Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 24, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 24, 2023

John Hancock was elected President of the Second Continental Congress on May 24, 1775.

The Brooklyn Bridge opened May 24, 1883.

Then-Lt. Governor Marvin Griffin announced his candidacy for Governor on May 24, 1954.

John Smoltz tied the record for most strikeouts by a Braves pitcher, throwing 15 Ks against Montreal Expos on May 24, 1992.

Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan, who was born on this day in 1941.

Seven years ago today, the 2016 General Primary and Nonpartisan General Election was held in Georgia. One year ago today, the 2022 General Primary elections were held.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Department of Driver Services is asking resident to wear clothes when applying for a new iPhone Driver’s license, according to WRDW.

“Attention, lovely people of the digital era!” the agency said Tuesday in an irreverent Facebook post. “Please take pictures with your clothes on when submitting them for your Digital Driver’s License and IDs. Let’s raise our virtual glasses and toast to the future Cheers to technology and keeping things classy!”

Georgia is the largest state to provide this capability to their residents enabling an easy, fast and secure way for Georgians to present their driver’s license or ID — without needing to take out their physical card.

“Get ready to reimagine the way you use your driver’s license,” said Department of Driver Services Commissioner Spencer R. Moore. “We value the opportunity to work with Apple and TSA to bring this convenience to our residents.”

A digital driver’s license is voluntary and comes at no additional cost, and Georgians must continue to carry their physical driver’s license or ID with them.

U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick (R-7) endorsed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for president, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“We need a warrior who will do whatever it takes to champion conservative values and safeguard the next generation,” McCormick said in a video posted to his campaign twitter page. “When it comes to the 2024 election, I’ve made my choice: Gov. Ron DeSantis is battle-tested and ready to be our next president.”

“He is bold, principled and has a vision for the future. The governor will never back down. He will fight and he will win, and we will prosper.”

“This election is about trust. Who will empower the people, stop the Left’s woke agenda, spur economic growth and keep us safe,” McCormick said. “This election is about character. Who will serve with dignity, keep their word, remain faithful to our principles and make us proud?”

“This election is about winning. Who can fight and win against the radical left and their allies in the media? Who can earn victory in Georgia? Who can beat Joe Biden? Most of all, this election is not about the past. It’s about the future.”

The Gateway85 Community Improvement District honored former President Jimmy Carter, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The life of Jimmy Carter was celebrated during an event organized by the Gateway85 Community Improvement District on Tuesday morning. The CID will be hanging banners thanking the former president along the Jimmy Carter Boulevard corridor. Jason Carter, Ambassador Andrew Young, Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson, Norcross Mayor Craig Newton and officials from the CID, Habitat For Humanity and the community spoke during the event.

About 30 banners honoring the former president will be placed along Jimmy Carter Boulevard, between Buford Highway and Britt Road. The CID is paying for the banners, which cost about $200 apiece, Morsberger said.

Morsberger added that this is the first time any celebration has been held to honor the fact that Jimmy Carter Boulevard is named for the former president. Even when Gwinnett leaders changed the road’s name in the 1970s, shortly after Carter was elected president in 1976, no celebration was held, according to the CID’s leader.

“They just did it quick and Carter had just gotten elected, and they did it within two weeks of his election,” Morsberger said. “There was nothing (to celebrate it), and I wanted to right that, so here we are.”

Jason Carter said his grandparents chose to focus on helping impoverished communities in African nations, through the Carter Center, because they saw similarities to their home in Plains.

“They didn’t approach those places as somewhere to send pity,” he said. “They looked at it and said, ‘That’s a 600-person village in Mali. I recognize a 600-person village because Plains only has 600 people in it, and I know for a fact that when I walk into that little community there, there’s going to be people in that community that can change the world.”

“And, what they have done really is not provide anything but partnership for all these years.”

Augusta says recent computer network outages resulted from cyber attacks, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson confirmed on Tuesday that some technical difficulties which started Sunday stem from a cyber crime unrelated to last week’s outage.

“We began an investigation and determined that we were the victim of unauthorized access to our system,” he said. “Our information technology department is working diligently to investigate the incident to confirm its impact on our systems and to restore full functionality to our systems as soon as possible.”

Attorney General Chris Carr (R-Cobb County) spoke about gangs in Savannah, according to WSAV.

“It’s like the governor said in the state of the state, you go after our children, we’re going after you,” said Chris Carr, Georgia Attorney General.

Tuesday, Carr met with local police and community leaders in Savannah to talk about gangs and how they recruit kids. That meeting came on the heels of the recent passage of a gang-crime bill. The Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act adds a mandatory 10 to 20 years for first offenders and 15 to 25 years for second-time offenders.

“Sixty to 90% of all violent crime is gang affiliated. And who are the communities that are most often terrorized by gangs? Lower-income, racially diverse and immigrant populations. It’s the paramount duty of government to protect person and property. That means all Georgians. Everybody deserves to be safe.”

Carr said Georgia has indicted sixty-three gang members since they launched their gang prosecution unit last July. The attorney general is touring the state to hear from local police and come up with more ideas to stop recruitment across county lines.

“You’re seeing more violence. Kids are younger that are getting involved in gangs and they’re getting more violent,” Carr said.

From WTOC:

The meeting follows the creation of Georgia’s Gang Prosecution Unit and the recent signing of Senate Bill 44 which increases penalties for recruiting minors into criminal gangs.

“We have jurisdictions around this state where some prosecutors aren’t prosecuting certain laws. The gang statue is one of them. As I said, all Georgians deserve to be safe. And if a prosecutor chooses not to prosecute a gang statute, we aren’t going to hesitate to come in and do it.”

Western Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez apologized after her office violated a crime victim’s statutory rights, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The apology came in the wake of a hearing held May 19 in which Gonzalez’s office was accused of violating the victim’s rights under the Georgia Crime Victim’s Rights known as Marsy’s Law.

Western Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge Eric Norris determined the office had violated Marsy’s Law in its handling of the prosecution of rape and child molestation charges.

“We want to extend our sincerest apology for any actions that might have resulted in the victim and their family feeling as if they were not heard and their rights were violated. We are taking appropriate measures to improve our office protocols so that we address communication requests with victims in a timelier manner,” the DA noted.

The Marsey’s Law accusation was filed against the district attorney after rape and child molestation charges against Daniel were dismissed soon after a jury was seated in April to hear the allegations outlined in the indictment. The mother had testified she was “very frustrated” by the dismissal and she was more angry than hurt.

Providence Canyon State Park in Southwest Georgia is expanding, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

The state Board of Natural Resources voted Tuesday to purchase two parcels of land next to the park totaling just more than 1,700 acres for $3.3 million.

The larger of the two tracts – 1,488 acres – is being bought from private owners for $2.9 million. Most of the funding – $2.4 million – is coming through the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act, which voters approved in a 2018 referendum. The remaining $500,000 was donated by the Knobloch Family Foundation, Steve Friedman, the state Department of Natural Resources’ real estate chief, told board members.

The smaller parcel at 215 acres is priced at $409,000. The Nature Conservancy and Knobloch Foundation are contributing $150,000 each toward the purchase, while the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation will supply the remaining $109,000.

The two purchases will allow the park to expand its hiking trails and camping sites, Friedman said.

Providence Canyon State Park, renowned as the “Little Grand Canyon,” is located in Stewart County west of U.S. 27.

Georgia Commissioner of Natural Resources Mark Williams will leave the agency to join the Jekyll Island Authority, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

Williams announced his upcoming departure from the DNR Tuesday at the state Board of Natural Resources’ monthly meeting. At about the same time Williams was speaking, the Jekyll Island Authority board was naming him to succeed the retired Jones Hooks as executive director effective July 1, The Brunswick News reported Tuesday.

“It has been my absolute honor to serve you for 14 years,” an emotional Williams told DNR board members. “I’ve never dreaded a day’s work in this office.”

Williams will get to spend more time with his family in his new post. He lives in Wayne County, and the Republican represented House District 178 in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 until 2010.

From The Brunswick News:

“We are looking forward to having Commissioner Williams join us as JIA executive director,” said Dale Atkins, JIA board chairman, in a press release sent Tuesday. “I know I speak for the full board in saying how confident we feel in the experience Mark brings from his tenure with DNR and his years of service on the JIA board, and we believe he will continue to steward the island in this new role.”

Williams will begin in the new role July 1, replacing current executive director Jones Hooks. Hooks, who has served in the position since 2008, announced his retirement in February.

Base compensation will be set at $250,000 with a performance incentive of up to $25,000, said board member Buster Evans, chair of the human resources committee.

Williams will also receive a vehicle allowance of up to $10,000 annually.

The board voted to approve a three-year employment agreement.

“Marty, the girls and I congratulate Commissioner Mark Williams on this great opportunity and want to thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the people of our state,” said Gov. Brian Kemp in a statement sent Tuesday. “Under his leadership, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has made great strides in conserving the beautiful assets of our state and our shared natural heritage.

“With a record of service stretching back to his time in the Georgia House of Representatives and through his contributions on many boards and authorities, he has impacted our state in a significant and lasting way. We are thankful for all Mark has done and wish him and Pam well as they continue to promote our natural wonders through his new role.”

State Rep. Mesha Mainor (D-Atlanta) is under fire by fellow Democrats, according to the AJC.

Many Democrats see her as a traitor to the party’s core ideals, an attention-seeking opportunist pursuing her own political agenda. They’re recruiting candidates to run against her, with one senator offering a $1,000 donation to jump-start the campaign of whoever steps up.

“I’m not a puppet. No one tells me how to do anything,” Mainor said. “Some of my Republican friends, they joke a lot, saying. ‘You should become a Republican.’ I’ve never thought about that. I want the Democrats to change.”

Rather than backing down, Mainor hopes she can use her maverick reputation and support for school choice to win higher office someday. She said she would consider a run for state schools superintendent.

“We were screaming bloody murder during session, saying, ‘Please don’t vote for this,’ ” said Minority Leader James Beverly, a Democrat from Macon. “When it’s a value proposition around education or around elections, that becomes extremely important for you to stick with us.”

No Democrat votes with Republicans more often than Mainor, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of every vote on bills during this year’s legislative session.

Mainor voted “yes” on 95% of legislation in the Republican-controlled state House, including GOP-backed bills to allow $6,500 private school vouchers, create a state board to investigate district attorneys, ban government COVID-19 vaccination requirements and remove bipartisan appointments to local election boards.

Almost all other Democrats opposed each of those measures. In comparison with Mainor, Beverly voted “yes” on 89% of bills that reached votes in the state House, most of which were bipartisan and uncontroversial.

“Every election year I hear ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but do they? I see every other minority being prioritized except Black children living in poverty that can’t read,” Mainor said in a video she posted on Twitter. “We’ll send a million dollars to the border for immigrant services, but Black communities? Not even a shout-out.”

No one has stepped up yet to run against Mainor next year after she defeated two Democrats in the 2022 primary with 65% of the vote.

Statesboro City Council may revise their alcohol ordinance to regulate “event centers,” according to the Statesboro Herald.

“The city could enact an ordinance requiring event centers that do not have a valid alcohol license to obtain a permit to operate,” City Attorney Cain Smith told the mayor and council during their May 16 work session.  “What we’re talking about here are these places that conduct either ticketed events or events for hire.”

Statesboro’s existing code of ordinances refers to “event venues” only in reference to a kind of alcoholic beverage serving license. Event venues that pay for an alcohol license, as a condition of receiving it, already open themselves to inspection by Statesboro Fire Department personnel and to visits from the Police Department.

During a previous meeting, District 1 Councilmember Phil Boyum complained that places trying to operate as bars without having a license are cropping up again as they did in the past, finding ways around the city’s alcohol laws. Last week, Boyum said at first that he didn’t think “ticketed events” should be allowed except at places such as the Blue Room – a privately owned music and events venue that does have an alcohol license – and Averitt Center for the Arts facilities.

“Now on the other hand, we have these rental facilities,” Boyum said. “These places are pretending to be the Blue Room, they’re doing these ticketed events, they don’t have the appropriate security, and that’s the problem. … This has been a problem for a decade.”

Such places, he said, also lack trained bartenders and servers, while establishments with pouring licenses are required to provide Training for Intervention Procedures, or TIPS, for their employees. This is meant to prevent serving people under the legal drinking age of 21 and those who are already intoxicated.

Allowing rented-out facilities to bypass all the requirements is unfair to properly licensed places, Boyum argued. But Mayor Jonathan McCollar noted that some legitimate organizations host ticketed events.

The Dougherty County Health Department will offer free Narcan five days a week, according to the Albany Herald.

You can now access free Narcan spray five days a week at the Dougherty County Health Department thanks to a recent partnership with the Southwest Health District.

One squirt of this nasal spray can reverse an opioid overdose. In springtime 2022, there were 60 reported overdoses. So far in 2023, there’s been 50.

“We average about three a week. Just this year alone, we have given out 150 twin packs of Narcan here in Dougherty County. Like I said, Narcan is available for free at the Dougherty County Health Department and each of the 14 counties,” said Phyllis Rolle, Public Health Analyst.

“Last year, we did have 33 overall drug overdoses, and 25 of those were opioid-related. And this year, we are seeing a little less than what we saw last year. So, I think it is helping us this year and it’s a bit effective so yes. I like to think of Narcan as being the drug of a second chance because if they have that Narcan on hand, that does give them a chance to be revived and taken to the hospital to give them the treatment they need to overcome this addiction,” Rolle said.

“Narcan is a drug that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose, and it comes in a twin pack of nasal spray. One pack is one dose, and you just put one squirt in each nostril. You turn the person over to a recovery position that’s on their side and then you call 911 for help,” Rolle said.

It’s available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dougherty County Health Department, located at 1710 S. Slappey Blvd, Albany.

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