Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 2, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 2, 2015

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

On November 1, 1732, the Georgia Trustees met in London and chose the name and location of a new colony to be called Savannah.

Georgia and the Creeks Indians signed a treaty on November 1, 1783 giving Georgia control of all land between the Ogeechee and Oconee Rivers.

The United States Congress admitted Nevada as the 36th state on October 31, 1864. Kind of fitting, in a way.

Richard B. Russell, Jr. was born in Winder, Georgia on November 2, 1897.

In 1927, at age 29, Russell was named Speaker of the House – the youngest in Georgia history. In 1930, Russell easily won election as Georgia governor on his platform of reorganizing state government for economy and efficiency. Five months shy of his 34th birthday, Russell took the oath of office from his father, Georgia chief justice Richard B. Russell Sr. He became the youngest governor in Georgia history – a record that still stands. After Georgia U.S. Senator William Harris died in 1932, Gov. Russell named an interim replacement until the next general election, in which Russell himself became a candidate. Georgia voters elected their young governor to fill Harris’ unexpired term. When he arrived in Washington in January 1933, he was the nation’s youngest senator.

Russell had a long and storied career in the United States Senate, during which he served for many years as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, unofficial leader of the conservative Southern wing of the Democratic party and a chief architect of resistance to civil rights legislation. He also ran for President in 1952, winning the Florida primary.

The carving on Mount Rushmore was completed on October 31, 1941.

Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States on November 2, 1976.

The current Georgia Constitution was ratified on November 2, 1982 by the state’s voters.

President Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail to help his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her race for United States Senate from New York on October 31, 2000. On October 31, 2014, Bill Clinton came to Atlanta to campaign for Michelle Nunn for United States Senate.

On November 2, 2010, voters elected Republican Nathan Deal as Governor, and the GOP swept all of the statewide offices on the ballot.

Former United States Senator Fred Thompson has died at the age of 73. In January 2012, Thompson visited the Georgia State Capitol to endorse Newt Gingrich for President.

Fred Thompson Endorses Newt Gingrich Georgia

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The election to fill the State Senate District 20 seat vacated by former Sen. Ross Tolleson will be held December 1, 2015.

Four candidates for State House District 122 will be on tomorrow’s ballot in the Augusta area.

The special election for Columbia County Commission District 3 has centered on dealing with growth.

The election for Mayor of Carrollton has heated up, with Walt Hollingsworth spending nearly $25k out of his own pocket in his campaign.

In DeKalb County, voter will choose whether to amend the powers and appointment process for the DeKalb County Board of Ethics in tomorrow’s election.

The new legislation will:

Create an independent Board of Ethics. No longer will the Board of Ethics be appointed by the CEO and Board of Commissioners.

In addition to elected officials, all County employees, appointed officials and contractors must comply with the ethics standards.

The Ethics Board will hire an Ethics Officer to make certain all County officials and employees are aware of the standards. This ethics officer will monitor a hotline and report alleged ethical violations to the Board of Ethics.

The Board of Ethics has the power to fine, refer for prosecution and reprimand.

Mark Niesse of the AJC has more on the DeKalb Ethics Referendum:

If a majority votes yes, DeKalb’s CEO and county commission would lose their current ability to appoint the panel responsible for overseeing their behavior. Instead, a new DeKalb Board of Ethics would be chosen by various community organizations.

Approval of the measure also would take away the ethics board’s power to remove or suspend elected officials from office, which it has never done. But the board would gain the authority to fine ethics violators up to $1,000 and refer their cases for prosecution with the possibility of six months imprisonment upon conviction.

“Even if there’s nothing else to vote for, this is something of huge importance,” said former Board of Ethics member Patricia Killingsworth, who advocated for the overhaul. “You need to have stages of punishment that are appropriate, and our code didn’t have it. It was either a slap on the wrist, or you’re out of office.”

Board of Ethics Chairwoman Clara Black DeLay opposes the measure, in part because it permits anonymous complaints to be made to the ethics officer, which could result in frivolous and politically motivated allegations. She also said allowing community groups — the DeKalb Bar Association, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Leadership DeKalb and others — to pick board members would empower their special interests.

“It seems like it’s more for a political purpose by putting the people we want on the board that will get the results we seek,” she said. “If there’s a witch hunt afoot, they’ll have the right people in place to get the witch.”

Tomorrow morning, I’ll walk across the street to my voting precinct, as is my custom, and I’ll vote to pass the DeKalb Ethics Reform.

Speaking of DeKalb Ethics, it appears that at least one piece of the Bowers/Hyde report was incorrect.

DeKalb County’s acting CEO, Lee May, showed no fear standing in front of a hostile audience at Dunwoody City Hall last week, making his case that two of the state’s most prolific sleuths botched an allegation against him.

He didn’t spend taxpayer money on a massage and an adult movie, May told the audience. He paid with his own money. It’s right there on the hotel bill that the investigators attached as an exhibit to their damning 40-page report.

“They knew that information,” May said, “but yet they made it seem like I paid for a trip to Hawaii and a spa and a movie on the county, and that was never true.”

A woman on the second row interrupted him, saying she didn’t believe him. Moments later, she held up a handmade sign: “Lee May resign.” He didn’t flinch.

May had a point about the hotel charges, a review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found. The newspaper found no documentary evidence that May ever used county money to cover the expenses. The AJC found other inaccuracies in the report as well.

In the election for Mayor of Savannah, the Savannah Morning News has endorsed Eddie DeLoach over incumbent Mayor Edna Jackson, writing,

The administration of incumbent Mayor Edna Jackson has failed the community on public safety, competency and on leadership. Challenger Eddie DeLoach, a small business owner and a former Chatham County Commissioner, is the best hope to make needed changes over other challengers, which include Murray Silver and Louis Wilson.

The Morning News also has a review of the candidates for Mayor.

Congratulaions to Isaac Ortiz, a Savannah student who was elected Speaker of the House at the YMCA Youth Assembly.

Isaac’s been preparing for this position for a year — ever since he was voted by his peers to fill the role at last year’s assembly. He’s the first Latino and the first teen from Savannah to hold the position.

Audrey Rodriguez, who is Isaac’s aunt and director of youth development at the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, said she has had multiple teens try to get one of the noteworthy positions during her five years leading the Teen Achievers’ group — including governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the house — but Isaac is the first to win his campaign.

At the Youth Assembly, as Speaker of the House, Isaac will monitor the debate on the floor. Before the assembly, Isaac will add to his current workload dozens of bills and resolutions that other teens across Georgia have been writing for the past year.

The assembly allows the teens in attendance to address current social issues such as marijuana legalization and healthcare reform. Isaac said he’s excited about being around people who are as passionate at solving problems as he is.

“Even if it’s just mock,” he said. “I love it. There’s the atmosphere of hard work and hard thinking all the time.”

The upside in Snellville is that elections are almost over in the fighting-town.

Tom Witts, the city’s former mayor pro tem, accused Mayor Kelly Kautz during the forum of stirring racial tensions, when candidates were asked about divisions on the city council. She responded by pointing to his votes on minorities she has nominated for posts in the city.

“I’m sorry but I don’t believe there’s racism in our city — I do believe that the mayor has dealt in race-baiting and tried to make a divide that, personally, I don’t see,” said Witts before saying he owed his life to two African-American soldiers he served with in Vietnam.

Kautz said of her opponent, “Unfortunately Mr. Witts voted against 22 of the minorities that I attempted to put up for board appointments … I believe the division amongst council has a lot of do with personalities. I’ve attempted over and over to extend olive branches to members of council. If you look at the council minutes since Mr. Witts resigned, things have gone much more smoothly.”

In the closing moments of the forum, it came down again to Kautz and Witts.

“I’m asking you to ask yourself one question, ‘Am I pleased with the way our current mayor has managed the city and its image?’” Witts said in his closing comments. “If you are, then by all means Kelly Kautz deserves your vote. If you want a leader that’s going to unite Snellville and return our city to its rightful place as a leader among the cities in Gwinnett county, then I’m asking for your vote.”

Kautz recited a prepared closing statement before saying, “The attorney in me wants to respond to that, but I’ll stick to my statement.”

The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials says that Latino/Hispanic voters may face difficulties in voting in Hall County.

“Latinos with multiple last names is common,” Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, said.

And when last names don’t match up between a driver’s license, for instance, and a voter registration form, problems can arise.

Hyphens are also common in Latino surnames, Gonzalez said, presenting the same kind of trouble.

“It creates unnecessary barriers for Latino voters,” he added.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bibb County in a long-standing border dispute with Monroe County.

The Georgia Public Service Commission will consider a settlement between a consortium comprising Georgia Power and EMCs and the construction company responsible for the two new nuclear reactors being built at Plant Vogtle.

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