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Political Notes

Honors For The Carters: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter have been named joint recipients of the 2017 Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage, given annually by Georgia Tech.

The award, named for the former Atlanta mayor, recognizes the Carters’ work to improve human rights and alleviate suffering throughout the world.

“Our work to advance peace and health for the world’s least fortunate people through the Carter Center has been the pinnacle of our lives,” President Carter said in a statement. “We are grateful if our experiences offer some inspiration to others to reach out to do what they can to help make life better for their neighbors next door or those in other nations.”

In January the Carter Center announced that its program to eradicate Guinea worm disease, which started in 1986 when there were some 3.5 million individuals afflicted, has successfully reduced the number of cases to only 25 in three countries – Chad, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

In announcing the award, Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson said, “Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter exemplify the far-reaching global changes that are possible through a lifetime partnership in social courage.”

Previous prizewinners include Georgia’s former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, 5th District U.S. Congressman John Lewis, former CDC head Dr. William Foege, humanitarian activist Nancy Parrish and human rights defender Beatrice Mtetwa.


Another Perdue In Washington: Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of agriculture, has family waiting for him in D.C. His cousin is Georgia’s junior U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, as well as the Armed Services, Banking and Budget committees. He was elected in 2014.

Sonny Perdue served as governor from 2003 to 2011 and is an agribusinessman who has a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said in a statement, “Agriculture is in Sonny Perdue’s DNA and now that he has the opportunity for it to be his full focus, we are confident that he will lead Trump’s team in making rural America great again.”


In Memoriam: Former Georgia Labor Commissioner and Secretary of State David Poythress died in January at age 73.

Poythress, a Democrat and two-time candidate for governor, also served as head of the Georgia Army and Air National Guard and was the state’s first commissioner of the Department of Medical Assistance.

Two Chairmanships For Isakson: Georgia’s senior U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was named chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and retains his role as chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He also serves on committees on Finance, Foreign Relations and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. Isakson was first elected to the Senate in 2004.


New Advocate: Attorney Tom C. Rawlings, Sandersville, has been named Georgia’s Child Advocate by Gov. Nathan Deal. He is managing partner of McMillan & Rawlings and worked in the state Office of the Child Advocate from 2007 until 2010.

New Education Board Members: Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Mike Che-okas, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, and Lee Ann Cowart, owner of Lee Anne Cowart Interiors Inc., to the State Board of Education. Cheokas, from Americus, repre- sents the 2nd Congressional District; and Cowart, from Thomson, represents the 10th District.


Coastal Georgia Changes: Gregory F. Aloia will step down June 30 as president of the College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick. He has served since 2013, overseeing an 18 percent increase in enrollment.

Dr. Margaret A. Amstutz will serve as interim president of the college, effective July 1. She is currently associate provost for academic programs at the University of Georgia.


Not Running For Re-election: Early in this year’s legislative session, State Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) announced that he will not seek a fifth Senate term in 2018. In a prepared statement printed in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, McKoon said he wanted to be sure potential candidates have time to make their decisions and mount their campaigns.

McKoon, a prime supporter of “religious liberty” legislation, has been at odds with Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speak-er David Ralston; late last year he was stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Taking on tough issues such as ethics reform, immigration reform and religious liberty has made my time here worthwhile, “ he said, “but it has come at a cost.”

He did not appear to rule out a run for statewide office in 2018.

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