Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file
Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson called last week’s local elections—in which progressives backed by Athens for Everyone swept the mayor’s race and all six commission races—a “U-turn” in an interview with WGAU 1340 AM this morning.
Host Tim Bryant suggested that the results were “a left turn.” Denson responded, “It wasn’t just a left turn; it was a U-turn.”
Both Bryant and Denson chalked the results up to enthusiasm on the progressive side, while, as Athens GOP chairman Gordon Rhoden said in a recent mass email, conservatives stayed home.
“When you have that kind of passion from small, very vocal groups, and they organize, we saw what they did… I have to give them credit, they did an amazing job of taking over this election,” Denson said.
The state legislature’s decision to move nonpartisan elections like Athens’ from November to May also played a role, Denson said.
Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
With nearly twice as many votes as his nearest competitor, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz was elected the next mayor on Tuesday.
Girtz had received 60.5 percent of 15,720 votes cast with 20 of 24 precincts reporting and the other four partially reporting. Former commissioner Harry Sims recieved 30.6 percent, and businessman Richie Knight 8.9 percent.
Girtz called the results a continuation of the progressive wave in 2017 that swept two Democratic state representives into office in GOP districts. But Girtz also said he reached out to every part of the county during his year-long campaign and would continue to do so.
Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
Ten of 24 precincts are now reporting, and Kelly Girtz remains in good shape in the mayor's race. He has 58 percent of 4,583 votes cast to Harry Sims' 32 percent and Richie Knight's 10 percent.
The first results in District 1 are in, and Patrict Davenport leads incumbent Sharyn Dickerson 164 votes to 134. But they're from Winterville, which is probably a little more progressive than other parts of the eastern Clarke County district.
In District 9, Ovita Thornton has opened up a 155-vote lead over Tommy Valentine.
More votes in District 2 are in, and Mariah Parker's lead over Taylor Pass has shrunk percentagewise but grown in raw number of votes, from 21 to 45.
You could watch the election results like I do—alone, with a laptop and a fifth of bourbon—or you could be social and go out and watch them with a group of people you can celebrate and/or cry with. If you choose the latter, here are your options:
Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson/file
Athens mayoral candidate Richie Knight may have violated Georgia campaign finance laws by using company resources for campaign purposes.
Interviews with a number of Knight’s former employees at HW Creative Marketing—the Athens firm Knight co-owns— and former campaign staffers suggest that Knight exceeded campaign contribution limits related to his campaign’s use of his business’s office space and payments made by his company to campaign workers. (Editor’s note: The author is dating a former Knight campaign volunteer, but she was not a source for this article.)
Marc Hershovitz, an Atlanta attorney who specializes in political law, confirmed the appearance of a pattern of apparent violations. Hershovitz’s clients in the past have included Democrats and Republicans, including former Gov. Roy Barnes, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, state Sen. David Shafer and former congressman Ben Jones.
Derrick Maxwell is returning to Cedar Shoals High School. Maxwell—the former Whit Davis Elementary principal who led Cedar Shoals through the unpleasant spring of 2016 after Tony Price was suspended—was named Cedar Shoals’ principal once again. Maxwell had applied for the permanent job two years but was passed over in favor of DeAnne Varitek, who is moving on, and became a middle-school principal in Commerce instead.
Maxwell was among five of Means’ personnel recommendations the school board approved Thursday night. Chase Street Elementary assistant principal Andrea Neher will move up to replace Adam Kurtz. Stacie Carson and Beverly Harper had the interim tag removed at Stroud and JJ Harris, respectively. Harper replaces Xernona Thomas, whom Means promoted to chief of staff earlier this year. And Swade Huff, a former Clarke County educator who most recently served as principal of a Newton County middle school, is the new principal at Clarke Central. The principal position at Whit Davis remains unfilled.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via Vimeo
Best known as R.E.M.'s lawyer, Athens resident Bertis Downs has been an advocate for—and become something of an expert on—public education for many years.
With new superintendent Demond Means shaking things up (see Karen Sweeney Gerow and Tommie Farmer's recent op-eds for two differing perspectives on Means' reforms) Downs had some thoughts he wanted to share. But he had difficulty putting them on paper, so instead he made this video and sent it to Flagpole.
In it, Downs advocates for continuing the decentralized approach that the Clarke County School District agreed to pursue when it became a charter system.
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