Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 19, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 19, 2023

President George Washington gave his farewell address on September 19, 1796.

The period for a new election of a Citizen, to Administer the Executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be cloathed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the sametime, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful Citizen to his country–and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my Situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

On September 19, 1863, the Battle of Chickamauga was joined between the federal Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg.

Thirteen marchers were shot and killed and forty more wounded in Camilla, Georgia at the Camilla Massacre on September 19, 1868 as marchers to a Republican Party rally were gunned down.

President James Garfield died on September 19, 1881, of wounds sustained on July 2d of that year. Garfield is one of seven Presidents born in Ohio – he and William McKinley, were both killed by assassins.

Chickamauga National Battlefield was dedicated September 19, 1895.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Home prices may be dipping. The median listing price is down 4.7% in Richmond County, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The median home in Richmond County listed for $201,075 in August, down 4.7% from the previous month’s $211,000, an analysis of data from shows.

Compared to August 2022, the median home list price decreased 10.6% from $220,000.

Richmond County’s median home was 1,596 square feet, listed at $125 per square foot. The price per square foot of homes for sale is down 3.3% from August 2022.

Clarke County‘s median listing price is also down, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The median home in Clarke County listed for $398,675 in August, down 0.1% from the previous month’s $399,000, an analysis of data from shows.

Compared to August 2022, the median home list price increased 14.4% from $349,900.

Clarke County’s median home was 2,193 square feet, listed at $203 per square foot. The price per square foot of homes for sale is up 9.2% from August 2022.

But affordable housing remains an issue in the rental market, according to WRDW.

There is a growing need for affordable housing here at home.

Augusta Housing Authority recently reopened the waitlist for section eight housing.

In two days, they had 6,000 applicants, so they immediately closed the waitlist. The 3,000 people who made that list are still waiting for a place to call home.

The need for affordable housing in Augusta is rising faster than contractors can redo spaces like Ervin Towers, but people say these new renovations aren’t coming with an affordable price tag.

According to Zupmer’s National Rent Report, Augusta ranked as the 90th most expensive city to rent.

The price of one-bedroom units in Augusta averages $930, while two-bedroom units are averaging $1,020.

In the private rental market, Short Term Vacation Rentals may be a growing part of the mix. From WJBF:

City planners tell commissioners that there are about 700 short-term rental properties available in Augusta.

They said the pros for new regulations would be improve the quality of life for neighborhoods and generate tax revenue, but the recommendation from the Planning Department and law enforcement is that no new regulations are needed.

“That’s why we came back today, so we could hear from the Sheriff’s Office, the Marshal’s Office, and Planning and Development, and as you heard, there have not been a lot of calls,” said Commissioner Stacy Pulliam.

About a half dozen locations in Georgia have short-term rental regulations in place, and city planners say they will continue to monitor the situation, but some commissioners want more than that.

From WRDW:

Augusta Commission members held a workshop session Monday on defining the limits for short-term rentals.

Almost 700 properties are available for rent right now, less than 1% of residential units in Augusta.

The meeting was an attempt to create an ordinance that defines the limits of a short-term rental, as it’s a popular business around golf tournament and high school graduation seasons.

The main concern is noise complaints about guests at properties operating as a bed and breakfast when property owners are not in town to handle complaints. There are also issues of checking business licenses for property owners who are using their homes as a short-term rental.

From WSAV:

Since the most recent update to Tybee’s short-term rental (STR) ordinances, new STRs are restricted in residential areas.

However, data from the city shows almost half of the housing on the island is being used as STRs as of this year.

About one-third of the housing in residential areas is still short-term rentals.

They say many long-time neighbors and friends have been forced to leave because their rented homes were turned into STRs.

Yet, others tell me there are homeowners on the island who rent their houses to pay the bills.

Keith Gay, CEO of Tybee Beach Vacation Rentals, says the ordinance hurts them.

“There are people who live outside of the area who want to own a summer home and they come to stay and visit themselves, and then when they’re not here, they allow it to be used to generate revenue to support it. Once that ordinance passed, it took that option away from everybody else, and that’s unfortunate,” Gay said.

Residents in other areas of Chatham County say they are also looking into strengthening regulations on rentals in their communities.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state government opened a Disaster Recovery Center in Lowndes County, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Nikki Gaskins, the FEMA media relations specialist, said the Disaster Recovery Center officially opened at noon Sunday, Sept. 17, and served about 50 residents from the listed areas. The center will operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for seven days a week.

The center houses trained specialists from FEMA’s Individual Assistance program who can help survivors face to face through the recovery process, explaining the types of assistance available from FEMA, such as housing and other needs assistance.

“To date, we’ve approved more than $1 million for disaster survivors and that is with grant money that does not have to be repaid,” Gaskins said in an interview Monday.

Residents do not have to visit the center to apply for the FEMA Disaster Assistance, but representatives urge residents to meet with a specialist physically if they can. Residents can also apply online at, by calling 800-621-3362 or by using the FEMA mobile app. The first step in the recovery process should be to inquire with your insurance agency provider. The deadline to apply is Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.

“If you have insurance, that is going to be your first line of defense. FEMA is not a substitute or replacement for insurance. Anything that a survivor might receive from FEMA is usually going to be supplemental and not enough to make a person whole. Also by law, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments,” Gaskins explained.

The dumpster fire that is the Rome ethics ordinance and procedures continues to burn. From the Rome News Tribune:

A three-member tribunal of regional mayors, charged with reviewing complaints against Cochran, now has no active members. All three have resigned following the exit of the Rome-appointed special counsel in the case, Chris Balch, whose issues with the city were outlined in an inflammatory resignation letter.

Following the requirements of Rome’s ethics ordinance, three area mayors were chosen to further review the case: Bremen Mayor Sharon Sewell, Adairsville Mayor Kenneth Carson and Summerville Mayor Harry Harvey. The panel last met on May 2 before Cochran’s attorney filed a challenge in Floyd County Superior Court, citing several errors in the process that were potentially damaging to Cochran’s reputation.

In that initial court hearing on May 12, Superior Court Chief Judge John “Jack” Niedrach paused the ethics panel process pending a court review.

Through May, the ongoing ethics investigation had cost the city close to $50,000 — and that was before Balch’s final invoice for work in June and early July as well as whatever fees Jackson has incurred. Cochran is paying for his own representation and his compensation is expected to be part of the mediation discussion.

Georgia state legislators may consider legislation on referenda, according to the AJC.

The [Georgia Supreme] court’s unanimous ruling upheld the results of a referendum in Camden County that grounded plans for a spaceport in coastal Georgia. Activists in Atlanta used that campaign as a template in their efforts to force a referendum to block the city’s proposed public safety training center.

When justices issued the ruling in February, two members warned in a concurring opinion it could pave the way for a “frightful season” for local governments if lawmakers don’t intervene.

The justices envisioned efforts to overturn even mundane government acts, such as zoning decisions and taxation rates, “as a means of either protest or in an attempt to thwart the will of a fatigued majority in a low turnout election.”

We’ve picked up word that Georgia General Assembly members are drafting measures to more sharply define what local decisions can be reversed. Legal experts question whether the Georgia Supreme Court ruling applies to only decisions by county governments and not also to city officials.

Augusta City Commissioners will decide whether to rename the Riverwalk after former Mayor the late Ed McIntyre, according to WJBF.

Many have spoken out against renaming it the “Edward M. McIntyre Riverwalk” because of the scandal he was involved in while in office. McIntyre was arrested, tried and convicted in Federal Court for extortion.

Still, a committee voted 3 to 1 in favor of naming it for McIntyre.

Floyd County Republicans discussed voter turnout, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Executive Committee Chair Jamie Palmer said. If they can get voter turnout to increase by 2%, he said, that would represent a significant accomplishment.

“This is really the kickoff of a two-week-long training event,” Palmer said.

Three candidates vie for seats on Rincon City Council, according to the Savannah Morning News.

[Brandy] Riley, along with longtime resident Mona Underwood and current city council member Michelle Taylor, hope to bring fresh ideas to the panel. According to Underwood, some council members do not always see eye-to-eye with residents. The three agree now is the time to change the future of Rincon.

Rincon is the largest municipality in Effingham County and one that is growing rapidly.

According to the U.S. Census, the county’s population is estimated to be nearly 70,000, up 6% from 2020. That number is expected to rise and city planning will be paramount to responsible growth. The county’s school district, which boasts a 90% graduation rate according to Superintendent Yancy Ford, has seen an increase of 600 students per school year since 2020.

The group is campaigning behind transparency in city processes and simplifying those processes for small businesses.

Albany Board of Elections members will consider where to locate early voting in the 2023 elections, according to the Albany Herald.

A big question for Dougherty County voting officials is “Civic Center or Candy Room?” for early advance voting ahead of the Nov. 7 Albany municipal election, which also will have a countywide transportation sales tax initiative on the ballot.

After COVID-19 hit, early voting was held for several election cycles at the Albany Civic Center, allowing more space for social distancing. And after an issue with the state voting system caused many voters to wait outside for hours in warm weather in 2021, the venue was seen as a location where people could maintain social distancing, with the benefit of being indoors.

Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, early voting was held in the county-owned Riverfront Resource Center located on Pine Avenue. Some early voting has taken place at that location, referred to as the Candy Room, since COVID restrictions were lessened as well.

Georgia law calls for a three-week early voting period, including the second and third Saturday during that time period. Local elections officials also may provide Sunday voting on the first or third Sunday, or both, during that period, at their discretion.

For the Albany municipal elections, there will be one citywide contest for mayor and competitive races in Wards I and IV. All county voters can weigh in on the question of extending the transportation special-purpose local-option sales tax (T-SPLOST).

Walter Parker, former Mayor and City Council member in Tybee Island, died, according to WSAV.

Walter served as mayor for 16 years starting in 1986 and also served multiple terms on City Council. According to the City of Tybee Island, Parker loved Tybee and was supportive of everyone he worked with and served. The former mayor was described as a “true southern gentleman, with a subtle, sometimes fierce, sense of humor.”

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