Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 21, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 21, 2022

The Washington Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885.

John Lewis, was born on February 21, 1940 in Pike County Alabama. In 1963, Lewis became President of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, based in Atlanta. In 1981, Lewis was elected to an at-large seat on the Atlanta City Council, and in 1986, he was elected to Congress, defeating Julian Bond in the Democratic Primary.

On February 21, 1958, Governor Marvin Griffin signed legislation creating the Stone Mountain Memorial Association to oversee construction and operation of a Confederate memorial and public park at the site.

On February 21, 1998, Julian Bond was selected as Chairman of the NAACP. Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but the House initially refused to seat him due to his opposition to the war in Vietnam. The United States Supreme Court eventually ruled against the House and Bond was sworn in on January 9, 1967, serving there until his election to the Georgia State Senate. In 1986, Bond left the Senate to run for Congress.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #02.18.22.01, renewing the State of Emergency for Continued COVID Economic Recovery, which now ends March 27, 2022 at one minute to midnight.

Governor Kemp signed legislation adopting new district maps for Gwinnett County Commission and Board of Education members, according to AccessWDUN.

The maps were drawn by Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The commission map is expected to create a more conservative-leaning District 4 in the county with lines similar to those of the state senate district currently represented by Buford Republican Clint Dixon.

The new maps drew heavy criticism from state and county Democrats, who argued that state legislators should have deferred to the Gwinnett delegation, which is majority Democrat.

Commission and school board district maps are updated every 10 years as the latest census numbers are released.

Gov. Kemp also signed redistricting maps for Athens-Clarke County Commission districts, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday signed HB 890, the bill that outlines the new commission district map and has received criticism from local elected officials who oppose the drastic changes the new map creates.

The passing of the bill comes right before a deadline from the Secretary of State’s office for the local elections office. Local elections officials face a Feb. 18 deadline from the state to have updated voter information in the system, including addresses coded into the right district.

This map was presented by four out of the five members of the Athens-Clarke County Legislative Delegation, with all four republican politicians supporting the map. The delegation said that this map is more geographically compact, has less deviation in population, and overall is a better representation for the county.

But Athens’ sole democratic representative Spencer Frye, a majority of the Athens-Clarke County commission and Athens’ mayor all oppose the map signed by the governor, having said that it creates new problems and inequity, caused by drastic changes in district commission lines.

Governor Kemp spoke in Gainesville during a North Georgia campaign swing, according to AccessWDUN.

“We have come all the way back,” Kemp said. “We have the most people ever working in the history of the state…and it’s because people in Gainesville and Northeast Georgia and all across the state have been resilient.”

With Georgia’s unemployment rate at 2.6 percent, Kemp said this is further proof that his policy of “protecting lives and livelihoods” is working. “We have taken the tact that we’re going to trust people to help us fight through this more than just looking to the government for answers,” Kemp told his supporters.

“This is Kemp country,” said Rep. Matt Dubnik (R-Gainesville). “What I’m hearing from my supporters is that the constituents of Hall County are overwhelmingly supportive of Governor Kemp.”

Several local political leaders attended the event, including Rep. Emory Dunahoo Jr. and Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon.

“Everything he has promised, I’ve watched mature, I’ve watched come about,” Dunahoo told the crowd.

Judge Frank McKay with the State Board of Worker’s Compensation said he supports the governor because of his role in recent legal battles against opioid companies. “He has done an excellent job in leading that fight,” McKay said. “Some of those settlement dollars are going directly to help the victims of opioid addiction throughout the state of Georgia.”

From the AJC:

[L]ike every stop, he avoided saying a negative word about Donald Trump, despite entreaties from reporters.

When we asked him about the alliance between Perdue and Abrams to oppose a change in fundraising law to block political opponents from raising cash during a legislative session, Kemp was unsparing.

“I thought it was kind of comical that Perdue is lining up with Stacey Abrams,” said Kemp. “He said, and she said, they always want everything to be equitable and fair. And it’s not. They can raise money now and people who are in session can’t.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffernsperger (R-ish) spoke in Albany, according to the Albany Herald.

“Your opponent congressman Jody Hice continues to say voter fraud is the reason why Trump lost what is your response to that?” WALB asked.

“28,000 Georgians skipped the presidential ballot, they didn’t vote for anyone there, yet they voted down-ballot,” said Raffensperger.

Meaning they skipped the presidential race ballot and continued to vote for the other races like Sheriff County commissioners and state representatives.

Raffensperger says even though his opponent Jody Hice has been endorsed by President Trump, he’s still confident in his ability to win the race.

“I’m not concerned about that at all for one reason, I’m standing on the truth.”

“People said there were 10,315 dead people that voted, we found four. They said that there were thousands of felons that voted, we saw less than 74. They said there were 2,400 nonregistered voters, we found zero. They said 66,000 under-age voters, we found zero.”

Port Wentworth officials will hold a press conference to discuss staffing issues, according to WTOC.

The city has scheduled a press conference at city hall at 1 p.m. on Monday. They plan to address the current situation and discuss how the city will be moving forward after all of this.

It’s been almost two weeks since the city manager resigned along with six out of seven of the administrative staff due to a hostile work environment from city council.

The current Port Wentworth Police Chief Matt Libby was appointed interim city manager but just three days later sent in his resignation letter for the city manager position we are hoping to get some clarification on Monday, when exactly his last day will be.

A State Capitol rally Sunday opposed legislation to limit classroom topics, according to 11Alive via 13WMAZ.

“They attack the stories that we can tell from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds and they continue to allow our schools to tell false narratives about our history as a country as a state and as a world,” Africana Studies high school teacher Anthony Downer said.

One of the bill’s authors State Representative Will Wade previously expressed his stance is that some of the teachings in question are about politics. “Kids are kids and they should not be used as political pawns for anybody,” he said.

Penny Poole, president of the Gwinnett County NAACP said HB 888 and HB 1084, as well as SB 375 and SB 377 circumvent the choices local voters have already made.

“The people have voted, even the republicans in Gwinnett County in the 2020 election 71 percent of them said they do not want nonpartisan elections,” Poole said. “They’ve taken these bills which would not have passed locally, taken them to the statehouse.”

The Savannah Morning News covers three bills by local legislators, including SB 403 by Senator Ben Watson (R-Savannah), the “Georgia Behavioral Health and Peace Officer Co-Responder Act.”

Another Kemp priority carried by a Chatham delegation member, this bill aims to give police departments across the state the option to include behavioral health professionals, the co-responders from the bill’s namesake, in their response to mental health calls.

This intends to keep those who need mental or behavioral health treatment out of prisons and jails, which helps curb the costs incurred by the county, and frees up officers to focus on violent crime.

Sen. Ben Watson said the bill is based on the model of Savannah police’s Crisis Intervention Unit. While adoption of this practice would not be required for every police department in the state, the bill allows local community service boards to set up the framework for the program.

“The bill empowers the community service boards to provide the infrastructure if the local police department or sheriff’s department wants to use them to start that up in their jurisdiction.” – Sen. Watson

The Rome News Tribune discusses legislation by local elected officials.

The Georgia General Assembly is on break Monday for the Presidents Day holiday. Tuesday will be the 19th day of the 40-day annual session. Legislation must make it through the originating chamber by the 28th day, scheduled for March 15, to be considered by the other chamber.

[State Rep. Eddie] Lumsden’s HB 52, realigning the Chattooga County Board of Education voting districts based on 2020 census numbers, passed the Senate earlier this month and was signed into law Friday by Gov. Brian Kemp. The Rome City and Floyd County school board elections are at-large, open to all voters in the school system.

[Senator Chuck] Hufstetler’s Senate Bill 343, awaiting a hearing in the House Retirement Committee, may be difficult to ignore.

The major update to the state retirement program is one of Kemp’s cornerstone proposals. It will increase the 401(k) match for current employees and give cost-of-living adjustments to excluded retirees as early as July 1.

The Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 346, which would prohibit state governement from contracting with businesses owned by the Chinese government, according to the AJC.

Senate Bill 346 passed 32-20 on a nearly party-line vote, with Atlanta state Sen. Jen Jordan being the only Democrat to support the measure.

Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, a Chickamauga Republican, said he filed the measure to keep Georgia from getting into business with a government that has been accused of human rights violations, harvesting organs of executed inmates and using technology to steal users’ data around the world.

“Americans in the Peach State are impacted by the concern of the technology theft that goes on from the Chinese government every day,” Mullis said.

SB 346 now goes to the House for its consideration.

Chatham County Commission Chair Chester Ellis spoke about redistricting maps for the Commission and Board of Education districts that were rejected by state legislators, according to WTOC.

“We were told if the school board and county agreed on a map that the legislators would approve it. It wasn’t until this week that things started to blow up,” said Chairman Chester Ellis, Chatham Board of Commissioners.

The county called in an independent, neutral party, the Metropolitan Planning Committee, who worked on the maps for about three months last year.

State Rep. Ron Stephens, chair of the Chatham County Legislative Delegation, says the MPC sent a good outline but It’s the state’s job to draw the maps.

“We found out that the deviations between the districts clearly had a problem,” said Rep. Ron Stephens, Chair of the Chatham County Legislative Delegation.

That’s why the reapportionment committee didn’t accept the map as is like they usually do. He says the maps have not been finalized. He says they wanted to make sure the map would stand up to a court challenge if it got to that point.

Democrat Al Wynn said he will run for the State House District 153 seat being vacated by State Rep. CaMia Jackson, according to the Albany Herald.

Wynn, a Democrat, is the second candidate to express interest in running for the seat in which incumbent CaMia Jackson has announced she is not seeking re-election.

Dougherty County Republican Party Chairman Tracy Taylor, an Albany firefighter, also has announced he will seek election in the district, the only one that is contained wholly within Dougherty County.

The Macon Telegraph looks at Middle Georgia’s expected economic recovery.

Georgia is expected to gain 143,900 jobs statewide this year, surpassing its pre-pandemic number of jobs, according to the 2022 Georgia Economic Outlook from UGA’s Terry College of Business. That’s a job growth rate of about 3.6% for the state.

The Macon Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is expected to gain 1,500 jobs, or a job growth rate of about 1.5%. The Warner Robins MSA already has recovered more jobs than the state, according to Alexandra Hill, senior data analyst with the UGA Selig Center for Economic Growth.

“One of Macon’s primary strengths relates to its proximity to the Atlanta MSA,” according to Hill’s prepared remarks. “Macon functions as a manufacturing, transportation and warehousing hub between the ports on the coast and Atlanta.

Primary industries, which make up just under half of non-farm employment, include healthcare and education 21%, government 14.5% and financial services industry 10%.

Top employers include GEICO (5,500); Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center (4,800); Coliseum Health Systems (1,805); Mercer University (1,000); and the Georgia Farm Bureau (998).

Three members of the Hugley family serve in public office, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Isaiah Hugley, 64, is the first and only Black city manager of Columbus and the longest-serving one, with 17 years spanning five mayors. He was inducted into the Georgia Municipal Government Hall of Fame last year.

His wife, Carolyn Hugley, 63, is the longest-serving woman currently in the Georgia House, at 30 years, and the first African American to serve as whip.

His sister, Pat Hugley Green, 55, is the first Black woman to chair the elected Muscogee County School Board, where she has represented District 1 for 17 years. She also was the first and only Columbus resident to have served as president of the Georgia School Boards Association.

Calhoun County Sheriff’s Deputies seized a drone with drugs and cell phones they say was intended to be used for smuggling contraband into the Calhoun State Prison, according to WALB.

A Monroe County man asked deputies to allow him to smoke a joint before going to jail, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Georgia Ports Authority and the Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce will present the State of Georgia Ports on March 9, according to The Brunswick News.

The Ocean Terminal in Savannah is switching to handle containerized traffic, which means the Georgia Ports Authority will have to find another place to handle the vehicles and cargo that is shipped there. Local business leaders are expecting that cargo, including 30,000 vehicles a year that will be shipped to Australia, will come to the Port of Brunswick.

The bulk and break bulk cargo, as well as the roll-on roll-off traffic that is served by Ocean Terminal, may also end up coming to the Port of Brunswick, which is the desire of local business leaders.

The Port of Savannah is the fastest-growing container terminal in the nation.

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