Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 8, 2024


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 8, 2024

On March 10, 1734, a group of German immigrants reached the mouth of the Savannah River, from where they would proceed on to Savannah. Today, the Georgia Salzburgers Society works to preserve the Salzburger heritage and traditions in Georgia.

On March 11, 1779, Congress created the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

On March 7, 1861, delegates to the Georgia Secession Convention reconvened in Savannah to adopt a new state Constitution. A resolution offering to host the Confederate Capitol did not pass.

On March 11, 1861, the Confederate Congress, assembled in Montgomery, Alabama, adopted the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. Today the original signed manuscript of the Confederate Constitution is in the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries.

On March 9, 1862, CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, a Union ironclad, fought to a draw in the Chesapeake Bay.

On March 9, 1866, Governor Charles Jones Jenkins signed two pieces of legislation dealing with African-Americans, one recognized their marriages, the other legitimized children born to African-American couples prior to the act and required parents to maintain their children in the same way whites were required.

On March 10, 1866, Governor Charles Jones Jenkins signed legislation allowing women to have bank accounts separate from their husbands as long as the balance was less than $2000; an earlier act set the limit at $1000.

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first speech over his new invention, the telephone.

March 8, 1862 saw the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, VA, take ninety-eight hits from Union warships without sinking. Virginia sank USS Cumberland after ramming it, blew up USS Congress, and ran USS Minnesota aground. It was the worst day in US Naval history at that time.

Thomas B. Murphy was born on March 10, 1924 in Bremen, Georgia and would first be elected to office in the 1950s, winning a seat on the Bremen Board of Education. In 1960, Murphy ran for the State House facing no opposition and was sworn in in 1961. In 1973, he became Speaker Murphy and would hold the post until Bill Heath, a Republican, beat him in the November 2002 General Election.

Murphy held the top House seat for a longer consecutive term than anyone in any American state legislature. He died on December 17, 2007.

Bobby Fischer, the Eleventh World Champion of Chess, was born on March 9, 1943 and is considered by many the greatest player of all time.

Governor Ellis Arnall signed two important pieces of legislation on March 9, 1945. The first created the Georgia Ports Authority, with its first project being the expansion of the Port of Savannah. The second authorized the placement of a referendum to adopt a new state Constitution (in the form of a single Amendment to the Constitution of 1877) on the ballot in a Special Election to be held August 7, 1945.

On March 8, 1946, a conference convened on Wilmington Island, near Savannah, that would lead to the creation of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commonly called the World Bank.

On March 8, 1946, a special train arrived at Savannah’s Union Station from Washington, holding nearly 300 delegates, government officials, technical experts and reporters from 35 nations. Thousands of Savannahians watched as a 100-car motorcade rolled along flag-bedecked streets to the General Oglethorpe Hotel on Wilmington Island.

Treasury Secretary Fred M. Vinson headed the American delegation; the British were led by John Maynard Keynes, “the father of modern macroeconomics.”

The stakes were enormous.

Two years earlier, as World War II neared its murderous end, the winning Allies pondered the nature of the postwar global economy. The United States was emerging as the leader of the free world, largely supplanting the British Empire, gravely weakened by the war.

The IMF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (better known as the World Bank) were born at a July 1944 conference in Bretton Woods, N.H., where 44 countries established rules for the global monetary system.

The IMF was intended to promote international economic cooperation and secure global financial stability, providing countries with short-term loans. The World Bank would offer long-term loans to assist developing countries in building dams, roads and other physical capital.

The Bretton Woods agreements were ratified internationally by December 1945. Vinson, seeking a site for the new organizations’ inaugural meetings, sent Treasury agents around the country. “They made some fine reports on Savannah,” he later told the Morning News. He had never visited the city.

On March 7, 1965, a group of marchers led by Martin Luther King, Jr., met Alabama State Troopers on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

“I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick… I thought I saw death.”

—John Lewis, SNCC leader

John Lewis, now the United States Congressman from the Fifth District was in the front row wearing a light-colored overcoat and backpack.

GaVoice talked to Lewis about what was in his backpack on that day.

On March 9, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation setting the Georgia minimum wage at $1.25 per hour.

On March 8, 1982, President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “an evil empire” for the second time, in an address to the National Association of Evangelicals.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Candidate Qualifying and Early Voting in the March 12, 2024 Presidential Preference Primary end today, according to The Brunswick News.

Several candidates have qualified through the Glynn County Board of Elections, but Elections and Registration Director Chris Channell said the two main parties qualify their own candidates and must turn in their names at noon today.

Patrick Duncan, chairman of the local Republican party, said the party would release a full list of names to the elections board at around 12:30 p.m. today after qualifying ends. Olga McKenzie, chairwoman of the county Democratic party, said her party would also release the full list today.

Multiple candidates announced bids for election or reelection this week, including John Madala, a Republican who plans to seek re-election to his District 3 seat on the Glynn County School Board.

Among those who qualified Thursday was Patti Hewitt, a Democrat who plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1. No Republicans had qualified to run against Carter in the primary as of Thursday.

The deadline to register to vote in the party primaries is April 22 and early voting runs from April 29 to May 17. Primary Election Day is May 21. Currently, the deadline to register for the general election is Oct. 7 and early voting will run from Oct. 15 to Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5.

The article goes on to note that State Rep. Buddy DeLoach has a General Election opponent, while State Rep. Steven Sainz (R) has two Primary Election opponents.

From the AJC:

So far, over 370,000 voters have cast ballots in-person as early voting comes to a close. An additional 22,000 voters have returned absentee ballots.

WTVM in Columbus profiles three candidates for the House District 139 seat vacated by the death of Rules Committee Chair Richard Smith (R).

There are four candidates hoping to finish out the term previously held by Richard Smith. Smith died in late January from the flu.

“My whole life has been about volunteering and making community on a small and large scale,” said Republican candidate Carmen Rice.

“One of The reasons I’m running is because this seat allows me to work for my community,” said Republican candidate Sean Knox.

“I want to go to work alright? Listen I’m a retired military officer, I don’t have time to play games. I want to go to work for our district,” said independent candidate Robert Mallard.

We were not able to catch up with oral and facial surgeon Dr. Don Moeller – he had back to back surgeries scheduled today.

All four candidates will run together in the special election set for April 9th.

If no one wins a majority of the vote, the two candidates with the most votes will face each other in a runoff set for May 7th.

Former President Donald Trump will host a rally in Rome, Georgia tomorrow, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Expect delays and street closings Saturday for former President Donald Trump’s rally in downtown Rome, just days ahead of Georgia’s presidential preference primary on Tuesday.

Tickets are required, but they’re free. They’re available, two per mobile number, online through the Trump website:

While the rally doesn’t start until 5 p.m., doors open at 11 a.m. and local officials are preparing for a major influx of people and traffic congestion all day. Over 20,000 people attended Trump’s 2020 rally at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport. The Forum’s capacity is about 4,500, but the Town Green in front of it can likely hold a few thousand more.

Rome and Floyd County police, along with the sheriff’s office, county emergency management agency and Georgia State Patrol, are working together with the Secret Service on the plans.

“Attendees are asked to prepare for the event much like visiting an airport prior to arriving at security checkpoints — no sticks, no umbrellas, no liquids, no chairs, no cigarette lighters nor any weapons of any type will be permitted past the event entry screening area,” a memo from Rome Police Chief Denise Downer McKinney reads. “No overnight camping is permitted at the Town Green or in the downtown Rome area.”

President Joe Biden will be holding a rally of his own on Saturday in the metro Atlanta area.

Democrat Christian Wise Smith said he plans to qualify to run against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, according to the AJC.

Christian Wise Smith said he plans to qualify to challenge Willis in the Democratic primary. A former city solicitor, he finished in third-place to Willis in 2020 in the race for the county’s top prosecutor and waged a failed campaign for attorney general in 2022.

Willis is the odds-on favorite. Fulton County is a Democratic stronghold, and she is one of the most recognizable political figures in the state, if not the nation. She has the advantage of incumbency and amassed a small fortune in her campaign account.

But Wise Smith could still present her a political headache by trying to turn the race into a proxy fight over her racketeering case that charged Trump and 18 others with conspiring to overturn President Joe Biden’s narrow 2020 victory in Georgia.

It’s still unclear if she’ll face a Republican opponent. Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler has led the push to draft a conservative attorney to challenge Willis. She called the November vote a “rare opportunity to restore balance” in the office.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the Trump case, is being challenged in the May 21, 2024 election, according to the AJC.

Civil rights attorney and talk radio host Robert Patillo plans to run against Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who has been overseeing the high-profile election interference case against former President Donald Trump and others.

Patillo plans to qualify as a candidate for the position on Thursday, according to multiple people with knowledge who declined to speak on the record. He is the former executive director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the social justice and civil rights group founded by Rev. Jesse Jackson. He’s also a criminal defense attorney, cable news pundit and a former candidate for statehouse who has previously billed himself as a conservative Democrat.

McAfee, a former Fulton and federal prosecutor, is running for a full, four-year term on the bench after being appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp in late 2022. His platform includes clearing the backlog of cases created by the pandemic, providing a path forward for nonviolent offenders and holding violent offenders accountable.

Patillo, meanwhile, plans to focus on promoting restorative justice programs for juvenile offenders, clearing cases and reducing wait times for trial and diversifying Fulton’s judicial bench. He does not initially appear to be challenging McAfee due to his work on the Trump case.

Are Catoosa County GOP leaders headed for the hoosegow? The county party still refuses to qualify candidates who do not meet their standards, according to the AJC.

The party has repeatedly flouted Superior Court Judge Don Thompson’s order requiring it to allow four candidates – including three incumbent county commissioners – to run with an “R” by their name in the deep-red county.

The judge told deputies to record the candidates being rejected with their bodycams for court records, and then threatened to slap a major fine on the Catoosa GOP if it doesn’t comply with his order on Friday.

The party seems to be spoiling for a fight, arguing that the government can’t compel a political party to give up its rights to select candidates.

“To some, this may seem like a radical or foreign concept, since many people have gotten used to the idea that GOP and Democrat politicians are unaccountable to any set of principles or policy outcomes, often to the anger of voters,” wrote Alex Johnson, the party’s attorney.

[Johnson] said Catoosa Republicans “don’t deserve fake candidates that force themselves upon organizations and people that would prefer to ‘drain the swamp’ and don’t agree with conduct such as endorsing Democrats, voting for tax increases.”

Commission candidate Steven Henry, one of four contenders turned away by the party, fired back in court. His attorney Bryan Tyson argued the local GOP has “invented their own reality” and willfully violated the judge’s order.

Chattooga and Pickens counties also recently adopted “accountability” rules that give party leaders more control over which candidates can run on the ballot with an “R” by their name, though it’s not clear if any office seekers in those counties were blocked from qualifying.

Tyson, Henry’s attorney, said it’s cut and dry.

“The fact the Catoosa County GOP continues to refuse to qualify Republican candidates in the face of multiple court orders giving them an opportunity to change their behavior is staggering,” he said. “We expect the court will order appropriate remedies tomorrow.”

From the (Chattanooga) Times-Free Press:

Superior Court Judge Don W. Thompson ruled following a hearing Tuesday the county party must place four candidates on the ballot for the May 21 Republican primary. The four were previously denied ballot qualification because party officials said they didn’t adhere to Republican principles.

The four candidates include three incumbent members of the Catoosa County Board of Commissioners: Chair Larry Black; Vanita Hullander, the District 3 commissioner representing a north central portion of the county; and Jeff Long, who represents District 1, the western portion of the county. The fourth candidate, Steven Henry, formerly chaired the commission.

Following Thompson’s Tuesday ruling, party Chair Joanna Hildreth issued a statement that seemed to indicate the party would defy the judge and continue denying the candidates a spot on the ballot.

On Thursday, Thompson doubled down on his orders during an evidentiary hearing, saying he would send deputies to enforce his order Friday morning and promising party leaders would be fined $1,000 per hour for each of the four petitioners denied qualification.

The deadline to qualify candidates for the May primary is noon Friday. A compliance hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m., and Thompson said his order would be enforced at 8:40 a.m.

From Local 3 News:

Judge Thompson told the county GOP Thursday they had until 8:30am Friday, the scheduled compliance hearing, to allow this. They continue to deny candidates Jeff Long, Vanita Hullander, Larry Black, and Steven Henry and will face repercussions.

“The judge said that for every hour they don’t qualify there is going to be a thousand dollar fine per member of the executive committee. He didn’t threaten jail time, but he did note that if there is contempt then he does have the ability to give jail time of up to twenty days,” said Catoosa County Attorney Jeremy Jones.

Judge Don Thompson has ordered Catoosa County deputies to escort the candidates when they re-submit the paperwork to qualify.

Judge Thompson has also ordered that those deputies turn on their body cameras during the encounter to make sure their qualifications are submitted.

If the local GOP party refuses to accept the qualifications again, they could be fined $1,000 an hour for each candidate who is denied.

Former Trump Campaign Brian Jack qualified for the Third Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-West Point), according to the AJC.

Brian Jack qualified Thursday to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson. He’s hoping a combination of Trump’s blessing and financial backing from the political network of another former boss, ex-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, helps him emerge from a crowded field.

Jack was the first candidate to be endorsed by Trump after he effectively won the GOP nomination after routing Nikki Haley in the Super Tuesday contests. He was one of the former president’s longest-serving advisers before jumping in the race.

A sixth-generation Georgian who graduated from Woodward Academy, Jack worked for former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, as a data specialist for the Republican National Committee and political analyst for the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC before he joined Ben Carson’s campaign in 2015.

Shortly after Carson ended his campaign, Jack landed in Trump’s camp and was assigned the painstaking task of wrangling delegates. He led the team that recruited pro-Trump delegates, one by one, to stave off a damaging nomination battle.

After Trump’s 2016 election, the Peachtree City native became the deputy White House political director and worked closely with two other Georgians: Nick Ayers, who was Vice President Mike Pence’s top aide, and Billy Kirkland, a top Pence strategist.

Jack becomes one of the most formidable candidates in the for the 3rd Congressional District seat, which stretches from Atlanta’s southwest suburbs to the Georgia-Alabama line.

Former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan jumped in the race weeks ago, and former state Rep. Philip Singleton joined the contest in January. Other Republican candidates include ex-state Sen. Mike Crane.

Democrats Val Almonord, Maura Keller and Rodney Moore are also in the running for the deep-red seat.

Note the photo credit in the story:-)

Under the Gold Dome Today

TBD Senate Rules: Upon Adj– 450 CAP
8:00 AM Cancelled- Senate Natl Res & Envt – 450 CAP
9:00 AM Senate Floor Session (LD 32) – Senate Chamber
10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD32) – House Chamber
11:00 AM Senate Finance – Mezz 1 CAP

Senate Bill 332 by State Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) passed the House and, if signed by Gov. Kemp, would revise the procedures for the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, according to the Associated Press via WRDW.

A Georgia commission with powers to discipline and remove prosecutors needs only Gov. Brian Kemp’s approval before it can begin operations, possibly disrupting Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

The state House voted 97-73 on Tuesday for Senate Bill 332, sending it to Kemp. The Republican governor has said he will sign the measure.

Though Kemp signed legislation last year creating the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, it was unable to begin operating.

[T]he state Supreme Court in November refused to approve rules governing its conduct.

Justices said they had “grave doubts” about their ability to regulate the duties of district attorneys beyond the practice of law.

Tuesday’s measure removes the requirement for Supreme Court approval.

“Once this bill’s passed, this commission will be able to begin its real work, which is bringing accountability to those rogue prosecuting attorneys who abuse their office, sexually harass their employees and do not show up for work,” Rep. Joseph Gullett, a Dallas Republican, told House members Tuesday.

The law would require district attorneys and solicitors general, who prosecute lower level cases in some counties, to evaluate each case on its own, instead of declining to prosecute classes of offenses. Opponents say that would mean prosecutors couldn’t use their discretion.

Senate Bill 464 by State Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Buford) would allot state funds for teachers to purchase supplies, according to Atlanta News First via WRDW.

Senate Bill 464 would require the State Board of Education to establish a program for the Department of Education to allocate funds for eligible teachers to purchase school supplies online.

“On average teachers are spending anywhere from $400-600 depending on what subject they teach over a thousand coming out of their pocket,” said Sen. Clint Dixon, (R–Gwinnett).

The same bill would also identify a universal reading screener that each public school and local school system must adopt and administer.

“So they can gauge if kids are reading proficiently at their own grade level and if you have thirteen different benchmarks it’s going to be tough to gauge which one is doing it right and which one is doing it wrong,” said Sen. Dixon.

The bill has passed the Georgia Senate and now in the House Education Committee.

Tybee Island Mayor Brian West discussed state legislation to address large-scale unpermitted events, according to WTOC.

One bill Tybee’s City Council has been asking for passed the Georgia state legislature, leaving it with one more step until it becomes official.

This bill will help the city pay for any damages or additional services needed during these unpermitted events. Senate Bill 443 would allow municipalities to hold promoters of unpermitted events accountable for any financial stresses on public resources and damages caused by the event.

It’s something Tybee’s City Council has been asking for in response to the unpermitted Orange Crush event, something Mayor Brian West says is harmful to the island.

He says when unpermitted events like Orange Crush happen, the city is left with all sorts of costs, ranging from sanitation to the need for additional law enforcement.

“This is a way for us to be able to fight back and recoup some of the costs,” Mayor West said. “It’s our police protection, we’re bringing in outside help. It’s the cost for overtime, it’s the cost for having to feed the officers that come in and having to house them. There’s the sanitation, you know, picking up trash.”

The bill is now on Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s desk, something West says he’s eagerly waiting for him to sign.

The Georgia Senate Public Safety Committee amended House Bill 301 to focus on whether state funding is available to “sanctuary cities,” according to the Associated Press via WTVM.

Some Georgia senators want to punish cities and counties that they say are illegally harboring immigrants who are in the country without permission by cutting off most state aid to the local government and removing elected officials from office.

The Senate Public Safety Committee voted 4-1 on Wednesday to rewrite House Bill 301, with supporters saying the move is needed to enforce a 2009 state law that outlaws so-called sanctuary cities and counties.

The Senate committee completely rewrote a bill that previously regulated penalties from speeding tickets issued by automated cameras. State Sen. Kim Jackson, a Stone Mountain Democrat, complained that she had no time to read the new language before the meeting, calling it “frustrating and disappointing.”

The new bill would let any Georgia resident sue, asking a judge to declare a city or county was violating the 2009 law. If a judge agrees, the state would cut off state aid, as well as federal aid it controls, except for a short list of emergency and health services. For example, a county or city would get no state money for building and maintaining roads.

Judges could restore funding if a local government repeals the offending policy. A judge would then be required to issue a permanent order barring the government from ever readopting any sanctuary policy.

Georgia Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones (R-Jackson) issued a statement on HB 301 as amended.

Lt. Governor Burt Jones issued a statement on House Bill 301, which passed the Senate Public Safety Committee today and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration. This legislation would bolster enforcement of Georgia’s existing law against sanctuary cities by rescinding sovereign immunity and immediately cease state funding for local governments that engage in sanctuary policies.

“Athens-Clarke County local officials failed to protect the greatest asset that their county has: the students at the University of Georgia,” said Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones. “Instead, they favored a radical agenda that puts the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of the citizens of Athens-Clarke County. They, along with Joe Biden and Washington Democrats who have fought to open our borders to an invasion from illegal immigrants, are responsible for every action by every illegal immigrant they’ve allowed to live freely in our communities. As part of our ongoing commitment to protect Georgians, we are taking a stand against those who attempt to implement sanctuary policies that violate the law and harbor criminals.”

Clarke County Sheriff John Q. Williams clarified the Department’s policy on interaction with federal immigration officials, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Williams’ office also issued a news release to clarify its policy, which was instituted in 2018 by former sheriff Ira Edwards.

Williams came under fire by some citizens at a rally in downtown Athens where the issue of undocumented immigrants was a core cause of protest. An immigrant who entered the U.S. unlawfully now sits in the county jail, charged with murdering 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley as she jogged on the University of Georgia campus last month.

Various media outlets, including Fox and the New York Post, reported that when Williams was campaigning for office in 2020 he said he had no intention of cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers.

Williams responded to the negative coverage on Thursday by saying “a lot of facts are being left out. It’s being painted one way.”

“The biggest thing is we realize there are some weaknesses in reporting. We tried to get data (on cases reported in Athens) back from ICE and that’s taking quite a few days and we still haven’t gotten it,” he said.

Williams said his office does notify ICE of undocumented immigrants because it is part of the normal booking process.

He also objected to any suggestion that his office supports Athens as a sanctuary city.

“There is no sheriff that has the authority to declare a sanctuary city. That is not in the sheriff’s purview. And one policy does not affect that either,” he said.

“Our policy reflects that ICE detainers are requests, not a court order or warrant. Holding a person based solely on an ICE detainer constitutes a warrantless arrest,” according to his statement.

“The policy does allow for detaining if a warrant or court order signed by a judge is issued,” the statement reads, adding that the sheriff’s office does not prevent ICE from picking up undocumented persons.

The issue now, according to the sheriff’s office, is to improve the record-keeping practices used to identify and track responses to “any interactions with subjects determined to be undocumented.”

Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Judge Gil McBride says they are close to clearing their case backlog, according to WTVM.

Judge Gil McBride oversees criminal cases and has been a longtime judge here in Muscogee County. He tells News Leader 9 that the district is seeing some light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to clearing the backlog of cases on the docket.

Former Chief Judge Gil McBride is talking about the court case backlog that’s been happening in Muscogee County since 2018.

He says it all started with a flood at the Government Center.

“We went for 9 months, from 2018 to 2019 with 7 judges sharing one or two courtrooms because of the floods and the damage,” says McBride.

While he says the COVID shutdown of no jury trials for 12 months did not help, he says the backlog should not be blamed on the pandemic.

“It’s unfair to blame it all on COVID, we entered the COVID pandemic with a major backlog,” says McBride.

He says there was a pause in hearing court cases, but crime didn’t slow down, leading to an overcrowded jail.

“The reality of it is you just can’t put a pause on crime or other business of the court, just because we don’t have courtrooms,” says McBride.

The Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit serves Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Talbot and Taylor Counties.

Meanwhile, Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Acting District Attorney Don Kelly said he will run for the seat held by DA Stacey Jackson, who is on medical leave, according to WTVM.

Acting District Attorney Don Kelly says he intends to run for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit in the 2024 election.

Kelly has been operating in the role since District Attorney Stacey Jackson filed a medical leave of absence last November.

He’s also worked as a prosecutor for 22 years and was hired as the Chief Assistant D-A by Jackson in 2022.

In a statement, Kelly says he made the decision to run after speaking with Jackson and his family.

“I am disappointed that Mr. Jackson is not able to run in this election. We started the task of rebuilding the District Attorney’s Office together, and I plan to continue and build upon his solid record of service to the citizens of our circuit. It is a record of accomplishment in which Mr. Jackson and his family can take immense pride. I will continue to focus on public safety, especially violent crimes, by holding those who commit crimes in our circuit responsible for their actions. I believe that my experience as a career prosecutor and my knowledge of our circuit make me uniquely qualified to lead the office as we deal with the surge in violent crime that followed the last election.”

The Ledger-Enquirer reports that DA Jackson is not running for reelection.

Beset by a serious illness and out on medical leave, Columbus District Attorney Stacey Jackson has decided not to run for a second term.

[Acting DA Kelly] said Jackson will remain district attorney as the election proceeds, his term in office concluding at the end of the year.

Kelly said that though Jackson is on medical leave, he is at home, and communicating with family and friends. The district attorney’s office has had to deal with widespread rumors of Jackson’s demise.

The office in an online post had to clarify his condition this week, writing, “Jackson has been under medical care, but he is very much still living. Please be respectful of Mr. Jackson, his office, and his family. Do not spread these rumors.”

Jackson, a native of Harris County, was appointed to the post after chaos in the local district attorney’s office led to the removal of former District Attorney Mark Jones, who in November 2021 pleaded guilty to misconduct. The governor suspended Jones after just 10 months in office.

Jones won election in 2020, defeating incumbent Julia Slater in the Democratic Primary with no further opposition.

Brooklet City Council clarified the Mayor’s role in employee supervision, according to the Statesboro Herald.

This follows the resignations last week of Post 5 Councilmember Johnathan Graham and Brooklet Municipal Court Solicitor Cain Smith, both from that position he held for more than a decade and the role of city attorney he held for less than a month. Graham submitted a resignation letter Friday, March 1, alleging “a disturbing pattern of behavior by Mayor Gwinnett,” including what Graham asserted, without giving details, were “questionable actions regarding water well usage and business licenses, and the complete disregard for the well-being and morale of the city staff.”

The directive also comes while Brooklet has a proposed new City Charter pending before the Georgia General Assembly that would remove the mayor’s day-to-day supervisory authority and provide for the mayor and council to hire a city manager.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Nicole Love Hendrickson delivered her State of the County address, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Hendrickson used her State of the County Address to highlight some of the county’s accomplishments and efforts to create opportunities for residents over the last year.

She also used it as an opportunity to put the spotlight on ongoing efforts to address two issues in particular: transit and affordable housing.

Transit will likely be a major issue facing Gwinnett voters later this year. Officially, Gwinnett commissioners have not called for a referendum, but they have signaled their intent to hold a voter this summer on whether a referendum should be called.

If the referendum gets placed on November election ballot, voters will have to decide whether to implement a 30-year, one-cent sales tax to raise about $17 billion to fund transit expansion efforts such as county-wide microtransit, a bus rapid transit route, new local bus routes, two airport shuttle routes and BRT-lite-style routes.

This will be the fifth time since 1971 that Gwinnett voters have been asked to make a decision on funding transit in the county, and third time in the last five-and-a-half years.

Each time a proposal to use sales tax funds to pay for transit in Gwinnett has come up in the past, it has been defeated.

“What do we have to lose,” Hendrickson told the Daily Post after her speech. “It costs us nothing to put a referendum on the ballot, but I think the longer we keep waiting, the more expensive it’s going to become. With the cost of good services, I mean inflation, we can’t keep waiting so we have to take our chance and put it on the ballot now.”

Chatham Area Transit will begin bus service to Port Wentworth, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“This is a very big moment for the city,” City Manager Steve Davis said at the time of approval. “In the traffic congestion that the city has been facing for years, there’s very limited that the staff can do at a local level, when you have state highways running through the city, but one of the things we can do is offer good alternatives for our commuters and residents that can pass through here.”

Growth is expected to come to the area, with the Hyundai plant starting production in late 2024. Economic Development Director James Touchton said adopting a transit system is critical to preparing for that future growth.

The expansion includes two fixed-route buses and will operate seven days a week, every hour. The service will connect to Old Port Wentworth on South Coastal Highway, International Trade Parkway, I-95/Augusta Road, Wood Meadow Apartments and Rice Hope.

Former Port Wentworth City Manager Edwin Booth is suing the city, according to WSAV.

A former Port Wentworth city manager is suing the city, claiming his employee agreement was not honored. Edwin Booth is seeking $150,000 in damages.

He resigned at a heated council meeting in February 2022 where six other employees also resigned.

The lawsuit states Booth was actually terminated due to the hiring of an interim city manager while Booth was technically still employed.

The suit also lists accusations against the mayor and some council members who [allegedly] threatened or pressured him to not fulfill his duties.

Pulaski County Sheriff Danny Brannen is running for reelection despite being under investigation, according to 13WMAZ.

Brannen qualified this week to run for a third term, according to the Secretary of State’s website. His challengers are Amanda Vaughn, a Hawkinsville police officer, Greg Hattaway, a contract instructor, Terry Hood, a deputy sheriff and Wayne Wiley, who is a retired Georgia State Patrol trooper.

In 2022, Governor Brian Kemp appointed a three-person committee to investigate whether Brannen was capable of performing his duties. He asked them to report back within 30 days. Kemp’s office won’t comment on why he launched the investigation. 13WMAZ reached out to Governor Kemp’s office to find out whether the committee has reported back to him but have not heard back at this time.

When we spoke to Brannen last year, he declined to comment. He and all four challengers are Republicans. The party primary happens May 21.

Five other Sheriffs in Middle Georgia face challengers, according to 13WMAZ.

They include Washington County Sheriff Joel Cochran who is running for his second term against Tennille pastor Henry Tanner.

Two people are running against Hancock County Sheriff Tomlyn Primus. This includes Frank Meeks, a retired contractor and Markello Meriweather, an intelligence analyst.

In Treutlen County, Sheriff Thomas Corbin also has a challenger in Kyle Strickland, the Soperton Chief of Police.

In Wheeler County, the McRae-Helena Police Chief Glen Giles is challenging incumbent sheriff Randy Rigdon.

Finally, the Bibb County Sheriff’s race will feature a series of challengers looking to unseat David Davis, who is looking for a fourth term in office. He will square off against Marshall Hughes, Ron Rodgers, Chris Patterson, Chris Paul and DeAndre Hall.

More from 13WMAZ:

In Houston County, the retirement of Sheriff Cullen Talton has opened the floodgates for candidates hoping to replace one of the longest-serving sheriffs in the entire United States.

That article includes more information on the challengers against Sheriff Talton and Bibb County Sheriff David Davis.

Shekita Tikori Maxwell qualified to run for Mayor of Macon-Bibb County against incumbent Lester Miller, according to 13WMAZ.

Miller is seeking a second term, and so far, Maxwell is his only challenger.

To qualify for the May 21 ballot, she and Miller had to pay a $3,000 qualifying fee.

In a Facebook post, she honored Women’s History Month, and highlighted her campaign slogan: “Maxwell Changing Macon”

“Women’s History Month recognizes and celebrates Women of every race, class and ethnic background whose roles and contributions in the body of History, authorities and requested by law, President Jimmy Carter, Georgia,” she wrote. “Let’s continue to make history… VOTE Shekita Maxwell for MAYOR [of] MACON-BIBB COUNTY, GEORGIA!”












Rivian announced it will pause plans to bring auto production to Georgia, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian will delay indefinitely plans to build a $5 billion EV plant east of Atlanta, the company has announced.

Instead, Rivian initially will begin building its new R2 midsize SUV model at its plant in Normal, Ill.

“Rivian’s Georgia plant remains an extremely important part of its strategy to scale production of R2 and R3,” the company wrote in a news release. “The timing for resuming construction is expected to be later to focus its teams on the capital-efficient launch of R2 in Normal, Illinois.”

Rivian announced plans to build the $5 billion plant in Georgia in December 2021 amid much fanfare. It was the largest economic development project ever to come to the Peach State at the time, although it was surpassed five months later by an announcement that Hyundai would build a $5.5 billion EV plant west of Savannah.

In exchange for creating 7,500 jobs, state and local economic development agencies offered Rivian $1.5 billion in incentives, including tax credits, a 25-year no-cost lease, and $198.1 million in site and road improvements on 1,978 acres.

“Rivian has restated its commitment to Georgia, and the state and JDA are in steady communication with Rivian regarding its manufacturing plans at Stanton Springs North,” the state Department of Economic Development and JDA wrote in a joint statement.

Rivian estimated that shifting production of the R2 to Illinois from Georgia will save the company more than $2.25 billion. The savings are expected to come from capital expenditures, product development investment, and supplier sourcing opportunities.

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

“Our Georgia site remains really important to us,” [CEO RJ] Scaringe said. “It’s core to the scaling across all these vehicles, between R2, R3 and R3X. And we’re so appreciative of all the partnership we’ve had there.”

Rivian did not give a timetable for restarting work on the Georgia plant, saying in a statement: “The timing for resuming construction is expected to be later.”

Rivian’s share price jumped after the company announced its new models, closing at $12.51, up 13%. That’s still far below the colossal stock valuation it held when it generated billions in a public offering in 2021. On the company’s first day of trading, Rivian shares closed at $100.73, giving it a total stock market valuation of almost $86 billion — at the time, bigger than Ford and slightly lower than General Motors.

The site near Social Circle has been expected to eventually hire 7,500 workers and produce up to 200,000 vehicles by the completion of its first phase later this year. A second planned phase would boost capacity for an additional 200,000 vehicles per year by 2030.

State and local governments were projected to spend more than $125 million to buy the nearly 2,000-acre (810-hectare) site near Social Circle for Rivian, clear trees and grade land, documents show. That work has been finished, with the state turning the site over to Rivian. The state also has completed most of $50 million in roadwork that it pledged. But signs for Rivian Parkway at a new traffic signal on U.S. 278 had been removed Thursday.

If the plant isn’t ultimately built, it would dent Gov. Brian Kemp’s goal of making Georgia a center of the electric vehicle industry. The pause at Rivian contrasts with rapid construction at Hyundai Motor Group’s $7.6 billion electric vehicle and battery complex near Savannah. The plant in Ellabell, announced in 2022, could grow to 8,500 employees. The company recently said it now aims to begin production later this year, instead of in 2025.

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