Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 30, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 30, 2016

On March 31, 1776, future First Lady Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John Adams, suggesting that a greater role for women be considered in the fight for Independence and establishment of the United States.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

On March 31, 1889, Gustave Eiffel led a group of government officials and press to the top of the Eiffel Tower by foot. It would open to the public nine days later.

On March 31, 1976, the Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution proposing a new Constitution of Georgia, which would be placed on the ballot for voter referendum on November 2, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States Senator David Perdue has released his second video in a series on the federal budget.

“The primary responsibility of Congress is to fund the federal government. In fact, Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution charges us to do just that.

After going through the full budget process for the first time last year, I can tell you it is more broken than expected.

Dysfunction and gridlock has enabled the President to overreach his Constitutional powers and led to runaway spending by both parties.

Washington has lost sight of the very principles the American people follow in their day-to-day lives to ensure fiscal discipline.

The result is what we see today: $19 trillion in debt, $100 trillion in future unfunded liabilities, and a budget that is no longer a governing document but simply a political document.

This can be changed. In fact, it must be changed right now. We are out of time for idle debate and partisan bickering. The crisis is upon us.

As we begin the budget cycle once again, there are a few guiding principles Washington should consider going forward.

The first step to solving our exploding debt crisis is to fix the budget process right now. We can no longer afford the gridlock—and this should not be a partisan effort.

The result is what we’ve seen play out year after year—funding patches, continuing resolutions, and omnibus bills, which have not been effective in controlling spending.

It’s time for Washington to be honest with the American people about the realities of our current financial catastrophe.

Completing a timely budget that funds our priorities as a country is the primary responsibility of Congress.

Folks, it’s time to finally come to the realization that until we fix the way Washington funds the federal government, more often than not, we will have to say ‘we cannot afford it.’”

You can watch the first of Sen. Perdue’s video series on principles for federal budgeting here.

If you still honestly wonder what many people find so objectionable about Congress, the state legislature, and politics in general, here’s an illustrative story, from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus State University and the National Infantry Museum lost funding in the most recent state budget because of the divisive actions of Republican Sen. Josh McKoon, according to a senior member of the local General Assembly delegation.

“You can only stick a stick in somebody’s eye so long before enough is enough,” Rep. Richard Smith said late Monday afternoon. “They are going to give it to somebody who has been supportive.”

McKoon just finished his sixth year in the General Assembly. He has been at odds this session with Republican Speaker of House David Ralston and Gov. Nathan Deal. At one point, McKoon introduced legislation to limit the term of the speaker but pulled it when the Senate leadership asked.

For the last three sessions, McKoon has been pushing religious liberty legislation. A compromised version of that effort passed the House and the Senate in the session that ended last week. Deal vetoed that bill Monday.“If Richard couldn’t get the House to sustain the position, whose fault is that? It’s not my fault,” McKoon said of the budget. “My job is to advocate for the budget position in the Senate. That’s the way it works. … This just sounds to me like Richard feels like he got thrown under the bus last week and now he thinks it’s my turn.”

Two weeks ago, Ralston’s Chief of Staff Spiro Amburn came to Smith’s legislative office and told him the Columbus State funding was coming out of the budget, Smith said. The reason given was McKoon’s actions in the General Assembly, Smith said.

“He said the remaining $6 million was going to be taken out,” Smith said. “The governor’s staff told him if the money was left in, the governor was going to do a line-item veto.”

Asked if he told McKoon about either of the meetings, Smith said he did not.

The Speaker of the House would not mention McKoon by name during an interview late Monday, but it was clear from his remarks he was talking about the Columbus senator.

“There is a political component here — and I am not talking about party,” Ralston said. “The budget process involves the House, the Senate, the governor’s office, and in this case the Board of Regents. Showing a cooperative spirit is part of that political component. If you are constantly tearing things apart, it can have repercussions in these areas.”

The Speaker of the House would not mention McKoon by name during an interview late Monday, but it was clear from his remarks he was talking about the Columbus senator.

“There is a political component here — and I am not talking about party,” Ralston said. “The budget process involves the House, the Senate, the governor’s office, and in this case the Board of Regents. Showing a cooperative spirit is part of that political component. If you are constantly tearing things apart, it can have repercussions in these areas.”

So, let’s review McKoon’s major sins against the Atlanta governing cartel.

First, he spent several years pursuing ethics reform that was approved by more than 87% of Republican Primary voters and 72% of Democratic Primary voters in the 2012 General Primary Election.

Then, he spent two years pursuing passage of religious freedom legislation that was endorsed by Republican Party Conventions in 11 of 14 Congressional Districts, and passed in every district in which a supporting resolution was introduced.

In short, the story is that residents of the Columbus area are being punished by the withholding of their tax dollars because McKoon championed legislation that legislative leadership disapproved of.

Molest some children, go to jail, and collect your city pension sure sounds wrong, but it’s happening in Kennesaw, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Kennesaw city officials say their hands are tied over former Mayor and City Councilman Leonard Church’s pension, which he continues to collect from prison where he is serving 18 years for child molestation and related crimes. Church’s pension amounts to $501.94 a month, according to a city spokesperson.

“There’s a state law … that allows for a reduction or elimination of a pension only for certain offenses and child molestation, unfortunately, is not one of those,” said Amy Henderson, a spokesperson for the Georgia Municipal Association, which administrates Kennesaw’s pension program.

Had Church been convicted of murder, voluntary manslaughter, certain drug-related offenses or a crime related to the office he held, such as corruption, he could have had his pension stripped.

The Cobb County Republican Party passed some resolutions in last weekend’s County Convention, again from the MDJ.

Of the four resolutions adopted by the Cobb GOP at its recent county convention, one that received unanimous approval urged civility in political discourse.

The resolution called for engaging “in civil debate and diplomatic discussion” and committed during the presidential primary to “avoid speech and behavior at all levels that is unbecoming of the Grand Old Party, and we will strive to set a good example for our children and the nations of the world, many of whom have modeled their political systems after our own.”

Cobb GOP Chair Rose Wing said the resolution was in the spirit of Ronald Reagan’s comment “that person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally; not a 20 percent traitor.”

Wing said it’s OK to agree to disagree.

“That’s what makes us Republicans because we do believe in that form of individual responsibility and individuality, and we are able to agree to disagree, but when it comes back around, we’re all still Republicans and we unify behind our candidate.”

Gwinnett County’s Drug Court held graduation ceremonies for twelve particpants this week, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Several of those participants who graduated from the program Monday night noted in exit surveys that they felt their lives were resuming. Yes, they had paperwork wipe drug arrests from their records. But the program also took away the drugs that got them in trouble with the law in the first place and put them on paths toward sobriety.

“This program gave me my life back. I don’t wake up hating myself,” one participant, identified only as Wakif, wrote in his survey.

One graduate after another praised the program, which is run by Gwinnett County Superior Court Judges Kathy Schrader and Tom Davis, for forcing them to give up drugs.

“Tonight is a special night,” Schrader said. “Tonight, we honor some of our graduates as they come out of our cocoon and take steps back into the real world. It’s graduation from drug court, but it’s not the end of the growth, of the transformation.”

“I don’t care why come in or when you come in. But if you’ll just let us work with you, if you’ll just let these people up here do their hard magic, you’ll be here for the right reason at some point or another,” Davis said.

After Governor Deal said he would veto House Bill 757, conservatives held a press conference at the Capitol to discuss plans to rally their supporters and come back next year.

Conservative groups accused Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal of turning his back on people of faith by vetoing a “religious freedom” bill and vowed Tuesday to keep up the fight for years to come.

“This is only the beginning,” said Virginia Galloway, who represents the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Georgia.

“There was an economic threat that was put on Georgia by Disney, the NFL and any other person in Hollywood,” said Garland Hunt, a pastor at The Father’s House in Norcross. “Because of economics, he faltered.”

John Wilcher will take office as the new Sheriff in Chatham County, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Wilcher, a 40-year-veteran of the sheriff’s department who retired in 2014, got 61 percent of the vote, while his opponent, incumbent Roy Harris, received 39 percent.

“I think the public has spoken that they want change,” Wilcher said from his victory party at Fiddlers’ Seafood Southside.

After conceding to Wilcher with a speech to supporters at the Holiday Inn Express on East Bay Street, Harris said he thought low voter turnout sank his campaign. Only about 15 percent of Chatham County’s 131,855 voters participated in the runoff.

Wilcher, 71, a former colonel and jail administrator at the department, had been campaigning on promises of boosting employee morale and fixing in-house issues before stretching resources to help outside agencies.

Both men will be on the ballot again, as Republicans, in a May 24 primary. And two of their rivals edged out in a special election March 1, Democrats McArthur Holmes and Kim Middleton, will be on the ballot then, too.

Chatham County’s next four-year sheriff won’t be elected until November, when voters decide between the two primary winners.

Harris said he plans to push forward and expects to fare better in the primary than he did Tuesday.

And Wilcher says he’s gearing up for the primary, too, “hitting the ground running” this morning.

County attorneys have said Wilcher can take office within a matter of days, and the sheriff-elect says he wants to get a transition with Harris shored up first.

In House District 162, a Special Election will go to a runoff between Carl Gilliard, who took 46.35% of the vote, and Alicia Blakely, who earned 28.87% of votes. From the SMN,

According to unofficial results, a little more than 12 percent — 2,830 — of the district’s 22,835 voters cast ballots in the special election.

After the results were announced, Gilliard thanked the voters who supported him and said he’s ready to get started speaking with them more about the issues that face the district — among them job creation and expansion of the Port of Savannah.

“I am ultimately prepared to move forward, to move the issues that we have on our plate,” Gilliard said. “We’re set for this race.”

Blakely did not return calls for comment.

In Tucker’s runoff elections for City Council, Matt Robbins won the election to District 2, Post 1 and Noelle Monfredini was elected to District 2, Post 2.

Sandy Springs will hold a special election to fill a vacant City Council seat for District 3 on May 24, 2016.

That is the same date as the state primary election. However, all city special election voting on Election Day will be done at a single, separate voting place: the so-called Round Building in Hammond Park, 6005 Glenridge Drive. That means people wanting to vote in both the city election and the state primary will have to visit two different polling places that day.

The city has also set early voting to run May 2-20 at the county’s North Fulton Annex, 7741 Roswell Road. The city may expand the early voting dates after City Council member Andy Bauman requested a review of the feasibility. Absentee balloting is also available.

For candidates, the qualifying period is April 13-15.

Longtime Sandy Springs resident Suzi Voyles will run for the District 3 Sandy Springs City Council seat.

Suzi Voyles, a longtime resident of Sandy Springs, has declared her intention to run for the District 3 Sandy Springs City Council seat, which Graham McDonald vacated March 11 to run for the District 52 Georgia House post. She is the second person to publicly announce her candidacy for the council seat, joining Joe Houseman, who declared his candidacy March 17. A special election is set for a date to be determined.

For the last 30 years Voyles and her husband, Jim, have lived in Sandy Springs and raised their three daughters in the community. For years, she has been on the front lines advocating for the city and working to make it a better place to live.

“My family and I prayerfully considered the possibilities of my running for the open seat combining my love for the city with my enthusiasm and experience to champion the policies that are necessary to make this a vibrant community for everyone,” she said in a news release.

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