Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 26, 2023

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 26, 2023

On September 26, 1928, future President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in Atlanta on behalf of Democrat Alfred Smith’s campaign for President.

The first televised debate between major party candidates for President took place on September 26, 1960 between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon.

Kennedy emerged the apparent winner from this first of four televised debates, partly owing to his greater ease before the camera than Nixon, who, unlike Kennedy, seemed nervous and declined to wear makeup. Nixon fared better in the second and third debates, and on October 21 the candidates met to discuss foreign affairs in their fourth and final debate. Less than three weeks later, on November 8, Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote in one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, surpassing by a fraction the 49.6 percent received by his Republican opponent.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Nine Georgia state legislators wrote Governor Kemp asking for help, according to The Brunswick News.

In the letter to Gov. Brian Kemp, seven House members and two senators describe how the flood of foreign shrimp at prices lower than the domestic industry is able to offer is breaking the local fleet.

“To be clear, our shrimping industry faces an unprecedented crisis that threatens the existence of domestic shrimping,” they wrote. “Accordingly, we are asking that you call on President Biden and the Department of Commerce to immediately address the unfair and illegal trade practices and shrimp dumping that is destroying our domestic industry.”

Members of the Glynn, Camden and McIntosh state delegations were among the signers of the Sept. 17 letter. In addition to Sen. Mike Hodges, R-St. Simons Island, they included Reps. Buddy DeLoach, R-Townsend, Rick Townsend, R-St. Simons Island and Stephen Sainz, R-St. Marys.

“Moreover, we are asking for your advocacy for any and all possibilities to provide relief for our commercial shrimp fishermen and to promote Georgia wild caught shrimp more aggressively to support our industry,” the delegates wrote.

“Our hope was that an economic man-made disaster could be declared by NOAA through recent federal legislation if you declared a Fisheries Disaster. This, we hoped, would provide some immediate aid to commercial fishermen.”

“Currently, in spite of an abundant supply of shrimp, there is not going to be a 2023 domestic crop due to oversaturation of the market,” the delegation wrote. “U.S. inventories of shrimp are overwhelmed due to the dumping of imports driving prices down to record lows and now to eliminating the domestic market altogether.”

“Virtually all of our U.S. shrimp supply is now imported from India, Ecuador, China, and Vietnam,” legislators wrote. “These are pond-raised shrimp which are government subsidized and do not adhere to our domestic health standards.”

“In summary, the challenges facing our domestic shrimpers are federal. They have not been created by Georgia practices or policies. However, our hope is that your advocacy for this industry to our federal government and insistence on fair trade law enforcement will put pressure on the Biden Administration to help our shrimpers survive today and, hopefully, seek fairer trade practices and better safety inspections tomorrow.”

Other state legislators who signed the letter include Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, and Reps. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, Bill Hitchens, R-Rincon, Al Williams, D-Midway, and Ron Stephens, R-Savannah.

John Wallace, who co-owns Anchored Shrimp Co. in Brunswick with his father, Aaron, as well as the shrimping vessel Gale Force, told The News earlier this month that the Southern Shrimp Alliance requested in a letter Aug. 25 that the governors of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas seek a fisheries disaster determination by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce for the shrimp fishery. Wallace is a member of the alliance’s board of directors.

A lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in redistricting is before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the Georgia Recorder.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit will determine whether to continue blocking provisions of Georgia’s 2021 election law overhaul that civil rights groups say discriminates against Black and disabled voters.

The Georgia Republican Party and national GOP political committees are backing state officials in their request that the appellate court overturn the Aug. 18 decision of District Judge J.P. Boulee, who granted preliminary injunctions on voting rules connected to the controversial Republican-backed Senate Bill 202 that passed in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.

The attorney general’s office filed an appeal with the Atlanta-based circuit court on Sept 18.

Boulee’s temporary order makes it legal, for now, for food and water to be given out to voters as long as they are not within 150 feet of a polling place. Additionally, it rejects SB 202’s requirement that an absentee ballot with an incorrect birth date on the outer envelope is automatically rejected by the county clerk.

Boulee, however, declined the plaintiffs’ request to suspend provisions limiting absentee drop boxes access and who can assist voters with returning mail-in ballots.

The Secretary of State’s Office continues trading messages with legislators, according to the AJC.

Georgia election officials are telling Republican state legislators that their proposed security enhancements might be possible — at a cost of $32.5 million and probably not before the 2024 election.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s chief attorney recently outlined the feasibility of items such as eliminating ballot bar codes, adding ballot verification technology and installing voting machine upgrades, according to letters obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through the Georgia Open Records Act.

The response to legislators comes after they and Lt. Gov. Burt Jones demanded security improvements in response to a report by a computer science professor who found “critical vulnerabilities” that, if successfully exploited, could flip votes from one candidate to another. The state Senate Ethics Committee plans to hold election security hearings this fall.

State senators want more information about why Raffensperger decided not to upgrade to a newer version of the software of Dominion Voting Systems, which could help mitigate some vulnerabilities. Raffensperger said it’s impractical to test and install the upgrade on tens of thousands of pieces of voting equipment before the 2024 election.

Several issues remain before a statewide rollout of the update to Dominion Voting Systems equipment, McGowan wrote. The update is still being tested, it’s not yet compatible with voter check-in tablets, and the General Assembly hasn’t allocated money for a large-scale statewide installation.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) will debate California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) in Atlanta on November 30, 2023, according to the AJC.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is running for president next year. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to compete for the nation’s top political office in 2028. So why are they planning to debate each other this November in Georgia?

Fox News announced Monday it would host a Nov. 30 debate between DeSantis and Newsom, setting the stage for an unusual showdown of prominent governors who aren’t yet election rivals.

The precise location and format of the DeSantis-Newsom showdown hasn’t been announced. The debate will be the second political event hosted by Hannity in Georgia in the last year. The one-time Roswell resident who rose to broadcasting prominence at WGST in Atlanta held a Herschel Walker town hall in Acworth on his show last year during Walker’s failed U.S. Senate bid.

A Better Rome Inc. is backing candidate for Rome City Council, according to the Rome News Tribune.

That committee, A Better Rome Inc., is part of a promised full-contact campaign season over six commission seats on the Nov. 7 ballot. There are three seats each in Ward 1 and Ward 2 and all are contested.

A Better Rome Inc. identifies itself as a nonprofit and is soliciting donations. Some of the key players have firm ties to 14th District U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who blasted Democrats serving on the City Commission at a GOP rally earlier this month.

A Better Rome is identified by the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission as a “noncandidate committee/independent committee” formed on July 3 of this year.

RTA Strategy, the umbrella company behind A Better Rome, identifies itself as follows: “RTA Strategy believes big political victories can only be won through brazen determination, meticulous attention to detail and the kind of no-holds-barred approach to leadership that gets you to the finish line.”

Rabies case numbers are up statewide, according to WRDW.

The latest incident happened in Columbia County on Sept. 20, when a dog fought with a raccoon on Yelton Farm Road in Appling. The raccoon tested positive for rabies.

Just a few days earlier, a rabid raccoon was found in McDuffie County.

While they don’t have the highest number of cases – that distinction goes to Gwinnett County with nine – they’re definitely among the highest.

In fact, Columbia County ties Banks County for No. 2 with seven cases this year, and McDuffie is in a multi-way tie for No. 4 with five cases.

Dougherty County Commissioners want to improve access to mental health services, according to WALB.

Dougherty County Commissioners tell WALB that in order to progress, the stigma surrounding mental health needs to be addressed. And in order to do that, there needs to be an even greater discussion surrounding the role it plays in Dougherty County.

“What ends up happening most of the time is our hospitals are already overrun,” Dougherty County District 3 Commissioner Clinton Johnson, said. “The jails end up being the first place that most people who are experiencing mental health issues are going. And our officers, while they’re very well equipped, they have other things that they could be focusing on.”

Johnson is also the second vice president of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia or ACCG. The group is pushing Governor Brian Kemp for more, and better resources because of the burdens it puts on hospitals and jails.

“Absolutely,” Chief Jailer of the Dougherty County Jail John Ostrander said. “Jails across the country are the largest mental health treatment facilities in their counties usually. There is a great overrepresentation of mentally ill in the jail as compared to the community at large. And treatment resources in the jail are usually lacking.”

Ostrander adds that there are crisis centers open right now, like the one on 11th Avenue and at Phoebe in Albany. But he says there needs to be more capacity in these spaces for the county to thrive.

Baldwin County Public Schools created sensory rooms in five elementary schools, according to 13WMAZ.

Baldwin School’s Disability Service Coordinator Jamy Meeks says schools have a lot going on, and that could trigger a child with sensory processing disorders.

“Sometimes the classroom is a hard place to be,” Meeks said. “Things as simple as the lighting in the classroom, the noise level, even sitting in a hard chair.”

Meeks says studies at both the University of South Carolina and Utah say 5-15% of kids have sensory processing deficits.

“I definitely think it’s gotten higher because of COVID because that was a trauma-induced situation, so we’re gonna see a little bit of a greater need,” she said.

“A lot of times what we see is that it looks like inattentiveness in the classroom. So, that’s one of the issues. There’s also kids that are sensory seeking because they don’t have the stimuli that they need. So, then that looks like oppositional defiance or negative behaviors in the classroom,” Meek said.

So to help, the school built sensory rooms.

“A sensory room is where children can come in a safe environment and can get some visual stimuli, tactile stimuli, auditory stimuli,” Meeks said.

Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen resigned citing health issues, according to WTOC.

City Manager Shawn Gillen has been on a medical leave since June.

Michelle Owens has been acting as interim city manager. She was an assistant city manager before Gillen went on extended leave during the summer.

Tybee’s mayor sent WTOC a statement on his resignation sent to her and city council members. Mayor Shirley Session says in summary that Owens will stay in the interim city manager role until further notice. Sessions says while the city council decides its next steps, Tybee is in capable hands. She goes on to say, no matter what happens, they are grateful to Gillen for six years of leadership and wish him and his family the best.

From WSAV:

“Until the city council decides its next steps, our city is in very capable hands with the acting city manager and an amazing team of city employees,” said Mayor Shirley Sessions in a post on Facebook. “No matter what happens, we are grateful to Shawn for six years of leadership and wish only the best for him and his family.”

Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen rang the bell after finishing treatment for cancer, according to WRDW.

“I had to do six treatments of chemo, 21 days apart. The only days I really missed were the days I was on chemo because it was so long. The rest of the time I was here. I’d go to radiation for 10 minutes a day and I would be right back in the office. I didn’t want to be away from my job. It kept me busy. This what we do for the community,” said Bowen.

He said the community didn’t give up on him.

“People were texting me all the time with prayer, you know, just prayed for you. It was amazing,” said Bowen.

As he set his sights on the gold bell, Bowen said: “I rang the bell and walked out and was so glad it’s all over with now. Praise God. It’s a new world.”

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