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Political Notes: November 2015

A University By Yet Another Name: Augusta University is the new name for the institution formerly known as Georgia Regents University – and before that Georgia Health Sciences University and the Medical College of Georgia.

It was the merger of that school with Augusta State University (formerly Augusta College) in 2013 that produced the Georgia Regents name, which made a lot of people in Augusta very unhappy. They let it be known that they wanted their city’s name included.

In announcing the new name, Board of Regents Chair Neil Pruitt said it “supports the long-term strategic direction of the institution and builds on our partnership with the Augusta community.”

University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby said the name builds on the momentum of new President Brooks Keel’s leadership. Keel has strong ties to Augusta and the school he leads; he has an undergraduate degree from Augusta College and a Ph.D. from the Medical College of Georgia.


Another Month, Another Special Election: Voters in Georgia’s Senate District 43, which includes portions of south DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties, will go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 3, to elect a successor to former Sen. Ronald Ramsay, a Democrat who was appointed last summer by Gov. Nathan Deal to a DeKalb State Court Traffic Division judgeship.

The election is nonpartisan, although candidates’ party affiliations will be listed on the ballot. If no one wins a majority of the votes, the runoff is set for Dec. 1.

The slate of candidates: Republicans Diana Adoma (who ran for office as a Democrat in 2014), William “Bill” Kennedy and Janice Frey Van Ness; Democrats Tonya P. Anderson, Marcus Jordan, Sharon Griffin Sawyer, Rodney Upton, Sherri L. Washington and Stan Williams; and Angela Moore, who is running without a party affiliation.


And Another One: The resignation of State Rep. Tonya P. Anderson (D-Lithonia) to run for the Georgia Senate means another nonpartisan special election to fill the vacancy in House District 92, which includes portions of DeKalb and Rockdale counties. This one is also scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 3, with a Dec. 1 runoff. Candidates are Doreen Carter, president of the Greater Lithonia Chamber of Commerce, and Conyers attorney Sherri Washington.


And One More: In Columbia County, four Republican candidates are running in yet another Nov. 3 nonpartisan special election for the State House District 122 seat vacated by Republican Rep. Ben Harbin, who resigned to become a lobbyist.

The candidates are Pat Goodwin, Jodi Lott, Joe Mullins and Mack Taylor.  Runoff date, if needed, is Dec. 1.


Looking Ahead: Houston County’s Michelle Miller has announced that she intends to run for the post of District 2 Commissioner on the Georgia Public Service Commission in the Republican primary in 2016. A press release says she has a degree in energy and sustainability policy from Penn State University and has research and consulting experience.


Looking Way Ahead: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told Atlanta Magazine that he will not be a candidate for public office in 2018 once his second term is over, but he didn’t rule out a return to public life sometime in the future.


Too Many Lawsuits? The Georgia Chamber thinks so. In a press release citing results of a U.S. Chamber survey, the state organization says Georgia’s lawsuit climate ranks 31st out of the 50 states.

“Georgia’s economy is thriving,” says chamber President and CEO Chris Clark, “however, business communities will not continue to grow without addressing flaws in the lawsuit climate.”

The Georgia Chamber’s Center for Competitiveness urges the governor and General Assembly to consider legislative reform in the areas of E-discovery, by simplifying the process; medical malpractice; phantom damages, by limiting damages paid “for nonexistent medical expenses” in personal injury cases; and business judgment rule, by “codifying a fair standard of gross negligence for directors and officers in their duties to banks and businesses.”


New Dalton State President: Margaret Venable, who served as interim president at Dalton State College, has been named president of the school by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.

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