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

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

On January 3, 1766, after passage of the “stamp act,” the Royal Stamp Master arrived at Tybee Island and was taken to the Governor’s Mansion. On that day, Georgia became the first and only colony in which the stamp tax was actually collected.

Delaware, technically at the time a slave state, rejected a proposal to secede from the United States on January 3, 1861.

On January 3, 1973, Andrew Young was sworn in as the first African-American Congressman from Georgia since 1871.

The sarcophagus containing the mummy of King Tatankhamen was discovered on January 3, 1925.

On January 3, 1990, Panamanian General Manuel Antonio Noriega surrendered to American forces in Panama.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Kelly Loeffler will be sworn in on Monday as the junior United States Senator from Georgia. From the AJC:

U.S. Sen. David Perdue will escort Loeffler down the aisle, adhering to the tradition of the senior senator leading his her counterpart down the aisle.

Vice President Mike Pence, in his role as the Senate’s president, will administer the oath of office around 5 p.m. Loeffler will carry a family bible that she will use to swear upon.

Because Senate rules prohibit photography inside the chambers, members always re-enact the ceremony in the Old Senate Chambers. So, any pictures you see of Loeffler taking the oath with her family by her side will be of that re-enactment.

You can watch the swearing in on the C-SPAN website, which has a live feed of all Senate proceedings.

Loeffler visited the Georgia Ports Authority, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia Senator-designate Kelly Loeffler paid a visit to Georgia Ports Authority on Thursday, where she spoke highly of the port expansion project and said she would give a ‘no’ vote during President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearing.

Loeffler, who will be sworn in on Jan. 6, got a tour of the facilities, where she said she met with GPA leadership and learned more about the port expansion project.

“I don’t think that there was due process followed in the House proceedings, and so it would be very difficult to understand how that would not be the conclusion,” she said. “So yes, I would support a ‘no’ vote on impeachment.”

She said her experience with running a business helped her understand the workings of the port, and said she was impressed by the local leadership.

“There’s quite a bit of linkage in terms of running a good business and the way this port is being managed financially, operationally. I think it speaks volumes about the ability of this facility to grow and be really a leader in our country,” Loeffler said. “I think that the good management is a huge part of that for sure.”

From WTOC:

The senator-designate came to town to meet Representative Buddy Carter and other area business and city leaders. She has big plans for her new role.

Loeffler will join four committees once she takes office. Her top priorities are to serve veterans, work on healthcare and agriculture.

“The business community coming together to do the right thing for Savannah and for the state and I think that really signals a really strong and healthy dynamic so that we can have good communication,” said Kelly Loeffler, Senator-Designate. “My goal is to be very connected to the state of Georgia to not become a Washington politician. I want to stay very close to the needs here and I can rely on this community to give me that feedback.”

“The governors made an outstanding choice,” said Representative Buddy Carter. “Kelly Loeffler is going to be a great senator her values reflect the values of Georgia citizens and we’re excited about having her. Not only is she a businessperson someone who has signed the front of a paycheck she understands it. She gets it.”

“If she continues down the path that Senator Isakson and Senator Purdue have been on which is supporting business, supporting development and industry that will be great and that’s what we’re looking for,” said Griff Lynch, Executive Director of the Georgia Port Authority.

From 11Alive:

Since the public announcement of her appointment in December nearly a month ago, the businesswoman’s rollout as the state’s newest US Senator has been very closely guarded.

She has quietly traveled the state, documenting on social media her visits with friendly gatherings in Augusta, in the south Georgia town of Homerville, and this week in Carrollton – mostly sidestepping her hometown of Atlanta and much of its media scrutiny.

Governor Brian Kemp appointed James Prine to a seat on the Superior Court for the Southern Judicial Circuit, which serves Brooks, Colquitt, Echols, Lowndes, and Thomas Counties. From the Press Release:

Prine will replace the Honorable Harry Jay Altman II following Altman’s retirement.

“Given Jim’s extensive background with the Southern Judicial Circuit, I am confident that he is the right man for this job,” stated Governor Kemp. “As a judge, he will prioritize the business of the court and uphold justice, fairness, and proper decorum.”

James L. Prine earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and law degree from the Georgia State University College of Law. Since 2002, Prine has served as the Senior Assistant District Attorney of the Southern Judicial Court. He is active with the Thomasville Kiwanis Club, and he is a member of the South Georgia Intelligence Network Law Enforcement Group and Thomas County Bar Association. Prine earned the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller Recognition for Outstanding Record in the Prosecution of Offenders in 2006, and he was named the Georgia State Arson Control Board Prosecutor of the Year in 2014. He and his family reside in Thomasville.

Governor Kemp announced the kickoff of the state’s effort to encourage compliance with this year’s census, according to GPB News.

The aim of “Every. One. Counts” is to encourage all Georgia residents to respond to the questionnaire.

The campaign is lead by the state’s complete count committee, a group of politicians, civic leaders and nonprofit partners from across the state. The committee is working with the U.S. Census Bureau and local partners in Georgia to get the word out and secure strong participation in the 2020 census.

“This campaign will work closely with census-focused organizations at the state, local, and federal levels to ensure Georgia is best prepared for the next decade,” Kemp said in his announcement.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger‘s office has more information on the Special Election for Senate District 13, which was vacated by the death of Senator Greg Kirk.

The special election will be Feb. 4 for the district, which includes parts of Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, Lee, Sumter, Tift, Worth, Turner, and Wilcox counties. A run-off, if needed, will be March 3.

Qualifying for the special election will be in the Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State in Atlanta on Jan. 2 and 3 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Jan. 6 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The qualifying fee is $400.

Jan. 9 is the last day to register to vote in the special election.

From Georgia Recorder:

As of early Thursday afternoon, one person had qualified. Carden Summers, a Cordele Republican who ran for the seat in 2004, is the lone candidate so far. Qualifying ends at 1 p.m. Monday. The victor must immediately campaign for reelection later this year.

Former State Rep. Tom Buck (D-Columbus) has died, according to WRBL.

Buck served 38 years in the Georgia General Assembly, exiting in 2004. He was a hardcore Georgia Democrat when Democrats controlled the state. Buck worked his way into powerful committee chairmanships under longtime Speaker Tom Murphy.

Buck graduated from Columbus High School in 1955. And attended Emory University for his undergraduate degree and Emory Law School, graduating in 1962.

Buck first won election to the House in 1966, Buck was first elected to the statehouse in 1966 when he was persuaded to run for a seat held by Jack Brinkley, who ran successfully for Congress.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp called it a loss for the state. He was coming into the General Assembly as Buck was getting ready to leave at the turn of the century.

“Tom Buck treated me so well my first year up here,” Kemp said Thursday in his Capitol office. “A lot of people don’t realize this but he was good friends with my wife’s dad, Bob Argo. They served together for a long time in the House. We have sort of a family connection there. He was a great friend, a great colleague that I had the opportunity to serve with.”

Kemp said he got to spend some time with him back in the early 2000s.

“He’s just a great Georgian,” the governor said. “And served that area very, very well. Good Man.”

Current Georgia House Speaker David Ralston echoed those sentiments.

“Tom Buck was truly one of the finest leaders to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives,” Ralston said in a statement. “His knowledge of state government, particularly the budget, was unrivaled. He brought a strong appreciation of our state’s history to his work. I will always consider his integrity, honesty, and love of public service to a model of legislative leadership.”

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

“Tom Buck was a wonderful person,” state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, told the Ledger-Enquirer. “I considered him a friend. His contributions are widely spread all over Columbus. He had a significant amount of influence in the legislature.”

As chairman of the Georgia House Ways and Means Committee, Buck played a part in funding major public facilities that have contributed to the growth of Columbus, such as the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, the Columbus Convention & Trade Center and the Columbus Civic Center, Smyre said.

The civic center’s funding through a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was possible because Buck helped change the law that allows such revenue to be used for capital projects, state Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City, told the L-E.

Sales tax on cars will be charged at a lower rate this year, according to Georgia Recorder.

The car sales tax rate has been reduced from 7 percent to 6.6 percent because of the passing of Senate Bill 65, which became law on Jan. 1.

The bill sponsored by Sen.Tyler Harper, R–Ocilla, also changes how tax value is determined for used vehicles.

Used cars will be taxed based on their sales price instead of their fair market value, as in previous years.

Cars sold through used-car dealers who finance the sale are exempted from the rule.

State Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) said a tax on vaping supplies might come before the legislature this year, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said during the Rome City Commission’s annual Hometown Connection Delegation Breakfast that they should expect to see legislation this year for a 5-cent-per-fluid-milliliter excise tax on consumable vapor products containing nicotine.

“I talked a lot about this a year ago,” Hufstetler said, adding that he also supports raising the minimum age to buy tobacco and vaping products to 21. “(The vaping industry) is creating instant addicts out of our college and high school kids.”

[Georgia Municipal Association] Charlotte Davis said that in addition to the tax, the GMA would like to see Rome and other cities expand the prohibition of smoking into outdoor facilities such as public parks.

“About 36 cities have set local ordinances trying to regulate vaping products similarly to how they regulate tobacco products,” Davis said. “What we’ve seen so far is treating vaping products like tobacco products through Georgia’s Smokefree Air Act, which does have a local control piece, but vaping is not part of that.”

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson and city council members were formally sworn in, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Johnny Mercer Theatre was filled to capacity Thursday night as new Savannah Mayor Van Johnson and an almost all new slate of council members took their oaths of office at inauguration ceremonies.

Taking the oath of office as aldermen were Kesha Gibson-Carter, At-Large; Alicia Miller Blakely, Post 2, At-Large; Bernetta B. Lanier, District 1; Detric Leggett, District 2; Linda Wilder-Bryan, District 3; Nick Palumbo, District 4 and Kurtis Purtee, District 6.

This council is a first for the city, in that five of its members are African-American women.

Current council member for District 5, Estella Edwards Shabazz was sworn in for her third term as an alderman.

Advanced Politics – Running Out the Clock

Earlier this week, in the City of South Fulton, a municipal version of impeachment proceedings played out. From the AJC story published Monday:

A Monday hearing that could lead to the removal of a mayor and council member in the city of South Fulton was often raucous and unwieldy, but it ended with the fate of the two elected officials still unclear.

The hearing, to remove Mayor Bill Edwards and Councilwoman Helen Zenobia Willis, lasted more than nine hours as council members heard testimony from six people, including the city attorney, the city’s economic development director and a representative of Halperns’ Steak and Seafood Co. — the company at the heart of a development deal that led to the hearing.

Council members adjourned at 6:30 p.m. without taking a vote, and they could not say whether they would reconvene the hearing. The adjournment happened with no discussion after one council member left and Edwards cast the deciding vote.

Monday was December 30th, and the council adjourned without another meeting set for the next day. Here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s story from the AJC:

Since the hearing, the council term of one member who was pushing for the investigations has ended. Another council member, Khalid Kamau, said he didn’t think he had the votes to move forward with the removal proceedings and would not push for them to continue.

“I think it’s over,” he said.

The hearing ended Monday after an attorney representing the city, John Mrosek, rested his case without calling either Willis or Edwards to testify about their actions or intent. One councilwoman, Naeema Gilyard, had left the city break room where the proceedings were taking place.At the end of Mrosek’s arguments, with Gilyard absent, Edwards broke a 3-3 tie to adjourn the meeting and the elected officials left without discussing what they heard or voting to take any action.

Carmalitha Gumbs, a member of city council who voted to adjourn the hearing, said the continued investigations have put council members in a “very uncomfortable place.” She said barring criminal activity, it would be up to voters to decide to remove elected officials from office — not their colleagues.

“Maybe we need therapy, or to bring someone in to help,” she said. “I’m just praying we’re able to heal this as a community and move forward. We’re really divided. This has caused a lot of heartache.”

So, once the clock struck midnight, and the year began, a member who might have supported removing the Mayor and council member from office had their own term in office expire. The Mayor ran out the clock.

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