Political Notes: November 2012
Floor Leader: Rep. Christian Coom-er (R-Cartersville) has been named a House floor leader by Gov. Nathan Deal. He joins Rep. Amy Carter (R-Val-dosta) and Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dub-lin), who are also Deal floor leaders.
Coomer is an attorney whose 14th house district includes portions of Bartow and Floyd counties. He was elected in 2010.
Oops: Fulton County Elections Director Sam Westmoreland resigned his position following his arrest for probation violations related to a 2009 DUI incident. The county elections office came under fire for problems during the July primaries that included missing the deadline to certify election results. Registration Chief Sharon Mitch-ell has been named interim director.
Archives and Accessibility: A statement from Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office in early September announced that the Georgia State Archives in Morrow would close to the public – aside from limited appointments – effective Nov. 1, a consequence of budget cuts. This would likely make Georgia the only state in the nation that does not provide full-time, centrally located public access to state historical records.
Bad news, and, as it turned out, worse timing. Members of the Society of Georgia Archivists were scheduled to meet with Gov. Nathan Deal just days later so that he could proclaim October Georgia Archives Month.
“Archives Month,” according to the society, “highlights the importance of archives to the citizens of the state by promoting public events at archives around Georgia.”
Petitions were circulated, emails were sent, and the public – archivists and non-archivists – let officials know they didn’t like the idea of the archives closing.
The proclamation ceremony quickly turned into a rally and protest. But the governor was ready. He announc-ed he would find money to keep the archives accessible. Subsequently, $125,000 was restored to Kemp’s budget to keep the doors open until June 30.
The surprise? On July 1, the Georgia Archives will be transferred to the University System of Georgia.
Back in the Fray: Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson, the Paulding County Republican who resigned his post and his house seat three years ago amid a scandal involving, among other things, an alleged inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist, is trying for a comeback. He has qualified to run for the District 30 Senate seat that includes parts of Carroll, Douglas and Paulding. Among those opposing him is Rep. Bill Hembree (R-Winston).
They will run in the special Repub-lican primary on Nov. 6, the day of the general election, to fill the candidate’s spot vacated by Bill Hamrick, who was appointed a Superior Court Judge for the Coweta Judicial District by Gov. Nathan Deal.
If needed, the runoff will be held December 4; the special election date is January 8, 2013, with a runoff date of February 5.
Sad Statistics: Georgia claims the fifth highest poverty rate in the country, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Commun-ity Survey, highlighted in a news release from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. Nearly one of every five Georgians is living in poverty; one in four children in the state lives in poverty.
Three counties with especially high poverty rates are Clarke (39.6 percent), Bulloch (32.7 percent) and Dougherty (29.1 percent).
In nine counties, one of every three children lives in poverty: Bartow, Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Clayton, Dougherty, Lowndes, Richmond and Troup.
The institute’s Senior Policy Analyst Clare S. Richie says state lawmakers have to do more. “With so many Geor-gians struggling amid the tough economy, the state needs to step up and help,” she says. “Lawmakers must do more to expand opportunity and help the poor lift themselves out of poverty.”
Reappointment: Gwinnett businessman Richard L. Tucker has been reappointed to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia by Gov. Nathan Deal. He is a past president/CEO and chairman of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.
Award Winner: Ninth District Congressman Tom Graves (R-Gaines-ville) was presented with one of the first “FreedomFighter Awards” from FreedomWorks, a conservative organization that scores U.S. House members on votes the group “believes are important to preserving freedom in our country.” Graves was one of three House members who earned a perfect score of 100 percent.