Political Notes: January 2014

Upheld: The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the statute used by Gov. Nathan Deal to remove six members of the DeKalb County Board of Education last year is constitutional, as is the subsequent appointment of six new members. The challenge to the law was made by ousted Board Chair Dr. Eugene Walker.

New MAC Leaders: Atlanta Businesswoman Hala Moddelmog takes over as president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) on Jan. 6. She succeeds long-time President Sam Williams, who retired in December. She is the first female to lead the chamber.

Moddelmog, a Georgia native, served as Arby’s Restaurant Group president from 2010 until 2013 and is a former president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and former president of Church’s Chicken.

“Atlanta is uniquely positioned for success with its diverse economy, global access, abundant talent and low costs of business and lifestyle,” she said in a MAC press release. “I am looking forward to joining my colleagues on the MAC team, our board members and volunteers, as we build on a strong foundation of excellence and success.”

Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines, is the 2014 MAC board chair, succeeding Paul Bowers, president and CEO of Georgia Power. Cousins Properties President and CEO Lawrence L. Gellerstedt III is the 2015 chair-elect, and E. Jenner Wood III, SunTrust’s Atlanta and Georgia Division President & CEO, is the 2016 chair-elect.

Cupid Votes No: Cobb County’s District 4 Commissioner Lisa Cupid was the lone “No” when the Cobb Commission voted 4-1 to approve a Memorandum of Understanding with the Atlanta Braves that should see the team playing in a new $672-million stadium in 2017. The relatively short time between the announcement and the scheduled commission vote had some in the community asking for more time to review terms of the agreement, which calls for about $300 million in public funds.

Cupid, who says she supports the Braves move, said at the meeting that she felt she was being “bullied” into voting for the new stadium and favored a delay. “If you wanted a 5-0 vote, you could have gotten it,” she said, but made it clear she was not happy with the pressure for a fast vote.

In an interview with WSB-TV, she said the pressure came from members of the community, not from the Braves organization or fellow commissioners.

Galambos Honored: Retiring Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos, who led the 30-year effort to incorporate the city, was recognized for her service at ceremonies sponsored by the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, Sandy Springs Hospitality & Tourism and Perimeter Community Improvement Districts. More than 150 civic and business leaders attended.

Galambos was given a lifetime achievement award by the chamber in recognition of her role as “leader, innovator and humanitarian,” says the cham-ber’s President & CEO Tom Mahaffey. She is the first recipient of the award, which will be named for her.

Rusty Paul succeeds Galambos as mayor of Sandy Springs.

Deal Appointments: Former State Rep. Jay Neal is the new executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry, succeeding Braxton Cotton, who left to serve as a member of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Robert Keller, a former Clayton County district attorney and member of the state parole board, becomes a deputy director of the governor’s transition office, joining Renee Snead.

Special House Elections: Three candidates are on the ballot for the Jan. 7 special election to fill the seat of the late District 22 State Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Hickory Flat), who died in October. The election is non-partisan, although all the candidates are Republicans: Meagan Biello, Canton; Nate Cochran, Canton; Jeff Duncan, Ball Ground; and Sam Moore, Ball Ground.

Four candidates, all Republicans, have qualified in the race for the District 2 seat vacated by Rep. Jay Neal, who resigned to become head of the governor’s transition office. They are Neal Florence, LaFayette; Steve Tarvin, Chickamauga; and Doug Woodruff, Ringgold.

The runoff is scheduled for Feb. 4, if needed.

Categories: Political Notes