Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 20, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 20, 2023

Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 20, 1946.

President John F. Kennedy lifted the naval blockade of Cuba on November 20, 1962, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On November 20, 1975, Ronald Reagan announced he would run for President of the United States against incumbent Republican Gerald Ford. On May 4, 1976, Reagan won Georgia’s Presidential Primary with 68% over Ford.

Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the House on November 20, 1996.

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation placed Sapelo Island’s Hog Hammock community and Darien’s Grace Baptist Church on its 2024 “Places in Peril” list, according to The Brunswick News.

Hogg Hummock made the list because of new zoning laws the McIntosh County Commission passed in September that will allow houses as large as 3,000 square feet to be built in the district. That more than doubles the size of what zoning laws allowed previously, “which can contribute to land value increases that could further force the removal of the indigenous population,” a release from the Georgia Trust said.

The community was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. It is the last intact enclave of Gullah-Geechee people who are Black direct descendants of formerly enslaved people from West Africa.

The new zoning laws will drive up property values and therefore property taxes to the point that only wealthy, mostly White people will be able to afford to live in Hog Hammock, pushing the Geechee people off of their ancestral land, opponents of the zoning rules say.

“As with other Gullah Geechee communities, Hogg Hummock developed a distinct, interconnected culture of subsistence and cooperative living due in part to the relative isolation from communities on the mainland,” the Georgia Trust said.

The new zoning laws have been the center of controversy since the county commission voted Sept. 12 to pass the new zoning regulations that Geechee descendant residents of Sapelo said in a court filing are racially discriminatory. The request for a writ of mandamus seeks to compel public officials to correct what the residents say is an abuse of discretion and a violation of their constitutionally protected 14th Amendment rights.

Grace Baptist Church is on Vernon Square in downtown Darien and was once a significant institution within the community that was associated with several successful African American leaders, the Georgia Trust said. A founding trustee of the church, W.H. Rogers, was elected to Georgia legislature and served from 1902 to 1907.

From WTOC:

“What has historically happened to African American communities, and it can be done in a variety of ways, is a disturbing history where African Americans are forced out of their communities via zoning, via imminent domain, via coercive negotiation. It would be a real shame for this, for Hog Hammock to suffer the same fate of so many other African American communities,” The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation President and CEO Wright Mitchell said.

By placing Hog Hammock on this year’s list, Mitchell says he’s hoping more people will be aware of the issue he sees on Sapelo Island.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former First Lady of Georgia and the United States Rosalynn Carter has died, according to the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter, the closest adviser to Jimmy Carter during his one term as U.S. president and their four decades thereafter as global humanitarians, has died at the age of 96.

The Carter Center said she died Sunday after living with dementia and suffering many months of declining health. The statement announcing her death said she “died peacefully, with family by her side” at 2:10 p.m. at her home in the rural south Georgia community of Plains. It said a schedule of memorial events and funeral preparations would be released later.

“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” Carter said in the statement. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”

The Carters were married for more than 77 years, forging what they both described as a “full partnership.” Unlike many previous first ladies, Rosalynn sat in on Cabinet meetings, spoke out on controversial issues and represented her husband on foreign trips. Aides to President Carter sometimes referred to her — privately — as “co-president.”

As honorary chairwoman of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, she once testified before a Senate subcommittee, becoming the first first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to address a congressional panel. She was back in Washington in 2007 to push Congress for improved mental health coverage, saying, “We’ve been working on this for so long, it finally seems to be in reach.”

She said she developed her interest in mental health during her husband’s campaigns for Georgia governor.

“I used to come home and say to Jimmy, ‘Why are people telling me their problems?’ And he said, ‘Because you may be the only person they’ll ever see who may be close to someone who can help them,’” she explained.

From USA Today via the Savannah Morning News:

Throughout the political career of her husband, Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter was his most fervent supporter. She campaigned aggressively for him, energizing supporters and once admitted being more adamant about winning than he was.

After her husband was elected president in 1976, Carter transformed the role of first lady into a full-time job.

She was the first presidential spouse to set up an office in the East Wing and hire a full staff. Many recalled Rosalynn Carter carrying a brief case filled with papers to the office every day.

She was a trusted adviser to the president, a participant in foreign and domestic affairs and often set up weekly meetings with Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office,  Kate Anderson Brower, author of “First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies,” told USA TODAY in 2018.

Carter, 96, entered hospice care Friday after it was revealed she was diagnosed with dementia in May.

Jimmy Carter entered hospice care in February after a series of short hospital stays, and their grandson, Jason Carter, told USA TODAY in September that his grandparents were nearing an end.

Kathy Cade, who served as special projects director to the first lady, said Carter was inspired to pursue mental health reform after watching a distant cousin suffer mental illness when she was a child.

When Jimmy Carter ran for governor of Georgia, Rosalynn Carter discovered how public programs for people with mental illness were abysmal, leaving families struggling to find care.

In 1977, Carter became honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health.

The position allowed Carter to continue her work in ending the mental crisis that she started as first lady of Georgia.

She led efforts to pass the Mental Health Systems Act in 1980, which provides grants to community mental health centers.

From WSAV:

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a statement on the passing of former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

“Marty, the girls, and I join all Georgians and the entire nation in mourning the loss of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.”

“A proud native Georgian, she had an indelible impact on our state and nation a a First Lady to both. Working alongside her husband, she championed mental health services and promoted the state she loved across the globe. Their marriage, spanning 77 years, stands as a testament to their enduring partnership. Like that marriage, her achievements will stand the test of time and continue to be celebrated by those who knew her best.”

“President Carter and his family are in our prayers as the world reflects on First Lady Carter’s storied life and the nation mourns her passing.”

From CNN via the Albany Herald:

The Carters redefined and revolutionized the post-presidency and, through their joint efforts, they worked on world peace and human rights on behalf of the Carter Center, a nongovernmental Atlanta-based organization founded to “wage peace, fight disease and build hope.”

“The Carter Center is a shared legacy. She’s been there digging latrines right next to him,” said the Carters’ friend Jill Stuckey, a leader at Maranatha Baptist Church, where both Carters attended and where Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school.

Rosalynn Carter’s most lasting individual legacy will be her efforts to diminish the stigma attached to people with mental illnesses and her fight for parity and access for mental health treatment. She also devoted her time to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving at her alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University, to help families and professional caregivers living with disabilities and illnesses.

As a young girl, she had admired then-first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, an influential global leader who took on issues such as civil rights and poverty. Once in the White House, Rosalynn helped to transform the office of first lady and became the first to hire a chief of staff whose government salary and rank were equal to the president’s chief of staff.

She was the first first lady to work out of the East Wing. Before her, first ladies worked from an office on the second or third floors of the White House in the family’s private residence. And under her watch, full-time positions in the East Wing grew by almost 20%. But her ambitious approach to the role drew criticism, particularly her controversial decision to sit in on her husband’s Cabinet meetings.

Rosalynn Carter’s signature issue was mental health. When she was campaigning for her husband during his 1970 race for governor, she was overwhelmed by the number of people who asked her what she would do for a relative dealing with mental illness.

“One day, when Jimmy was speaking at a rally, I got in line with everybody else to shake hands with him,” she recalled decades later in an interview with the Carter Center. “He saw who I was, grinned, and asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘I came to see what you are going to do about mental health when you are governor,’ I replied.”

She had a distant cousin with mental illness and she remembered running and hiding when she would hear him coming down the streets of their small town singing loudly. “He probably wanted nothing more than friendship and recognition, yet he was different, and when I heard him, my impulse was to flee,” the former first lady wrote in her memoir.

The experience left such a deep impression on her that she devoted much of her time in the White House to advocating for better care for people with mental illnesses. As Georgia’s first lady, she helped shift treatment to community mental health centers, and in the White House, she helped her husband create a Presidential Commission on Mental Health.

The day the commission was announced, Rosalynn Carter told the press that she had just gotten a note informing her that the Department of Justice prohibited the president from appointing a close relative, such as a wife, to a civilian position. Up until then, she had been planning to chair the committee.

Legalizing sports betting is likely to be on the agenda for Georgia state legislators, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

“Sports betting is something that should be an easy lift,” said Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who introduced a sports betting bill back in 2020 when he was a member of the state Senate. “It’s probably the most popular of the three arenas of gambling we’ve talked about.”

Sports betting appeared to get the jump on casinos and horse racing during this year’s legislative session when former Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton wrote in a legal opinion that sports betting could become law in Georgia without changing the state’s constitution.

Melton deemed sports betting essentially a lottery game, meaning it could be overseen by the Georgia Lottery Corp., which voters already incorporated into the constitution in a 1992 statewide referendum.

Not everyone agreed. Some lawmakers favored going with a constitutional amendment to give Georgia voters a chance to weigh in on whether they want sports betting. An alternative Senate measure was introduced to put sports betting in the constitution.

But in the end, the Senate defeated both measures, forcing supporters to wait until 2024.

Jones, who presides over the Senate, said he expects his legislative chamber to take the lead on sports betting again when the General Assembly convenes in January.

State Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, a longtime proponent of legalized gambling, said the tax benefits of sports betting are a good reason for lawmakers to go with the constitutional amendment approach.

But Stephens said emphasizing where the tax money would go if sports passing comes to Georgia could be enough of a winning argument in an election year to secure those two-thirds majorities.

“If we can get this to the floor, it’s going to put people in a position of voting for or against HOPE and Pre-K,” he said.

Young Farmers from South Georgia met with Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper and local legislators, according to the Albany Herald.

Organized by their respective chapters, Young Farmers members from six counties came together recently with several local and state elected officials at Turner County Elementary School to discuss current and future agricultural concerns for the state.

Participating were officials from Turner, Wilcox, Crisp, Tift, Ben Hill and Dooly counties. In addition to 100 Young Farmer members, state Reps. Clay Pirkle, Leesa Hagan and Bill Yearta; Sen. Carden Summers, and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tyler Harper were present.

According to Harper, these kinds of meetings are vital because they help the community, and especially farmers, get to know their government officials. With only a few members of the general assembly in the farming industry, it falls on farmers and producers to make sure legislators understand the needs of farming-dependent communities.

Pirkle, who opened up his introduction by joking about having the shortest commute to the meeting, discussed the potential bill coming up this legislative session on protecting American farmland from being purchased by adversarial countries (i.e. China).

“They do not have our best interest at heart,” Pirkle said. “They should not have access to the national and natural resources of our land.”

“Young Farmer chapters representing six counties worked together to make this joint agriculture legislative meeting happen,” [Turner County Young Farmer Chapter Advisor Dennis] Kendrick said. “It makes it easier on our legislators to join us when we host events together in one location. I appreciate Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Harper and all the other legislators for making the time to join us in conversation over current and future ag issues.

Georgia Election Boards will receive Narcan doses from the state, according to WRDW.

Election officials in Georgia and elsewhere are stocking up on the overdose reversal medication naloxone after a series of suspicious mailings — some containing traces of fentanyl — were sent to vote centers or government buildings in six states.

Even if there’s little risk from incidental contact with the synthetic opioid, having the antidote on hand isn’t a bad idea amid an addiction epidemic that is killing more than 100,000 people in the U.S. every year — and it can provide some assurance for stressed ballot workers, election managers say.

The office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said it will provide naloxone to any of the state’s 159 counties after a letter intercepted on its way to elections officials in Atlanta’s Fulton County tested positive for opioids.

Condemning the letters, Raffensperger noted one of his sons died of a fentanyl overdose about five years ago: “We know how deadly this stuff is.”

Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Keith Higgins announced new hires in the circuit, which serves Appling, Camden, Glynn, Jeff Davis, and Wayne counties, according to The Brunswick News.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce hosts their annual “Eggs & Issues” breakfast next month, according to AccessWDUN.

“This event continues to assist local businesses and citizens in communicating their concerns and discussing issues with our legislative delegation,” Kit Dunlap, president and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber said.  “The Chamber is proud to continue this tradition of bringing our legislators together with the business community.”

The breakfast will feature the 9-member Hall County Legislative Delegation for the Georgia House of Representatives and State Senate.

The Hall County Georgia Legislative Delegation includes:

Shelly Echols, State Senator, District 49

Bo Hatchett, State Senator, District 50

Lee Hawkins, State Representative, District 27

Brent Cox, State Representative, District 28

Matt Dubnik, State Representative, District 29

Derrick McCollum, State Representative, District 30

Emory Dunahoo, Jr., State Representative, District 31

David Clark, State Representative, District 100

Soo Hong, State Representative, District 103

Eggs & Issues 2024 is open to the public but reservations are required.

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