right whale,” Zoodsma said. “She jet black. She’s very girthy, which is good if you’re a North Atlantic right whale. The bottom line is she herself looked very healthy.”

The calf sighting comes in the middle of the month Gov. Brian Kemp proclaimed as Georgia’s North Atlantic Right Whale Month. Including the calf, eight right whales have been spotted in the Southeast so far this calving season.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 17, 2019

France formally recognized the United States as an independent nation on December 17, 1777.

General Ulysses S. Grant expelled all Jews from his military district, which covered parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky on December 17, 1862. President Lincoln ordered Grant to rescind the order.

President William McKinley visited Savannah, Georgia on December 17, 1898. While there, McKinley attended church at Wesley Monumental Methodist Church and visited Georgia Agricultural and Medical College (now Savannah State University) and the Seventh Army.

On December 17, 1902, legislation changed Georgia’s state flag changed to include the coat of arms on the blue band.

Flag_of_the_State_of_Georgia_(1902-1906).svg copy

On December 17, 1944, Major General Henry C. Pratt ordered the end of the imprisonment of American citizens of Japanese descent in prison camps.

WTBS began broadcasting under new call letters on December 17, 1976 and uplinked its programming to satellite to become “America’s Super Station.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States District Judge Steve Jones allowed Georgia to purge its voter rolls starting last night, according to the Associated Press, via the Athens Banner Herald.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in October released a list of over 313,000 voters whose registrations were at risk of being canceled, about 4% of the state’s total registered voters. Notices were mailed in November giving those voters 30 days to respond in order to keep their registration valid. A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said last week that the purge was set to begin Monday evening.

Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, had filed an emergency request Monday morning asking the court to halt the purge of some people.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones initially set a hearing on Fair Fight’s request for Thursday and said the purge should be placed on hold until then, but he later decided to hold a hearing Monday afternoon at the state’s request.

Lawyer Bryan Tyson, representing the secretary of state, told the judge that the window for voter maintenance is narrow because it cannot be done within 90 days before an election, which is why it’s generally done in off years. If it’s not completed by later this month — 90 days before the presidential primaries on March 24 — it can’t be done until 2021 because next year has no 90-day periods without elections, he said.

From the AJC:

While all states are required by federal law to routinely update their voter lists, Georgia’s laws are stricter than most.

Georgia is one of nine states with a law known as “use it or lose it,” which allows registrations to be canceled after voters fail to participate in elections for several years.

“Proper list maintenance is not only required by long-standing laws but is also important in maintaining the integrity and smooth functioning of elections,” Raffensperger said. “Georgia has registered nearly a half-million voters since the last election, clear proof that we are doing things to make it easy for people to vote.”

In his ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said he could still order election officials to quickly reinstate canceled voters long before their registrations would be needed in an election. Jones will reconsider the issue during a court hearing Thursday.

“It appears that any voter registration cancellations can be undone at a later date,” Jones wrote in his order. “The court’s ruling is based largely on defense counsel’s statement (at today’s hearing) that any voter registration that is canceled today can be restored within 24 to 48 hours.”

The cancellation list doesn’t show racial disparities, with the number of black and white voters roughly matching their proportion of the state’s registered voters, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The State will buy more new voting machines for counties than originally planned, according to GPB News.

Nearly half of Georgia’s 159 counties are getting more voting machines than allotted in the original request for proposals, according to the latest numbers from the secretary of state’s office.

Georgia has purchased 33,100 Dominion ballot-marking devices as part of the largest single implementation of a new voting system in U.S. history, with 31,826 of them slated to be delivered to counties ahead of the March 24 presidential preference primary.

Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer and project manager with the secretary of state’s office, said that each county will receive either the number of machines requested in the RFP or one machine for every 225 active registered voters in the county, whichever is larger.

That ranges from 10 machines sent to Taliaferro, Quitman and Webster counties to more than 3,300 in Fulton. No county will have fewer BMDs than they had direct-recording electronic machines in the 2018 election.

Greg Dozier willl move from Chief Financial Officer in the Kemp Administration to Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, according to the AJC.

Greg Dozier, the state’s chief financial officer, will be the commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia’s 22 schools. The current commissioner, Matt Arthur, will lead the state’s Professional Standards Commission.

“We are incredibly excited to have Greg Dozier lead TCSG,” the system’s board chair, Anne Kaiser, said in a statement Monday. “As a long-time public servant, he has the right background and mindset to implement the Governor’s mission and follow TCSG’s ultimate objective: putting students first.”

The system has about 141,000 students and a current annual budget of nearly $375 million. State leaders have focused on the TCSG educating and training students to meet workforce demands in growing Georgia industries, such as health care and film, offering free tuition to study in some of these fields.

Kemp wrote several tweets late Monday praising Dozier as a “dear friend, trusted ally and strong leader” and saying Arthur has the “ideal skills” to lead the commission.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered the city to restrict information related to convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, according to the AJC.

The administrative order requires city officials — specifically the chief operating officer, city attorney, solicitor and chief judge of the Municipal Court — to establish a standard process by which people can apply to have those court records made off-limits to everyone except law enforcement by Feb. 1.

The order also impacts criminal records of people convicted of disorderly conduct under a city ordinance that was repealed by Mayor Shirley Franklin in 2007. That ordinance allowed police to arrest people for merely being “in a place where illegal drugs or narcotics are sold or possessed.”

A spokesman for the mayor said it is unclear how many people the new restrictions would impact, but said the administrative order has been in the works for months. It follows other criminal justice action by the administration: Bottoms is working to close the city’s detention center, and has eliminated cash bail for detainees.

“The fact remains that communities of color are disproportionately affected by the lingering stigma of victimless, minor offenses — even long after the accused have paid their debts,” Bottoms said in a prepared statement. “This outmoded practice deprives our communities and workforce of brilliant and promising minds, all because of an unfair justice system that can and will be course-corrected.”

Protestors outside the Mayor’s office sought more affordable housing development in Atlanta, according to the AJC.

Protesters gathered on Monday to criticize the city’s use of eminent domain to seize properties in Peoplestown for public use, as well as high eviction rates.

“The big issue here is Atlanta’s very toxic approach to development,” said Tim Franzen, who sits on the board of the Housing Justice League, an organization that works to preserve affordable housing and prevent gentrification. “We continue to have these big developer deals shoved down our throats.”

While Bottoms never spoke to the protesters, late in the day, Bottoms’ office issued a statement to the group saying, “The Mayor and senior members of her Administration have met with affected families on numerous occasions to work towards a viable solution to address their concerns.”

Earlier this year, Bottoms rolled out a comprehensive affordable housing plan that included the redevelopment of vacant and blighted properties, developer incentives, and the creation of a housing innovation lab. Bottoms has pledged to leverage $1 billion toward housing affordability to create and preserve 20,000 units of affordable housing in Atlanta by 2026.

The first criminal trial under Georgia’s Open Records Act started this week, according to the AJC.

Jenna Garland, a former press secretary to ex-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and the first person ever charged criminally with violating Georgia’s public records law, will finally have her day in court.

Trial is scheduled to start Monday in a case that’s gained national attention from open government advocates, but that carries relatively light punishment for Garland if she’s convicted. Prosecutors allege Garland committed a misdemeanor by ordering a subordinate in early 2017 to delay production of water billing records requested by Channel 2 Action News for the addresses of Reed and other city elected officials.

Garland, through her attorney, has adamantly denied any wrongdoing. She faces potential fines of up to $3,500 if convicted on both counts, but jail time is unlikely.

The Federal Aviation Administration has delayed its process to approve a spaceport in coastal Georgia, according to The Brunswick News.

The environmental impact statement scheduled for release Monday has been delayed indefinitely, according to officials from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The decision that could determine whether the site meets all the environmental requirements to launch rockets was put on hold at the request of Camden County officials. The county has submitted additional application materials that are under review.

The environmental assessment is more than a year overdue from the original date announced by the FAA.

Six months ago, the FAA announced it had all the information needed to make a decision, which is why Weinkle said he doesn’t understand the latest announcement to delay the decision indefinitely.

The Carter Center is criticizing Governor Kemp’s federal healthcare waiver applications, according to GPB News.

Kemp wants to expand Medicaid to people making less than $12,000 a year, but Georgians would only be eligible if they are working, attending school or involved in job training.

Some organizations are pushing back, including the Carter Center.

Eve Byrd with the Carter Center said the waivers’ proposed requirements are a step backward for the state, which already ranks poorly for many health-related issues including maternal care.

To require people with mental health conditions to work in order to receive health care — when they’re at the poverty level already — is really quite absurd, Byrd said, adding that no one expects to get sick be it with cancer or depression.

The Georgia Department of Community Health board is expected to vote on the governor’s proposal this week, after additional comments are processed and summarized for the board.

Augusta area governments have finalized the project list for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With a few final tweaks– including moving a $13 million rail spur ahead — area officials Monday completed their project lists for the next 10-year Transportation Investment Act sales tax, which is set to go on the March 24 ballot.

The Regional Transportation Roundtable representing the 13-county CSRA Region approved the changes in Thomson, and the lists now go to county board of elections offices to place on the March Presidential Preference Primary ballot.

Tammy Shepherd, president and CEO of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, said all the region’s chambers of commerce together have formed a committee that hired consultant Scott Macgregor to manage a campaign to ensure the tax passes.

“We will be doing fundraising through the committee and also developing the brand and the campaign itself and then executing the campaign,” she said.

Muscogee County School District has finalized the project list for a 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST), according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus voters will be asked next year to renew a tax that would pay for 22 projects totaling an estimated $189 million, including the consolidation of two schools into a new building, the construction of a postponed sports complex and the replacement of a public library.

During its monthly meeting Monday night, the Muscogee County School Board unanimously approved Superintendent David Lewis’ recommendation for the final list of proposed projects.

The projects would be funded by the 1% Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax if Columbus voters renew it. That referendum will be on the March 24 ballot, along with the presidential primary.

State Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) will not run for Congress, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Majority Whip and state Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, said in a brief statement that he doesn’t intend to seek the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Graves when he retires at the end of the term in 2020.

“Representing the 16th District is one of the greatest honors of my life. I am humbled and honored by the outpouring of support coming from across our nation, leaders in Washington, and most importantly our local community encouraging me to run for our district’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Kelley said in a written statement. “However, at this time, Amy and I feel the best way to serve our community, state, and nation is by continuing to represent the 16th District in the State House.”

The Valdosta Daily Times looks at some prefiled legislation in the Georgia General Assembly.

Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia, prefiled legislation that would allow women receiving abortion services to opt out of receiving information on their unborn child.

In 2005, the Georgia legislature passed the Women’s Right to Know Act which required women receiving abortions to be fully informed of medical risks and methods of abortion, possible psychological affects, risks of continuing with the pregnancy and information on the fetus such as the estimated age at the time an abortion is preformed.

Kendrick’s bill would waive the requirement for the women to know information about the fetus.

Kendrick said that the legislation is a direct response to a controversial heartbeat bill passed by the legislature last session that makes abortion illegal once a doctor can detect a fetus’ heartbeat.

Rep. Mable Thomas, D-Atlanta, has been leading the conversation on the state’s maternal mortality rates. Thomas prefiled legislation called the Georgia Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act that aims to reduce the possibility of implicit racial bias when women receive perinatal care.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis is asking the city commission to move forward on a parking plan for downtown, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Abbey Winters, wife of Chattooga County sole Commissioner Jason Winters, has been charged with assaulting a reporter with a beverage, according to the AJC.

Dalton City Council approved a $32.3 million dollar budget for FY 2020, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Three Rome County Commissioners participated in their last meeting, according to the Rome News Tribune.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 16, 2019

On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty, led by Patriot Sam Adams, boarded three British ships in Boston harbor and threw tea worth $700,000 to $1 million in today’s money into the water in what came to be known as the Boston Tea Party.

Boston Tea Party

Governor George Towns signed legislation on December 16, 1847 to build a State School for the Deaf and Dumb. The institution now known as the Georgia School for the Deaf was begun with a log cabin, $5000 from the legislature and four students and is still in operation in Cave Spring, Georgia.

On December 16, 1897, Gov. William Atkinson signed legislation recognizing June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, as a state holiday.

On December 16, 1944, a German counterattack in the Ardennes region of Belgium created a “bulge” in Allied lines with particularly difficult fighting near the town of Bastogne. During the Battle of the Bulge, 89,000 Americans were wounded and 19,000 killed in the bloodiest battle fought by the U.S. in World War II. National Geographic has an interesting article published for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle.

President Jimmy Carter announced on December 16, 1976, that he would name Andrew Young, then serving as Congressman from Georgia’s Fifth District, as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Quick, someone alert Governor Stacey Abrams! Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office is moving forward with a legally-mandated purge of inactive voters, according to the (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in October released a list of over 313,000 voters whose registrations were at risk of being cancelled, about 4% of the state’s total registered voters. Those voters were mailed notices in November and had 30 days to respond in order to keep their registration intact.

Walter Jones, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said the purge would take place overnight Monday into Tuesday. He said the exact number and names of voters removed wouldn’t be known until then and that more information would be made available after.

Voter purges in Georgia became a hot-button issue during last year’s race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, who won the race. Kemp served as secretary of state before being elected governor and oversaw some of the most aggressive voter purges in the country during his tenure. Over 1.4 million voter registrations were canceled in Georgia between 2012 and 2018.

“Accurate voter lists limit confusion and delays at polling places on Election Day, and make sure voters get the correct ballot,” Chris Harvey, elections director for the secretary of state’s office, has said previously. “Accurate registration lists also allow county election offices to plan for polling place equipment and staffing needs. Accurate voter lists reduce the opportunities for mistakes or fraud.”

In an alternate universe, Georgia’s other Governor, Brian Kemp proclaimed this December as North Atlantic Right Whale Awareness Month, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The North Atlantic right whale, a highly endangered species that spends the winter months in Georgia’s warm offshore waters, has been Georgia’s state marine mammal since 1985 after Delta pilots volunteering their time and private planes helped discover whales giving birth off the coast.

As the proclamation notes, “the right whale migrates from its feeding grounds in the North Atlantic to Georgia and North Florida coastlines to give birth to calves, meaning that Georgia’s ocean territory serves as a critical nursery habitat for vulnerable young and mother whales.”

Savannah resident Paulita Bennett-Martin, the Georgia campaign organizer for Oceana, acted as a required in-state sponsor for the proclamation, along with the Georgia Conservancy and several other local residents.

“It’s so important that North Atlantic right whales are getting recognition across the state. We commend Gov. Kemp’s proclamation, because it reminds us of how serious their struggle to survive is and how much work must be done to save them,” Bennett-Martin wrote in an email. “A lot of people are working across disciplines to see to a safe future for Georgia’s official state marine mammal, and recognizing this in the start to their calving season off our coast is a great thing — a real welcome home for the whales.”

Former Governor Nathan Deal will teach at University of North Georgia beginning in the next semester, according to AccessWDUN.

Former Gov. Nathan Deal will be teaching a political course at the University of North Georgia during the spring semester, which begins early next year.

Nathan Deal spoke several times to UNG classes this fall and as a Regents professor will teach a special topics course, “Politics in the Peach State,” in spring 2020.

“The excellent part of this course will be the opportunity to not only learn about Georgia politics from the former governor’s perspective but to hear from other important figures in Georgia state politics,” said Dlynn Williams, department head of Political Science and International Affairs at UNG. “This experience will greatly enhance the networking possibilities for UNG political science students.”

“It is a tremendous opportunity for our students not only to learn from the experiences former Gov. Deal can share from his long, successful career, but also to interact with him in a smaller classroom setting where they can ask questions and explore topics in-depth with him,” said Dr. Chaudron Gille, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at UNG.

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene has withdrawn from the campaign for the Sixth Congressional District and switched to running for the Fourteenth District, which is being vacated by Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger).

State Rep. Colton Moore (R-Trenton) is considering a campaign for the Fourteenth Congressional District, according to a Press Release.

Representative Colton Moore from Georgia District 1 announced that he is considering a run for the United States House of Representatives. Rep. Moore would be running for Georgia’s 14th Congressional House seat which is currently filled by Congressman Tom Graves. This comes from Rep. Moore as Congressman Graves recently announced he would not be seeking re-election.

“As a citizen of Northwest Georgia for 25 years, it has been a privilege to work in Atlanta for Dade and Walker Counties. Each day, we continue to execute our vision of a strong, open-minded voice for every person in District 1, no matter the issue. I believe our next Member of Congress must be able to deliver this same boldness and I felt the time was right to explore this great honor,” said Rep. Colton Moore.

In 2018, Rep. Moore soundly defeated six-year incumbent, former Representative John Defenbaugh from Lookout Mountain, Georgia. According to the Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensburger, Rep. Colton Moore won 54% of the vote with just 10% of Defenbaugh’s campaign budget.

Outside of politics Rep. Moore is an expert auctioneer. He regularly travels to Europe, Japan, the Philippines and across the United States to deliver his chant for farmers, heavy-equipment dealers and charities. He was the Georgia Auctioneer Champion in 2016 and was a finalist at the International Auctioneer Championship in 2016 and 2017.

“If our community believes this is the right next step, it would be my job to find a fearless Representative to continue moving District 1 forward. Someone like Dr. David Bosshart of Walker County, I believe, could do very well for us in this position. Only then would it be possible to take part in the incredible honor of expanding our freedoms and economic progress in Washington with one of the greatest visionaries our country has even seen, President Donald Trump,” Moore concluded.

The Rome News Tribune writes about local legislators’ involvement with study committees ahead of the next legislative session.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, chairs the Senate Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Physician Assistants and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.

They’re looking at loosening restrictions on PAs and APRNs — such as nurse practitioners and nurse midwives — with an eye to expanding access to medical care. The committee meeting, set for 2 p.m. Tuesday in the State Capitol, will be livestreamed through the Senate website.

Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, is finishing his third year on the House Rural Development Council, an ongoing initiative to increase opportunities in the less-populated areas of the state.

The Cherokee County Board of Education opposes legislation that creates vouchers for parents of students eligible to attend public schools, according to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News.

The board voted unanimously to adopt the Georgia Education Coalition’s 2020 legislative priorities, which are closely aligned with the board’s own priorities and include opposition to any state legislation that takes money away from local school districts in the form of vouchers or tax credits to pay for private school tuition and other educational programs.

School Board Chairwoman Kyla Cromer spoke against voucher bills, referencing the Georgia Educational Scholarship Act sponsored by state Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock). House Bill 301 and Senate Bill 173 would use state general fund money allocated for local school districts to establish “education scholarship accounts” for parents to pay for expenses including private school and college tuition, textbooks and online courses. The bill was introduced in the House last February and has not come to a vote there; in the Senate, the bill failed to get majority votes in March.

Cantrell said in an email to the Tribune that the bill is designed to give parents options when their child isn’t succeeding in the public school assigned to them.

“The purpose of the bill is to provide educational choice for that small percentage of students who are not performing well in the public schools they are districted for. One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to education. The Act would allow parents some flexibility in using their tax dollars for an educational program that could be more strategically designed for the specific needs of their child,” he said.

The Bulloch County Board of Education will not propose property tax relief for seniors, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Bulloch County Board of Education is not sending forward any proposal for a 2020 referendum to create a local school-funding property tax exemption for senior citizens.

Back in July, a group of about 80 people, most of them age 60 and up, met with state Rep. Jan Tankersley, R-Brooklet, who told them an exemption request would need to come from the local school board in time to be acted on by the Georgia General Assembly in its January-March session if it was to be returned to local voters in a referendum next year. Spokespersons for the seniors group then spoke to the school board in August, but so did a number of citizens opposed to creating such an exemption. The board had its own discussion in September.

“At this point, I am not going to recommend an additional exemption, a seniors’ tax exemption,” [Bulloch County Superintendent of Schools Charles] Wilson said. “That’s from me as the superintendent, based on what I have and the information I’ve received back. I’d respect it if, as a board, you wanted to make a recommendation otherwise, but at this point I do not believe it is appropriate that the superintendent make a recommendation.”

The Macon Telegraph reports that more than 100 local businesses could lose their liquor licenses after a change to the local alcohol ordinance.

More than 100 Macon businesses are in jeopardy of losing their alcohol licenses as of Jan. 1 unless the law is changed.

The Macon-Bibb County Commission amended the alcohol code last year and set the license expiration date as Dec. 31 to align with the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Applicants can apply as early as Sept. 1, but as of Dec. 6, only 270 of the approximate 400 establishments which sell alcohol in containers or by the drink have applied for renewal, said Bibb County Commissioner Virgil Watkins. That means about a third of the county’s businesses might not be able to serve or sell after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

The 2018 change in the code also eliminated the grace period of up to 90 days that would allow businesses to continue to sell alcohol before the license is pulled.

Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly has resigned ahead of a recall election, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District voted for a license plate reader system, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The board of directors for the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District announced a multi-year partnership with Flock Safety this past week to install a “large number” of automatic license plate reading cameras in 2020 with the option to add more.

“We exist for our businesses to flourish,” CID Board Chairman Leo Wiener said. “And that’s possible thanks to partnerships with the Gwinnett County Police Department and investment in crime-fighting technology like Flock Safety.”

Flock Safety is an Atlanta-based company that was started by Georgia Tech graduates in 2017. Its automatic license plate reading — or ALPR — camera system is the only one built specifically for neighborhoods, businesses and law enforcement, according to the CID.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 13, 2019

On December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court organized three regiments of militia to guard against attacks by the Pequot Indians. That day is recognized as the birth of the National Guard.

Solomon’s Masonic Lodge, the first in Georgia, was organized on December 10, 1735. Upon his return to the colony, James Oglethorpe would join the group.

Patriots captured liberated Virginia on December 9, 1775 as militias from Virginia and North Carolina defeated the redcoats at Great Bridge.

On December 11, 1777, during their movement to Valley Forge for the winter, Washington’s colonial forces engaged British troops under General Cornwallis as the Americans were crossing the Schuylkill River.

John Jay was elected President of the Continental Congress on December 10, 1778.

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution on December 12, 1787.

On December 15, 1791, Virginia ratified the Bill of Rights, giving the first ten Amendments a three-quarter majority required to become law.

President George Washington died at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. Here’s an article about the nation’s mourning for our first President.

The Congress, in session at the capital of Philadelphia when Washington’s death was announced, immediately adjourned. The House of Representatives assembled the next day and resolved to shroud the Speaker’s chair in black and have members wear black during the remainder of the session. On December 23, John Marshall speaking for the joint committee of both houses, presented five points that became the foundation for the United States’ first “state” funeral. Resolutions structured mourning events around public commemorations that fostered unity and a sense of national identity among grieving Americans.

Indiana became the 19th State on December 11, 1816.

Emory College was incorporated on December 10, 1836, as Governor William Schley signed legislation chartering the school.

Governor Charles McDonald signed legislation on December 11, 1841 to prevent a person from having his or her testimony excluded in court because of the individual’s religious beliefs.

The first use of nitrous oxide as a dental anesthetic took place on December 11, 1844.

On December 10, 1850, a special convention met in Milledgeville to determine the state’s reaction to the Compromise of 1850, a series of five bills passed in Congress attempting to deal with issues between slave states and free states.

The [Georgia] platform established Georgia’s conditional acceptance of the Compromise of 1850. Much of the document followed a draft written by Charles Jones Jenkins and represented a collaboration between Georgia Whigs and moderate Democrats dedicated to preserving the Union. In effect, the proclamation accepted the measures of the compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and would no longer attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. Northern contempt for these conditions, the platform warned, would make secession inevitable.

This qualified endorsement of the Compromise of 1850 essentially undermined the movement for immediate secession throughout the South. Newspapers across the nation credited Georgia with saving the Union.

Echols County, Georgia was created by the Georgia General Assembly on December 13, 1858.

On December 15, 1859, Georgia Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation outlawing public execution of criminals. The previous day he signed legislation prohibiting slave owners from freeing their slaves on the owner’s death.

On December 9, 1867, a Constitutional Convention to draft a new state document convened in Atlanta. Among the 166 to 169 delegates elected to the Constitutional Convention were 33 or 37 African-American members – accounts vary.

The Atlanta City Council appointed the first Board of Education on December 10, 1869.

On December 11, 1872, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback took office in Louisiana as the first black Governor in the United States.

A memorial service for Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America, was held in the Georgia State Capitol on December 11, 1889 while his funeral was that day in New Orleans.

The Spanish-American War was ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

President William McKinley addressed the Georgia General Assembly on December 14, 1898.


McKinley Atlanta SM

Guglielmo Marconi completed the first transatlantic radio transmission from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland on December 12, 1901.

On December 14, 1939, a parade was held through downtown Atlanta with stars from Gone With the Wind and the Junior League held a ball that night. The next day, December 15, 1939, Gone With the Wind held its world premiere at Loew’s Grand Theater in Atlanta.

On December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States.

Dickey Betts, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, was born on December 12, 1943.

On December 11, 1960, a civil rights demonstration including 8000 African-American citizens was held in Atlanta as part of the movement to boycott stores that remained segregated.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964 in Oslo, Norway, becoming the youngest recipient of the award.

The Libertarian Party was founded on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Jimmy Carter announced he would run for President of the United States on December 12, 1974.

Former Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall died on December 13, 1992. Arnall served in the State House, as Speaker, Attorney General, and in 1942 at the age of 35, was elected Governor.

Arnall also led the fight to outlaw the poll tax and the white primary, and is noted for making Georgia the first state to allow 18-year-olds to vote. He is further remembered for his role in obtaining a new state constitution for Georgia in 1945.

The United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee released a report on December 15, 1998 that recommended impeachment against President Bill Clinton and introduced H.Res. 611.

The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore on December 12, 2000, stopping manual recounts of contested ballots in Florida.

Al Gore conceded the presidential election to George W. Bush on December 13, 2000.

Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2002.

On December 15, 2016, Republican Tim Echols was sworn in by Gov. Nathan Deal to a second term on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency for Fulton County due to flooding at Grady.  Click here to read the Executive Order.

The AJC reports this morning that Grady will start accepting some emergency patients today after having gone on diversion because of the flooding.

Grady will admit trauma, stroke and burn patients starting at 7 a.m., hospital spokeswoman Denise Simpson said in a statement.

Emergency patients have been diverted to other hospitals since a 2-foot water pipe burst Saturday afternoon, flooding several floors of the building.

“By phasing off diversion and opening our doors to trauma, stroke and burn patients, Grady will again be able to provide the critical services other hospitals and the community rely on Grady for,” Simpson said. “We hope to relieve some of the burden experienced by other metro Atlanta hospitals during our current facility crisis.”

Grady advertises itself as the busiest trauma center on the East Coast, and the influx of emergency patients to other hospitals has put a strain on the resources of such facilities as Emory and Piedmont.

Emory Healthcare said Tuesday that its Midtown location went into diversion mode because of the high volume of patients from Grady.

Governor Kemp also issued a Writ of Election ordering a January 28, 2020 Special Election for House District 171, which was vacated by the death of State Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla). From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the special election will be held on Jan. 28 for the district. If needed, a runoff will be held on Feb. 25. House District 171 includes parts of Colquitt, Decatur and Mitchell counties.

To qualify for the special election, candidates must pay a $400 fee to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office in Atlanta. Qualifying is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 16 and 17 and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 18.

Dec. 30 is the last day to register to vote in the special election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Gov. Kemp will be deposed by Stacey Abrams-backed Fair Fight Action over the 2018 elections, according to 11Alive.

Gov. Brian Kemp will face questioning under oath by lawyers linked to his 2018 Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams. A federal judge issued the ruling as part of a lawsuit filed by a voting rights group.

The lawsuit claimed Kemp, as Secretary of State, violated the constitution by purging the names of inactive voters, making them ineligible to vote.

The court quotes Kemp in 2014 saying “you know the Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that they can win these elections in November. But we’ve got to do the exact same thing.”

The ruling allows Fair Fight’s attorneys to question Kemp about what he meant by saying that, and whether he intended to suppress minority voters as the suit alleges.

Former Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Evans will run to return to the State House, this time in a different district than she previously represented. From Facebook:

Stacey Evans State House

From the AJC:

Democrat Stacey Evans will run for an open seat in the Georgia Legislature a year after she waged an unsuccessful campaign for governor, saying the Republican push for anti-abortion restrictions helped convince her to return to elected politics.

Evans told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she’ll seek the seat held by retiring state Rep. Pat Gardner, a heavily Democratic-district in Atlanta. Evans moved from Smyrna to Atlanta shortly after Stacey Abrams defeated her in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.

“I have been watching what’s going on in the state and around the country and I have too much experience to sit on the sidelines during this critical time,” said Evans, an attorney. “And the heartbeat bill was the No. 1 factor. That was the worst thing that’s happened under the Gold Dome since I left.”

She has no known primary opponent for the seat held since 2001 by Gardner, who told supporters last week that “after the 2018 campaign and especially after the contentious 2019 session, I knew it was time to move on to new endeavors.”

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene might switch her Congressional campaign to the 14th Congressional District, according to the AJC:

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene appears on the verge of dropping out of the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District – and competing instead for the soon-to-be-vacated seat two districts over.

The political newcomer told grassroots activists at a GOP breakfast over the weekend that her “phone started ringing off the hook” after U.S. Rep. Tom Graves abruptly announced last week that he wouldn’t stand for another term.

“Then I started getting phone calls from the most conservative members in the House Freedom Caucus. Debbie Meadows – Mark Meadows’ wife — Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs,” she said, invoking members of that conservative group.

Greene, an executive with a construction company who lives in north Fulton, was a longshot contender to challenge Democrat Lucy McBath in the 6th District, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb counties.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Local Republicans are not ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet.

“We think Ms. Greene is a good candidate. We just prefer someone from Floyd County, or at least the 14th District,” said Luke Martin, who chairs the Floyd County Republican Party.

Martin said Monday he’s talked to several other party chairs in the counties that make up the heavily Republican district and they’ve expressed the same reservations.

“We like her as a candidate. We just like her in the district where she lives,” Martin said.

Democrat Sara Tindall Ghazal will run for House District 45, currently held by Republican Matt Dollar, according to the AJC.

The head of the state Democratic Party’s voter protection initiative is seeking elected office for the first time, running for a Marietta-based Georgia House seat long held by a Republican lawmaker.

Sara Tindall Ghazal said Thursday she’ll put voting rights at the center of her campaign against state Rep. Matt Dollar, arguing that “we need to fix our elections so we can fix our government.”

But she’ll also emphasize support for new school funding, a call to expand Medicaid and opposition to a stalled push by Dollar to create a city of East Cobb, which she casts as an unpopular effort plugged by local developers.

The state Democratic party was the only in the nation to hire a full-time “voter protection” director when it hired Ghazal in 2018. She was deeply involved in the party’s voting rights initiatives last year, including litigation challenging then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s policies.

Henry County Commissioner Johnny Wilson announced he will run for reelection in 2020, according to

Commissioner Wilson was first elected in 2016 after retiring as a Henry County firefighter. Johnny described first deciding to run when some of his colleagues from the fire department knocked on his front door encouraging him to do so.

The commissioner’s platform in 2016 included improving public safety, addressing what he calls priority spending, and relieving traffic congestion through roadway improvements. If re-elected, he looks to continue many of the same initiatives.

Commissioner Wilson spoke about the class and compensation study, raising salaries of county employees to remain competitive with surrounding communities, and equipment investments. “We have bought in the neighborhood of ten to fifteen million dollars in equipment,” said Johnny, “a couple months back, we purchased seventy police cars.”

Wilson continued, “we have done this without raising the millage rate. The millage rate remains 12.733.” Henry County was recently named one of six counties in the state with a AAA bond rating, a testament to the county’s stability and healthy financial position.

Columbus area businessman Bob Wright still wants to build a $200 million dollar casino, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Bob Wright told a state committee he still intends to develop an “upscale destination resort” along the Chattahoochee River in south Columbus.

In 2016, Wright told the Ledger-Enquirer he wanted to bring a $200 million resort casino to the city should gambling be legalized. Legislation that would have started that process did not make it through the Georgia General Assembly in 2017, and efforts to revive the bill are likely to continue into 2020.

His announcement came as the Georgia House Special Committee on Economic Growth held a public hearing Wednesday at the City Services Center on Macon Road as part of a statewide listening tour to gather input from constituents.

Wright said he wants to bring the casino to south Columbus because it is an area that “needs a lot of help” in terms of housing and jobs.

“It really needs an economic catalyst to really turn that part of our city around,” Wright said. “We think the economic impact of a destination resort will have a tremendous effect on Columbus and our city as well as contribute to the HOPE Scholarship and other needs…”

The Center Square writes more about the Georgia House Special Committee on Economic Growth hearings.

The members of the Special Committee on Economic Growth have been deliberating over the financial benefits if gambling is legalized in Georgia.

About 21 states have taken legislative action since the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 lifted a federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada. The 11-member committee was created in the 2019 legislative session to offer recommendations during the next session, which starts in January 2020.

A constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters before any plans could be initiated.

Some residents want to make sure that their communities would not be left out of the economic benefits. Those opposed to gambling called the plans “immoral.” Other residents fear gentrification.

From WABE:

The promise of increased revenue has led state lawmakers to consider again making gambling legal in the state of Georgia.

Casino owners and even Atlanta’s pro sports teams are among those in support. Gaming that includes resort casinos, horse tracks and sports betting could, by some studies, bring in billions of dollars in revenue for the state.

Mike Griffin is with Georgia Baptist Mission Board. He says supporters of gambling are using “smoke and mirrors” to make it more palatable.

“We’ve got to call it, you know, some kind of rural development economic plan, we’ve got to call it ‘destination resort,’” Griffin said, referring to casinos that have hotels and entertainment venues connected to them.

The State House Health & Human Services Committee heard information about vaping, according to the Center Square.

After a string of vaping-related deaths and illnesses, the Trump Administration announced a plan in September to ban flavored vaping products because of their appeal to teenagers. The White House later rolled back the proposal after health officials determined most of the deaths were caused by tainted vapes with THC obtained on the black market.

But Georgia lawmakers have considered implementing a statewide ban.

Many presenters in Wednesday’s meeting said that tougher vaping regulations could reverse the positive impacts of the alternative to cigarette smoking.

At least 48 vaping-related or e-cigarette deaths have been reported in the U.S. this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s December report. Three of those deaths occurred in Georgia. In addition, 16 percent of vaping-related illnesses nationwide have been found in patients between 13 and 17 years old.

A State House Study Committee is looking at statewide preemption of local building requirements, according to the Georgia Recorder.

The workforce housing committee’s final report essentially revives a controversial bill that earlier this year pitted many cities and county governments against home builders, realtors and the construction industry.

The committee approved a report Thursday that says developers are more likely to build homes that attract people who might be priced out of most houses in that area if local governments prohibit the use of lower cost materials.

At play is whether a local government can regulate everything from a home’s exterior color, the amount of square footage, the amount of vinyl siding, or whether a home can be built on a concrete slab.

While this year’s legislation had bipartisan support, it also drew strong opposition from legislators. Opponents are again expected to try to fend off House Bill 302, which remains alive for the 2020 legislative session.

Jim Cleveland resigned his seat on Hoschton City Council while facing a recall election, according to the AJC.

Embattled Hoschton City Councilman Jim Cleveland resigned Tuesday, telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he‘d rather leave office on his own terms than face voters in a recall election next month.

“I’m not going to give them the pleasure of saying they recalled Mr. Cleveland,” he said in an exclusive interview.

Cleveland repeated his racial beliefs as one resident recorded the exchange on her phone.

“I’m not racist, but I do not believe in interracial marriage,” he said.

Oil removal from the capsized M/V Golden Ray has been finished, according to The Brunswick News.

Two and half months and some 320,000 gallons later, officials on Thursday expressed confidence that they have removed every drop possible of oil and gas pollutants from the shipwrecked Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound.

After pumping all oil from the tanks, workers went inside the tanks and steam-cleaned the interiors. Residual fuel from this process was collected and removed as well. The process addressed 26 tanks, containing heavy bunker oil, marine diesel gas and marine gas oil.

Two tanks, one containing heavy bunker oil and another containing diesel fuel, could not be completely cleaned because they lay under water on the ship’s submerged port side, said Coast Guard Lt. Commander Matt Waller. Workers used skimmers to remove the fuel that floated atop the water in those tanks, he said.

Unified Command is still working to complete plans to build an environmental protection barrier around the ship, in preparation of cutting it into pieces for removal. Those plans will be made public as soon as they are finalized, Unified Command said. Thursday marked the 96th day the gargantuan ship has sat half-submerged in the sound, just south of the federal shipping channel that serves the Port of Brunswick.

Right whales have been spotted off the coast of Georgia again this year, according to The Brunswick News.

[R]esearchers saw Naevus off Georgia. She’s nearly 30 years old, first spotted as a calf back up north in Cape Cod Bay in May 1990. She’s also been photographed with her own calves at least four times — once in December 2004, then in January 2011 and December 2013 and again with that same third calf in June 2014.

Her last sighting in the southern calving waters was in the 2013-14 season, as she arrived off Georgia around Dec. 17, 2013, and last seen off Florida on Feb. 16, 2014. The whales’ arrivals come during a critical series of years for the species.

Researchers found three of the whales spotted recently — Arpeggio, Harmony and Slalom — off South Carolina, so they could be nearby at any time.

Arpeggio is 22 years old, first seen off Georgia in February 1997. Harmony is 18, seen first around Florida in January 2001, and Slalom is the oldest right whale spotted so far, as she’s 37 years old and first recorded as a calf in the Bay of Fundy in August 1982.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 6, 2019

On December 7, 1801, Georgia’s United States Senator Abraham Baldwin was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate.

On December 6, 1847, Dr. William White spoke to a group of Atlanta residents about a proposal to move the state capital to Atlanta and was met with cheers.

President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863.

First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders.

Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865, when Georgia ratified the Amendment outlawing slavery.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884.

On December 8, 1899, Georgia Governor Allen Candler signed legislation to levy a tax on all dogs older than four months.

On December 6, 1932, the legislation repealing Prohibition was introduced by Senator John Blaine of Wisconsin. It was ratified on December 5, 1933. Georgia never took action on the Amendment.

Saturday is the 78th anniversary of the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

GeorgiaInfo has the reactions of Georgia leaders to the Pearl Harbor attack,

U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: “Japan’s deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable… . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action.” Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that “it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end.”

U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: “Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded.”

U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: “Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans.”

In 2017, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Joseph L. George, a Georgian, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V device for valor for his actions aboard USS Vestal at Pearl Harbor.

George, a second class petty officer at the time, saved the lives of several sailors from the battleship USS Arizona. He survived the war and retired from the Navy in 1955 but passed away in 1996.

The Bronze Star Medal will be presented by Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, to George’s daughter, Joe Ann Taylor, today during a 4:30 p.m. (Hawaii-Aleutian time) ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

“The presentation of the medals is not only appropriate but simply the right thing to do,” Spencer said in a release sent out by the Navy. “One of my highest priorities is to honor the service and sacrifice of our sailors, Marines, civilians, and family members. It is clear that Lt. (Aloysious H.) Schmitt and Chief George are heroes whose service and sacrifice will stand as an example for current and future service members.”

In addition to George’s Bronze Star, the secretary also awarded the Silver Star Medal to Lt. j.g. Schmitt for action at Pearl Harbor while serving on the battleship USS Oklahoma.

The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941. Montana Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin, the first female elected to the United States House of Representatives, cast the sole dissenting vote.

On December 7, 1946, the Winecoff Hotel in downtown Atlanta, previously considered fireproof, burned in the worst hotel fire to date.

Gregg Allman was born December 8, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The first time I ever saw Kelly Loeffler, now known as Governor Brian Kemp’s appointee to the United States Senate, was December 17, 2012 in the Georgia State Capitol, where Republican Presidential Electors gathered to formally cast Georgia’s electoral votes for Mitt Romney for President.


I remember her, because she was the only Presidential Elector I didn’t know personally or at least recognize. Several weeks later, I met her and her husband, who introduced himself as “Jeff” at an event hosted by the Fulton County Republican Party. Here are a couple of other photos from that day.

Electors Badges 2012

For a political nerd, seeing people I know, duly elected as members of the Electoral College and casting their vote for the Republican candidate, just like we learned about in civics was an experience I’ll never forget.

Electors Desk 2012

For those who are criticizing Kelly Loeffler for not having been involved in the GOP or for having supported Mitt Romney for President, take another look at that slate of electors. I think that all factions of the Georgia GOP were represented, including the Tea Party movement, and I’m not aware of any of them having been disappointed to be casting their votes for Mitt Romney.

Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger) yesterday announced he will not run for reelection, according to Politico.

Rep. Tom Graves announced Thursday he will not seek reelection in 2020, joining the growing ranks of House Republicans heading for the exits in the current election cycle.

Citing “a new season in life,” Graves said he will join his family members “in their new and unique journeys” as his wife nears retirement and his three children enter adulthood.

The 49-year-old Georgian will have served in Congress for more than a decade once he finishes his current term and becomes the 21st House Republican to announce intentions to depart this Congress, in contrast to nine House Democrats.

Graves was considered as a pick for filling the Senate seat Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is vacating midterm this month. While Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp formally chose businesswoman Kelly Loeffler this week for that post, Graves could be a contender for the Senate seat in the years to come.

While President Donald Trump handily won Graves’ district in 2016, the congressman snubbed the now-president as Trump aspired to become the Republican Party’s nominee.

“I have trouble seeing how he lines up with the great tradition of Lincoln and Reagan, and I’m concerned that many of his statements run afoul of the Constitution, my values and my beliefs,” Graves said in a letter to his supporters during the Georgia Republican presidential primary in 2016. “Then there’s a simpler test: would I be comfortable if my three children acted like Trump? Certainly not.”

From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

The 14th Congressional District “is a very conservative district, and we want to keep it that way, (so) we’ll be looking for those conservative qualities” in a successor for Graves, [Whitfield County Republican Party Chair Diane] Putnam said. She expects several candidates to come forward, but she already has one name in mind, and he’ll be the keynote speaker at the Whitfield County GOP’s Christmas dinner meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Dalton Convention Center.

Allen Poole, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, is a former state trooper, and he was the Haralson County Commission chairman and chief executive officer in Haralson County, Putnam said. “He’s come up through the party ranks the right way.”

Those interested in hearing Poole speak can RSVP to Tuesday’s event by contacting Putnam at (706) 217-5929, she said. ““We want the grassroots people to get out and be excited, because (2020) is going to be a very busy campaign year, and we need to get started.”

Indeed, “getting started early is important,” [Dalton State College Political Science senior lecturer David] Veve said, which is why he believes potential successors for Graves will begin to emerge as soon as next month.

Chuck Payne, who represents the 54th District in the state Senate and resides in Dalton, “is well-liked in the community,” Chickamauga’s Jeff Mullis, who represents the 53rd District in the state Senate, “is well-connected in north Georgia and has a pretty impressive resume,” and “a lot of people in the community speak highly of” Carpenter, Veve said. “I think the Republican primary will be the real race.”

Republican strategist Chip Lake also announced he’s leaving government service to spend more time on the golf course return to the private sector. From the AJC:

Veteran Republican strategist Chip Lake abruptly announced Wednesday he was leaving his post as Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s top adviser to return to the private sector.

The details of his departure are murky, but his announcement caught many at the statehouse off guard. Several senators were under the impression that he agreed to stay on through the next legislative session.

[Lt. Gov. Geoff] Duncan called Lake a “once in a generation political mind” and thanked him for counsel that helped him win an underdog campaign for Georgia’s No. 2 job.

“As his work of establishing a strong organizational foundation in the office concludes, I have no doubt he will continue to be enormously successful in the private sector and wish him and his family all the best,” he said.

In a statement, Lake said it was the “honor of a lifetime” to serve as Duncan’s chief of staff, but he didn’t respond to requests for more comment.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 5, 2019

On December 5, 1887, Georgia voters approved a new State Constitution and voted to keep the state capital in Atlanta instead of moving it back to Milledgeville.

On December 5, 1933, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment and ending prohibition. Earlier that day, Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified the Amendment.

On December 5, 2000, the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou was released.

On December 5, 2006, Republican Chuck Eaton won the General Election Runoff for Public Service Commission District 3, beating incumbent Democrat David Burgess. Total votes cast: 215,092.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Click here for the statements of statewide elected officials and members of Congress in support of Kelly Loeffler’s appointment to the United States Senate.

The AJC has more reactions.

Politico reports that Senator-designate Loeffler will spend up to $20 million dollars of her own money.

Soon-to-be Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler plans to spend $20 million of her own money on her 2020 Senate campaign in Georgia — a massive sum that could give potential rivals pause about trying to unseat her.

She has told advisers in recent days of her intentions to tap her vast fortune to win next year’s special election to complete Isakson’s term, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision.

Loeffler will not solely rely on self-financing, however. Those close to her say she also intends to raise money from donors.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) has said he would consider a Senate bid in the event Gov. Brian Kemp passed him over for the appointment. But Loeffer’s personal investment could factor significantly into his decision — as well as those of Democrats considering challenging her.

Loeffler’s $20 million injection also takes financial pressure off the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is supporting her. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Tuesday that Loeffler would have the full backing of the party infrastructure, and he expected her to enjoy “total support from the Republican conference.”

From WSB-TV:

Loeffler will have to run in 2020 to fill out the remainder of Isakson’s term. If Collins decides to run against her, Democrats think it could split the Republican vote and make it easier for their candidate to win.

“I think it’s an absolutely great opportunity for one strong Democratic candidate to come through and win the election in 2020, possibly without a runoff,” said South Fulton Lawmaker William Boddie.

Boddie and Cobb County Senator Jen Jordan both point out that 2020 will be what’s called a “jungle election,” meaning Republicans and Democrats will all run together in one primary.

They think that if Collins and Loeffler split the Republican vote, then a strong Democratic candidate could win the senate seat.

“And I think all it’s going to do for us is open up an opportunity to show people that we care about the issues, and they can take their side battles and their fight on Twitter to the side while we try and get things done,” Jordan said.

Sally Quillian Yates, former Former Acting U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, repeated her assertion that she will not run for the Senate in 2020, according to the AJC.

“Why won’t you run? They love you, they need you, you’re a person of high integrity, you’re a great public servant, you would easily win,” he said, prodding her once more. “Why won’t you just do it?”

Said Yates: “Running for Senate, that’s just not something that’s ever really felt like me. I really am incredibly flattered by your support. We’ve got some great people that are running …

Bharara: “But they’re not you.”

Yates: “Well, but they’re terrific folks. I just don’t think that’s the thing for me.”

One of the best statements I’ve read was posted on Facebook by State Rep. Susan Holmes (R-Monticello).

Please get to know Kelly Loeffler. Yesterday I was with her and heard her make her acceptance speech and then take random questions from the press. Kelly grew up on a farm in Illinois, was very active in 4-H, worked her way through college, worked hard and is now living the American Dream. She is a devout Christian, active Republican, huge pro-life advocate and arch conservative.

Because of her appointment, we are fortunate to have both Doug Collins and Kelly Loeffler representing us in DC. Neither President Trump nor Senator David Purdue had any political experience and they have done a fine job. Please reserve your opinions until you get to know the real Kelly Loeffler.

So, for all of my friends, I’d invite you to join me in the group of rational adults who is willing to give Kelly Loeffler a chance to prove herself, and give Governor Brian Kemp the benefit of the doubt.

When you read headlines about Gov. Kemp “defying” President Trump, take it with a grain of salt and with the understanding that many in the leftist mainstream media see this as a two-fer. They get to write headlines about how a Republican Governor is defying the President, and also sow seeds of discord withing the Georgia Republican electorate.

David Emadi, head of the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, discussed allegations against a Stacey Abrams-connected organization, according to the AJC.

The state ethics commission’s director told the panel Wednesday that a voting advocacy nonprofit connected to Stacey Abrams acted as a political committee during the 2018 elections and should have both registered with the state and reported how much it raised and spent.

David Emadi, the executive director of the commission, also raised questions about whether the New Georgia Project Action Fund — which is affiliated with another nonprofit Abrams founded but no longer leads, the New Georgia Project — illegally coordinated with her campaign.

Emadi said the investigation of Abrams’ campaign and groups that backed her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 is ongoing and that he had not yet determined whether coordination between the organizations occurred. Under state law, so-called “independent” committees can work to help get people elected but are not allowed to coordinate their activities with a candidate.

The new details about Emadi’s investigation became public during a commission meeting in which lawyers for the New Georgia Project and the New Georgia Project Action Fund asked the panel to quash subpoenas for records including insurance policies, bank statements and campaign materials.

The commissioners rejected the request, and the commission’s chairman, Jake Evans, said there was enough evidence to suggest the groups may have violated campaign finance laws.

The Commission also declined to quash subpoenas related to the Cobb County Sheriff, according to the AJC.

Albany‘s municipal leadership will look different when newly-elected officials take office, according to the Albany Herald.

With the settling of the dust from three Albany municipal elections, the end result is that nearly half of the city’s government will be composed of new faces next year.

One of those was settled in November, with the victory of Chad Warbington in the Albany City Commission Ward IV race over incumbent Roger Marietta. In Ward VI, voters knew there would be a new city commissioner as incumbent Tommie Postell elected not to seek another term.

But on Tuesday, the third of those new players emerged when Albany attorney Kermit “Bo” Dorough won a runoff election against incumbent Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.

Doraville elected Joseph Geierman as the new Mayor, according to Project Q.

Joseph Geierman beat incumbent Mayor Donna Pittman by 30 points in Doraville, according to the DeKalb County Elections Office. Geierman beat Pittman by 11 points in the November general election but did not get at least 50 percent of the vote, forcing Tuesday’s runoff.

“Ultimately what I think it says is the people of Doraville were ready for change and I’m glad that they believed in my vision for the city,” Geierman said.

Joy Peterson won election to the Warner Robins City Council, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Statesboro City Council adopted an ordinance creating a tax on blighted properties, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro City Council unanimously adopted a “blight tax” ordinance Tuesday. But its future was immediately placed in doubt when Mayor Jonathan McCollar announced he would reduce the penalty portion of the program from a seven-fold tax to 1% of the regular millage rate.

The penalty tax would be the first phase of a tax incentive program that also includes a later, reduced tax rate for owners who repair or remove dilapidated buildings or otherwise clean up their properties to city standards.

The Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce unveiled its 2020 agenda for local elected officials, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Securing state funding for the expansion of the Savannah Convention Center topped the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 State Legislative Agenda, which was presented on Wednesday during the organization’s annual Eggs and Issues Legislative Breakfast at the Marriott Savannah Riverfront.

“Our goal is to always work with our business community, our delegation and other chambers of commerce to help keep Georgia as the No. 1 state to do business,” said Jon Pannell, the chamber’s Governmental Affairs Council chairman.

State Rep. Ron Stephens said along with fully funding the HOPE Scholarship, the center’s expansion remains of the utmost importance to him as the session approaches.

“It’s been a priority now for a while, but this will be the largest funded project that the state, as far as I know, has ever done if we can get it done,” he said.

The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce also heard from local legislators, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

State tax revenue is flatlining, state Sen. Bill Cowsert, told Athens Area Chamber of Commerce members on Wednesday.

“We’re not certain where that is coming from,” Cowsert said, noting the economy remains strong.

That’s why Gov. Brian Kemp is calling for spending cuts next year, likely to be one of the main themes when Georgia’s Legislature convenes in Atlanta next month.

Four other legislators who represent portions of Clarke County joined Cowsert at the annual event. They were Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, whose District 47 includes a small part of Clarke County; Rep. Marcus Wiedower, R-Watkinsville; Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens; and Rep. Spencer Frye, D-Athens.

Chatham County will shoulder $1.6 million dollars in expenses for cleanup from Hurricane Dorian, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County Commissioners will consider how to pay for over $1.6 million in evacuation expenses left over from Hurricane Dorian in September now that Georgia and federal agencies have denied payment.

“On September 1, 2019, Chatham County was under a Hurricane Watch and a mandatory evacuation order was issued by the Governor of Georgia,” the finance director memo states. “CEMA [Chatham Emergency Management Agency] enacted related emergency preparation activities and evacuation protocols for Chatham County resulting in expenditures of $1,662,226.”

During the commissioners’ Sept. 13 meeting, Chairman Al Scott mentioned the possibility that state and federal officials might not reimburse Chatham County coffers for Dorian-related expenses.

According to the memo from Davis, state and federal officials have indeed left Chatham County taxpayers to foot the bill for all hurricane-related expenses.

“No federal or state funds have been allocated to cover costs of these emergency operations,” the memo states. “The finance director therefore requests board approval to appropriate fund balance/net assets to cover the cost of these operations.”

State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Cobb) proposes expanding Medicaid coverage to some Georgia women, according to the Georgia Recorder.

State Rep. Sharon Cooper, a Marietta Republican, said Tuesday that she has been “battering” the governor’s office and other state leaders about allowing women to retain Medicaid coverage for as long as one year after giving birth. Currently, coverage is cut off two months after the pregnancy ends.

“We are trying to get that extension,” Cooper said at a meeting of a House study panel focused on Georgia’s high rates of maternal deaths. “I feel like I’m making some progress … but you have people pulling for 50,000 other things – for children, for people who have brain injuries and everything else.”

Cooper called the proposal a priority for her. Her study committee hasn’t yet drafted recommendations ahead of the new legislative session, but she said afterwards that extending Medicaid could be among them.

The chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee said afterwards that she thought the cost of stretching out coverage to six months or as long as a year after delivery would be minimal in the big picture. But adding any new expense may prove a tough sell at a time when the governor is ordering nearly all departments to cut spending.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 4, 2019

On December 4, 1783, General George Washington told his officers he would resign his commission and return to his life at Mount Vernon.

The Battle of Waynesboro, Georgia was fought between Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry and Kilpatrick’s federal troops on December 4, 1864.

Governor William Northen signed legislation placing on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment to increase the number of Georgia Supreme Court Justices from 3 to 5 on December 4, 1893.

On December 4, 1932, a 12-foot tall statue of Tom Watson, former state legislator, Congressman, and United States Senator from Georgia, was placed on the State Capitol Grounds.

On December 4, 1945, the United States Senate voted to approve full U.S. participation in the United Nations. Georgia’s Senators voted in favor.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp is expected to name Kelly Loeffler as his appointee to the United States Senate. From the Associated Press:

Georgia’s governor is expected to appoint a wealthy business executive to replace an outgoing U.S. senator, according to a GOP political consultant, bypassing President Donald Trump’s preferred pick and betting instead that a moderate woman can garner enough support to hold onto the seat next year.

Brian Kemp’s choice of Kelly Loeffler, a political newcomer, defies fellow Republicans who had pushed him to choose Rep. Doug Collins, one of Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress. Loeffler will fill the seat of retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down because of health issues.

Trump made clear that he preferred Collins to Loeffler but he has resigned himself to the pick, according to a person familiar with his thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Senate seat will be up for grabs again in November 2020 in an open-to-all special election for the final two years of Isakson’s term. Also on the ballot will be Republican Sen. David Perdue, another vocal Trump defender. With both of Georgia’s GOP-held Senate seats on the ballot alongside Trump in 2020, the race is raising the state’s profile as a political battleground where Republicans still dominate but Democrats have made substantial inroads in recent elections.

From the AJC:

In prepared remarks obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the financial executive will introduce herself to Georgia voters as an outsider who will fight the “socialist gang” in Washington bent on defeating the president.

“I haven’t spent my life trying to get to Washington. But here’s what folks are going to find out about me: I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump,” she will say. “I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.”

Loeffler is set to be appointed Wednesday by Gov. Brian Kemp to succeed U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at year’s end due to health concerns. The event is to be attended by several high-ranking Republican officials, intended to be a show of support for Kemp’s pick.

In her remarks, Loeffler tries to temper the critiques. She will say she believes the “abortion-on-demand agenda is immoral” and that she would vote for legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“When it comes to protecting innocent life, I look to God because every life is a blessing,” according to her prepared remarks.

“Contrary to what you see in the media, not every strong woman in America is a liberal,” she will say. “Many of us are conservatives, and proud of it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that Senate Republicans will welcome and support Gov. Kemp’s appointee, according to Politico.

Kemp, a Republican, is expected to appoint Loeffler on Wednesday to replace retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), a highly divisive move in the Republican Party. President Donald Trump was pushing for Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), and conservative groups lambasted Loeffler as wobbly on social issues. Collins has declined to rule out running in the primary for the seat in next year’s special election.

“It seems to me like the governor of Georgia made a terrific appointment,” McConnell said. “She will be an incumbent Republican senator. We will all be behind her. Sen. [Todd] Young has already made it clear the NRSC is going to be behind her. I’m going to be behind her, and I’m confident that someone we’re working with every day will enjoy total support from the Republican conference.”

Georgia has two Senate elections in 2020: one to replace Isakson, and the other in which Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is running for reelection. Isakson gave his farewell speech on Tuesday and was feted at a bipartisan lunch for his long Senate career.

WALB has some more from the funeral for the late State Rep. Jay Powell.

Funeral services for Rep. Jay Powell were held Sunday at the First Baptist Church of Camilla.

Baconton Mayor Annett Morman said that she and Powell’s love for Mitchell County brought them closer as colleagues and as friends.

“I am so saddened with his death,” Morman said. “He was a dear friend of mine. As a matter of fact, he was at two events in the city of Baconton (on) Oct. 3 and Oct. 10.”

Mitchell County Sheriff W.E. Bozeman said that Powell represented the county well.

“He was our state representative for Mitchell, part of Decatur, part of Colquitt County. He was pretty strong and he was a really good representative to Mitchell County and the other two counties,” Bozeman said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is still investigating the exact cause of Powell’s death.

Republican Bill Yearta was elected to the State House of Representatives for District 152, according to the AJC.

Bill Yearta, a jeweler and former mayor of Sylvester, received about 115 more votes than his opponent Jim Quinn, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office.

The two Republicans — both former mayors — faced off Tuesday to replace former state Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Albany, who resigned earlier this year. They were the top two vote-getters in a four-way special election last month.

Yearta, served as mayor of Sylvester for 17 years and resigned earlier this year for his House run, pulled ahead after a second-place finish in November to win Tuesday’s election.

Quinn, a journalist and former mayor of Leesburg, had secured the most votes in the four-way November race, receiving about 41.6% of the nearly 9,300 ballots cast. Yearta secured 34.3% of votes cast last month.

Yearta will represent voters in House District 152 in Lee, Sumter and Worth counties.

Van Johnson was elected Mayor of Savannah in the runoff, according to WSAV.

Alderman Van Johnson defeated incumbent Mayor Eddie DeLoach in Tuesday’s runoff. Unofficial results from the Chatham County Board of Elections are as follows:

Johnson – 62% or 14,884 votes
DeLoach – 38% or 9,291 votes

Back on Election Day, Nov. 5, Johnson got 46 percent to DeLoach’s 40 percent.

Just over a week ago, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams endorsed him. On Monday, she visited Savannah to attend Johnson’s final rally.

That’s also when New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Democratic candidate for president, showed his support.

“Good mayors don’t just have big ideas, they have big hearts. [Johnson] has both,” Booker tweeted, adding, “Savannah you know what to do.”

From the Savannah Morning News:

Johnson received 14,884 votes to incumbent Eddie DeLoach’s 9,291 votes.

Johnson has served as the First District Alderman for four terms.

Johnson said the win means Savannah has smart voters.

“It means our citizens were smart enough to look beyond negative campaigning,” Johnson said. “Negative campaigning does not work — people don’t like that kind of stuff. Because at the end of the day we all have to live here as neighbors.”

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams campaigned in Savannah with Johnson on Dec. 2. U.S. Senator Corey Booker also endorsed Johnson. Johnson has known both Abrams and Booker for a number of years.

Bo Dorough beat incumbent Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard in yesterday’s runoff, according to the Albany Herald.

In a stunning upset, attorney and former Albany City Commissioner Bo Dorough edged incumbent two-term Mayor Dorothy Hubbard 4,656 votes to 4,366 in Tuesday’s mayoral runoff election to unseat Hubbard.

Completing a sweeping change that will see the Albany city government with three new members, Demetrius Young edged John Hawthorne 662 votes to 609 to claim the Ward VI seat currently held by Tommie Postell, who chose not to run for health reasons.

With Chad Warbington’s victory over incumbent Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta during the Nov. 5 municipal election, the commission will take on a new tenor come January.

Scott James Matheson has a 123-vote lead in the race for Mayor of Valdosta, with enough provisional ballots to change the result, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Matheson, with 2,861 votes, currently leads Rice, with 2,738 votes, by 123 votes.

The winner will be determined by provisional ballots.

Precincts delivered provisional ballots to the board of elections late Tuesday. The 130 provisional ballots and three mail-in ballots will be counted at 4 p.m. Friday at the board of elections office. The process will be open to the public.

Incumbent Ben Norton appears to have defeated challenger Adrian Rivers in the Valdosta City Council at-large race.

Norton received 3,045 votes (55.50%) and defeated challenger Adrian Rivers, who received 2,441 votes (44.50%).

The five-person race for mayor narrowed to Rice and Matheson after Election Day Nov. 5. Rice received the largest share of votes at 34.84%, while Matheson edged out David Sumner by three points to finish second with 24.65%.

For the at-large seat, Norton’s opponent remained unknown in the Nov. 5 election until more than 100 provisional ballots were counted Nov. 8. Rivers ended up defeating Edgar “Nicky” Tooley by merely 18 votes with 22.26% of the total ballots cast.

The Democratic Party of Georgia coordinated canvassing in the Valdosta runoffs, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Democratic Party of Georgia strolled down Interstate 75 to help coordinate a Get Out The Vote effort for the nonpartisan runoff races for Valdosta mayor and the Valdosta City Council at-large seat.

Volunteers walked house to house with literature about why J.D. Rice and Adrian Rivers should receive residents’ votes. The mayoral race pit J.D. Rice against Scott James Matheson, while Adrian Rivers challenged incumbent at-large Councilman Ben Norton. The effort is part of a statewide effort to focus on municipal runoffs in Valdosta, Savannah and metro Atlanta, said Scott Hogan, executive director of the DPG.

With shifts from 10 a.m.-2 p.m and 3-7 p.m. Tuesday, 20 Democratic Party of Georgia volunteers knocked on doors in hopes of convincing residents to head to the polls in favor of Rice and Rivers.

The DPG is not coordinating with the Rice or Rivers campaigns because state party efforts are independent expenditures to comply with campaign finance law, said Justin Pitts, director of organizing and outreach of the DPG.

Charlie Bibb took the runoff election for Warner Robins City Council, according to Fox24.

Charlie Bibb earned 59 percent of the vote with Eric Langston earning 41 percent of the vote.

On Election Day in November, Langston beat Bibb. After his arrest for forgery and false statements on Monday, Langston now says he believes that contributed to the runoff’s final results, but thanked those who have supported him.

“I’m sure it did. There is nothing we can do about it now. Move forward and handle these issues later on down the road,” he says.

From the Macon Telegraph:

Langston is accused of forging a document that indicated that he didn’t owe any back taxes. He said he’s not guilty.

Bibb was not unscathed during the runoff.

He came under scrutiny during the runoff when WMAZ-TV aired a story about a decades-old arrest for burglary in which he received probation and first offender status, which means he doesn’t have a record because he successfully completed his probation.

Bibb, who noted that he surrendered his life to Jesus, said he’s always been open about his past.

“If the Lord can change me, he could change anybody,” Bibb said. “That’s how I live my life.”

Kurtis Purtee won the runoff for Savannah Board of Aldermen District 6 over 20-year incumbent Tony Thomas, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Purtee triumphed over incumbent Tony Thomas — who held this aldermanic post since 1999 — by garnering 2,529 out of 4,747 ballots cast in Tuesday’s District 6 runoff with all nine precincts counted, giving him 53.28% of the total turnout.

“I’m so grateful and humbled by the support,” said Purtee. “For those that didn’t support me … I’m still going to be a voice for them.”

Purtee’s victory continues the trend of this year’s Savannah elections favoring fresh faces, as every other aldermanic seat but one — the District 5 post held by Estella Shabazz, who ran for reelection unopposed — will also be held by first-time city-council members in the new administration. Despite his lack of experience in municipal politics, Purtee believes that his public service with police agencies helped give him the edge in Tuesday’s runoff.

Purtee’s campaign received a boost with the endorsement of Antonio Hunter, a former substitute teacher who also ran for the seat held by Thomas in the main election on Nov. 5. Hunter finished third with over 14% of the total 4,550 ballots cast in District 6 during the first round, leaving both Purtee and Thomas with less than 50% of the vote share to force Tuesday’s runoff.

Congratulations and condolences to Derek Norton, who was elected Mayor of Smyrna, according to

The runoff mayoral election in Smyrna took place on Dec. 3 with Derek Norton winning with his 3,764 votes. Ryan Campbell followed behind with 3,605.

In Ward 2 race, Austin Wagner won the most votes with 391 against incumbent Andrea Blustein, who tallied 284.

Brunswick City Commissioner Johnny Cason won reelection in yesterday’s runoff, according to The Brunswick News.

Cason defeated challenger John Davis Perry II by 12 votes in Tuesday’s runoff to determine the winner of the North Ward seat.

The runoff was necessary after none of the four candidates was able to garner more than 50 percent of the vote. The top two vote recipients were Cason with 46 percent of the vote and Perry with 24 percent of the vote in the Nov. 5 general election.

Cason earned 304 votes or 51 percent to Perry’s 292 votes or 49 percent. Only 6.1 percent of the city’s 9,761 registered voters showed up to cast their votes in the runoff.

Braselton, Norcross, and Snellville elected municipal leaders in runoff elections, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

In the only runoff that featured an incumbent, Braselton Councilwoman Becky Richardson cruised to a victory over Richard Mayberry by capturing 61.6% of the 159 votes cast in the Council District 1 race. Richardson received 98 votes, compared to 61 votes for Mayberry.

In Snellville, Solange Destang cruised to a 557-401 victory over Brittany Marmol in the open Post 2 City Council runoff.

In Norcross, Bruce Gaynor narrowly defeated Tyler Hannel by a margin of 274-232, in the open city council runoff to replace Councilman Dan Hatch.

The Gwinnett County Transit Plan review committee is asking for extra time to finish its work, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

When the committee tasked with coming up with recommendations for revisions to the Connect Gwinnett Transit Plan was created, it had a mandate from county commissioners to finish that work by Dec. 31. The head of the committee, Laurie McClain, and Gwinnett Transportation Director Alan Chapman told commissioners that the review panel would like to get the deadline pushed back to the end of January.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission issued subpoenas to two Atlanta mayoral candidates, according to the AJC.

The commission on Monday notified Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ campaign of allegations that it accepted $382,773 in contributions that exceeded maximum limits established by law.

The commission is also alleging that Mary Norwood, Bottoms’ opponent in the runoff, accepted $168,975 in contributions that exceeded the limits.

The documents outlining the violations do not name the donors whose contributions allegedly exceeded the limits — which in 2017 were $2,600 for a general election and $1,400 for a runoff.

In total, Bottoms raised $2.7 million for her campaign compared to Norwood’s $2.1 million.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 3, 2019


On December 3, 1775, the Grand Union Flag, comprising the Union Jack with thirteen red-and-white stripes was raised for the first time by Lieutenant John Paul Jones over the USS Alfred, a colonial warship. The flag would be used by Continental forces thorugh 1776 and early 1777.

USS Alfred

On December 3, 1776, General George Washington wrote Congress that he had moved most of his army across the Delaware River from Trenton, New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

On December 3, 1864, Union forces under the command of Gen. William T. Sherman skirmished against Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry at Thomas’ Station in Burke County, Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former President Jimmy Carter has been hospitalized again, according to the Albany Herald.

“Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was admitted to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Ga., this past weekend for treatment for a urinary tract infection,” a statement from the Carter Center read. “He is feeling better and looks forward to returning home soon. We will issue a statement when he is released for further rest and recovery at home.”

Carter, 95, had been admitted to the hospital on November 11 for a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain. The pressure was caused by bleeding from his recent falls, the center said at the time. He was hospitalized twice in October, suffering a black eye and receiving 14 stitches above his brow after his first fall, when he hit his forehead “on a sharp edge.” He then received treatment for a minor pelvic fracture after his second fall.

Carter celebrated his 95th birthday on October 1, and is the oldest living former US president in history — a title once held by George H.W. Bush, who died in late 2018 at age 94.

Today is runoff election day in a number of municipalities across Georgia. Read a little further for information on some of those elections.

Governor Brian Kemp is widely expected to name Kelly Loeffler to the United States Senate tomorrow. From the AJC:

Kemp and his advisers spent the last stretch putting the finishing touches on his pick’s rollout during an announcement set for 10 a.m. Wednesday. He’s eager to trumpet a prominent executive who can self-finance her campaign and, he’ll contend, help the Georgia GOP win back suburban voters.

The announcement would come a day after U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson delivers a farewell speech on the Senate floor. Isakson, who is stepping down at year’s end because of health issues, recently had breakfast with Kemp and repeated his pledge to support the governor’s selection.

Loeffler also started introducing herself to her soon-to-be colleagues, including a conversation with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The National Republican Senatorial Committee told her she’d be treated as an incumbent with the group’s full support, which could help defend her new post.

Here’s my position on Kelly Loeffler’s appointment:  I’m going to give her a chance to live up to the promise that Governor Kemp sees in her, then I’ll decide whether she’s the kind of Republican I can support.

Roswell City Council Post 3 has a runoff with two female candidates, according to

Post 3 did not have an incumbent running, and saw four candidates vying for the seat in November. Christine Hall took 3,827 of votes, and will face Lisa Holland who had 3,530 votes in a runoff. Other candidates, Keith Goeke with 2,002 votes and Kay Howell with 1,727 votes, will not be in the runoff.

Johns Creek City Council has three runoff elections, according to

For Johns Creek City Council Post 2, Brian Weaver who received 3,253 votes will face Dilip Tunki who received 2,160 votes in a runoff. The third candidate Royce Reinecke took 1,696 votes.

Johns Creek Post 4 incumbent Chris Coughlin received 3,319 votes, and will face Marybeth Cooper, who had 1,342 votes, in a runoff. Other candidates Adam Thomas had 1,288 votes and Kent Altom with 1,052 votes.

Johns Creek Post 6 saw three vying for the seat, and Erin Elwood took 2,700 votes and will face Issure C. Yang, who had 2,258 votes, in a runoff. The third candidate Judy LeFave took 2,076 votes.

Walthourville in Liberty County on the Georgia coast will hold a runoff for City Council today.

11Alive looks at a variety of runoff elections being contested today.

A runoff election for mayor in Savannah headlines the municipal races, with Alderman Van Johnson seeking to unseat incumbent Eddie DeLoach.

Voters in Valdosta will be choosing a new mayor, with former fire chief J.D. Rice going up against talk show host Scott James Matheson. In Albany, incumbent Mayor Dorothy Hubbard seeks a third term against lawyer Kermit “Bo” Dorough.

In metro Atlanta, voters will settle mayor’s races in College Park, Doraville, Morrow and Smyrna.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach will attempt to hold his seat in today’s runoff, according to WJCL.

Incumbent Eddie DeLoach and Alderman Van Johnson will go head-to-head in Tuesday’s runoff election.

“This race is important. I want people to get our and exercise their constitutional right and ability to vote,” Johnson said.

“The only way you make difference in your community is to come out and vote,” DeLoach said.

On Johnson’s last day on the campaign trail, he attracted many state and local leaders for support including former Savannah mayors, newly elected city council members and Georgia Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.

DeLoach also brought in support from state leaders and other mayors across the coastal empire, but says he was looking for support manly on a local level.

Valdosta voters go to the polls in runoff elections today, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Election Day strikes again Tuesday, Dec. 3, as city residents head back to the polls to vote in runoff races for mayor of Valdosta and Valdosta City Council at-large.

The mayoral race pits Scott James Matheson against J.D. Rice, while incumbent at-large Councilman Ben Norton hopes to retain his seat from challenger Adrian Rivers.

House District 152 in Southwest Georgia will see a runoff election today, according to WALB.

People in Sumter, Worth and Lee counties will cast their vote Tuesday for one of the biggest runoff races in the area.

Former Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta and former Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn are in the runoff and both are still hoping for a big win Tuesday night.

Brunswick City Commission’s North Ward holds a runoff today, according to The Brunswick News.

Braselton Town Council District 1 hosts a runoff election today, according to the Gainesville Times.

Voting takes place 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the runoff for the Braselton Town Council’s District 1 seat.

Residents can vote at the Braselton Police & Municipal Court building at 5040 Ga. Highway 53.

The election pits incumbent Becky Richardson against challenger Richard Mayberry. They were the top two finishers in the Nov. 5 election.

In Habersham County, District 5 voters go to the polls in a runoff today, according to AccessWDUN.

Habersham County voters need to choose a county commissioner to represent District 5. Darrin Johnston and Tim Stamey were the top vote-getters in the Nov. 5 general election. One of them will replace Ed Nichols, who resigned after moving.

The AJC lists other Metro Atlanta area runoff elections being held today.

Whitfield County‘s Special Purpose Local Option Sale Tax (SPLOST) citizens committee delivered its wish list, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The chairman of a citizens advisory committee making recommendations for projects that could be funded by a proposed 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) thanked officials with the City of Dalton on Monday for coming up with a good list of projects to be funded.

“When we went through the city’s requests and started weeding them out, we found that a lot of the weeding had already been done,” said Chris Shiflett.

Shiflett and other members of the committee delivered their recommendations to the City Council at the council’s meeting Monday night.

Dougherty County Commissioners adopted revisions to their alcohol ordinance, according to the Albany Herald.

Dougherty County Commission put voters’ will into policy on Monday, approving ordinances allowing Sunday package sales of alcohol and setting an earlier time to begin serving mixed drinks on Sunday.

Beginning in January, Sunday sales of beer, wine and distilled spirits will be legal in stores in unincorporated Dougherty County.

The city of Albany does not allow package sales on Sunday.

A vote on Sunday sales at package stores outside the Albany city limits passed on Nov. 5 with 60% of the vote, 7,449-4,883. Voters who live outside Albany approved moving up the start time for selling alcoholic beverages at restaurants from noon to 11 a.m.

Columbus City Council will consider repealing an ordinance that bans tattooing on Sunday, according to the Ledger Enquirer.

Columbus Council Tuesday night will consider deleting an “antiquated” local law that prohibits the act of tattooing on Sundays or Sabbath days.

The change was sparked by the scheduling of the region’s first large tattoo convention set to occupy the Columbus Convention and trade center in January.

District 8 Councilor Walker Garrett said the Columbus Tattoo Expo, which will feature artists doing tattoos on-site throughout the entire weekend January 10-12, prompted his proposal to change the ordinance.

“It is my understanding that the local parlors already operate on Sundays and this law hasn’t been enforced, but I thought it was better to change an antiquated law then to risk affecting a major convention coming to Columbus,” Garrett said in an email.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce will hear from local legislators at their Eggs and Issues breakfast, according to the Gainesville Times.

Local residents and business leaders can hear from state legislators and get a look ahead at the 2020 legislative session at the annual Eggs & Issues event Dec. 12.

The event, hosted by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, will feature all of Hall County’s delegation in the Georgia General Assembly:

• State Sen. Butch Miller, 49th District

• State Sen. John Wilkinson, 50th District

• State Rep. Lee Hawkins, 27th District

• State Rep. Matt Dubnik, 29th District

• State Rep. Emory Dunahoo Jr., 30th District

• State Rep. Timothy Barr, 103rd District

Floyd County Commissioners discussed their priorities with local legislators, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Floyd County Commissioners sat down for a luncheon Monday with state Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville, to discuss issues concerning inmates and taxes.

The meeting was aimed at letting lawmakers know what local officials are hoping for help with in the 2020 Georgia General Assembly session.

One of the biggest issues concerning county commissioners is the cost to support the prison population, most notably the medical costs.

“We’re spending $3.3 million on medical care for prison and jail inmates,” County Manager Jamie McCord said.

The commissioners commented that majority of the inmate population and local arrests have substance abuse issues and mental illnesses. It’s a major problem county commission members have been trying to tackle for the last couple of years.

“We now have a task force with Judge (Jack) Niedrach and Bonnie Moore and all the right people, trying to figure out a better way to care for people with mental illness and substance abuse issues than in our jail,” Commissioner Allison Watters said.

Niedrach presides over a mental health court and Moore is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter NAMI Rome.

Atlanta City Council voted unanimously to ban single-use plastics in food service at Hartsfield-Jackson airport, according to the AJC.

The Atlanta City Council voted unanimously in favor of a ban on non-compostable single-use plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam used to serve food at city buildings and at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

But the plastics ban the city council voted for on Monday would allow for a year to pass before it takes effect. Even then, it will apply only to businesses on new city contracts struck after the effective date and to city purchases.

Atlanta voters will decide on whether to levy a renewal of the penny sales tax for water and sewer, according to the AJC.

If the tax is approved, taxpayers would pay up to $750 million over four years to continue fixing the city’s water issues which are projected to cost nearly $4 billion.

City Council approved the March 24, 2020, referendum during its Nov. 18 meeting. The current penny tax would end Sept. 30, 2020.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 2, 2019

John Wesley left Savannah on December 2, 1737.

John Wesley’s strict discipline as rector of Christ Church in Savannah irritated his parishioners. More trouble followed when he fell in love with Sophia Hopkey, the niece of Georgia’s chief magistrate. When she married another man, Wesley banned her from Holy Communion, damaging her reputation in the community.

His successful romantic rival sued him; but Wesley refused to recognize the authority of the court, and the man who would eventually found a major Protestant denomination in America left Georgia in disgrace on December 2, 1737.

Touro Synagogue, the oldest existing synagogue in the United States, was dedicated on December 2, 1763 in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Skirmish at Rocky Creek Church took place near Waynesboro, Georgia on December 2, 1864.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp‘s appointment of a replacement for U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson has become a full-fledged battle between the Governor’s Office and “Florida Man.” From Fox News:

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday that there could be political consequences if Kemp decides not to choose President Trump’s reported favorite for the state’s expected U.S. Senate vacancy.

In a series of Twitter messages on the day after Thanksgiving, Gaetz, a Florida Republican, called on Kemp to choose U.S. Rep. Doug Collins for the seat, when Sen. Johnny Isakson steps down at the end of the year.

“You are ignoring his request because you THINK you know better than @POTUS,” Gaetz wrote in one Twitter message. “If you substitute your judgement [sic] for the President’s, maybe you need a primary in 2022. Let’s see if you can win one w/o Trump.”

“You are hurting President Trump,” Gaetz wrote in another tweet. “You know this because he told you.”

Kemp had fired off a Twitter message of his own.

“The idea that I would appoint someone to the U.S. Senate that is NOT pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-freedom, and 100% supportive of our President (and his plan to Keep America Great) is ridiculous,” Kemp wrote. “The attacks and games are absolutely absurd. Frankly, I could care less what the political establishment thinks.”

From the AJC:

Gov. Brian Kemp plans to tap financial executive Kelly Loeffler for a U.S. Senate seat next week as he pushes to expand the Georgia GOP’s appeal to women who have fled the party in recent years.

The appointment would defy President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders who have repeatedly urged the governor to appoint U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a four-term congressman who is one of the president’s staunchest defenders in Washington.

The governor is expected to announce Loeffler’s appointment at a press conference early [this] week, barring any last-minute change of heart, several senior GOP officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution exclusively. Kemp’s office declined to comment Friday.

Kemp’s allies say Loeffler, a first-time candidate, can help woo women who have bolted a party that’s dominated by white male elected officials. (If she is appointed, Loeffler would become the second woman to serve in the U.S. Senate from Georgia. Rebecca Latimer Felton served one day in the chamber in 1922 following the death of Tom Watson.)

From the Associated Press, via the Gainesville Times.

At the center of the dispute is a debate over who can best help the GOP position itself for success in the November 2020 elections in Georgia. Loeffler’s supporters believe she can widen the Republican tent and appeal to women and suburban Atlanta voters, who have trended more Democratic since Trump’s election. Collins’ supporters, meanwhile, say that an experienced campaigner with proven conservative credentials is needed.

One of the unexpected hallmarks of Kemp’s first year in office has been the appointment of a diverse slate of candidates to state panels and judicial posts, which has surprised even some of his most ardent critics.

Kemp took the unusual step of opening an online application process for the Senate seat in September and asked everyone from congressional representatives to ordinary Georgians to apply. In addition to Collins and Loeffler, other top Republicans who have applied include former U.S. Republican Rep. Jack Kingston, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and state House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones.

And back to the AJC:

Facing shots over his planned pick for an open U.S. Senate seat, Gov. Brian Kemp’s inner circle unleashed a special type of vitriol against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida after he blasted the governor’s plans to select financial executive Kelly Loeffler.

With a vigor that evoked memories of the 2018 campaign, Kemp’s advisers slammed the Floridian after he called for the Georgia governor to be challenged in 2022 or questioned whether he could win re-election.

“It’s not the establishment you are screwing with your donor-induced stubbornness. You are hurting President Trump. You know this because he told you,” Gaetz tweeted, later mentioning how Loeffler donated to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid but not to Trump in 2016.

… Kemp confidantes jumped in, seizing the opportunity to target Gaetz instead of taking on Georgia critics who have assailed Loeffler ….

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall compared Gaetz to Abrams, the Democrat who lost last year’s gubernatorial election but didn’t concede. Candice Broce, a top Kemp deputy, chided him to “focus on Florida and study federalism” and mocked his spelling.

From Politico:

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has begun informing Republican officials he plans to appoint financial services executive Kelly Loeffler to the state’s soon-to-be vacant Senate seat, according to three people familiar with the conversations.

Members of the state’s Republican congressional delegation were among those to receive a heads-up from Kemp on his decision, according to an aide to a House Republican from Georgia who received a call from the governor over the weekend.

Governor Kemp presented the Governor’s Cup to the University of Georgia football team this weekend, according to USA Today.

State Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) was laid to rest Sunday, according to the AJC.

Powell was a powerful advocate for rural Georgia and an authority on tax policy during his 10 years in the state House. He served for a year as the leader of the House Rules Committee, one of the most important positions in the statehouse.

He died Tuesday during a retreat of Republican legislative leaders at Brasstown Valley Resort at the age of 67. More remembrances of Powell, whose legacy was lauded by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, have trickled in from those who knew him best.

Savannah voters go to the polls tomorrow in runoff elections for Mayor and Alderman, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Mayor Eddie DeLoach is up against Alderman Van Johnson, and in District 6, incumbent Alderman Tony Thomas is in a runoff with challenger Kurtis Purtree.

In the general election Nov. 5, Johnson received 11,400 votes for 45.96%, and DeLoach received 9,812 votes for 39.55%. Regina Thomas received 3,349 votes for 13.5%, and Louis Wilson received 209 votes for less than 1% of the total. There were also 36 write-in votes cast.

In the District 6 election, Thomas received 2,125 votes for 46.70% followed by Purtree with 1,764 for 38.77% and Antonio Hunter with 640 for 14.07%.

The Albany Herald looks at the candidates in tomorrow’s runoff election for Mayor, incumbent Dorothy Hubbard, and challenger Kermit “Bo” Dorough. In another article, the Herald profiles Ward VI runoff candidates John Hawthorne and Demetrius Young.

Norcross, Snellville, and Braselton will hold runoff elections tomorrow, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

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

Voting in the city will take place in the community room at City Hall, which is located at 65 Lawrenceville St.

Over in Snellville, Solange Destang and Brittany Marmol will face off in the open City Council Post 2 race. The winner will replace Councilman Roger Marmol, who is Brittany Marmol’s husband and opted not to seek re-election this year.

Snellville voters will cast their ballots in the City Hall Community Room which is located at 2342 Oak Road.

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

The city’s runoff voting will take place at the Police and Municipal Building, which is located at 5040 Highway 53.

Smyrna voters will choose a new Mayor in the runoff election tomorrow, according to

There will be a runoff election on Dec. 3 between Smyrna mayoral candidates Derek Norton and Ryan Campbell, reported the Marietta Daily Journal.

Gwinnett County lawyer Christa Kirk will run for the Superior Court seat currently held by Judge Kathryn Schrader, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Federal funding for children’s mental health is a complex issue for state legislators, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Federal funds could be available next year to address the mental health needs of very young children, but a House study committee found state Medicaid policies don’t cover assessments.

“We’ve got to find a way to pull our agencies together, certainly through conversations with our governor and other state agency heads … There is a desire to make this happen,” said Rep. Katie Dempsey.

The Rome Republican chairs the human resources subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. She spent the fall leading the House Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health.

Georgia officials are still working on a plan that may, or may not, include the youngest children. Committee members heard testimony about other states that have revamped their Medicaid system to include coverage for diagnostics at that age — including in Alabama.

The Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Commission is accepting public comments on its Transportation Improvement Plan, according to the Savannah Morning News.