Photo Credit: Lee Becker
More than 100 people turned out on Thursday night for an election forum in Watkinville that featured a very respectful exchange between incumbent Mayor Dave Shearon and challenger Bob Smith.
Though Smith, a real estate agent and former state representative, has had open disagreements with the Watkinsville Council in recent months regarding development of his property, little of the tension was in evidence on Thursday night, until the very end.
Remember Paul Broun Jr., Athens' former congressman who regularly made late-night talk show fodder with proclamations like "evolution is a lie straight from the pit of Hell"?
Well, Broun is back. He's been laying low after a failed U.S. Senate run in 2014, but now he wants Gov. Brian Kemp to appoint him to the seat Sen. Johnny Isakson is leaving at the end of the year.
Andy Herod, who’s represented the Eastside on the ACC Commission since 2007, won’t run again in 2020, he announced in his monthly newsletter to constituents.
“Although I have enjoyed the work tremendously, there are some things I would like to pursue in my professional life that I have put on hold for several years,” the UGA geography professor wrote.
Andrea Farnham, a sex and relationship therapist, announced her candidacy for the District 8 seat in June, running on a social justice platform.
Longtime local activist Carol Myers, the retired dean of general education at Athens Tech, told Flagpole after Herod’s announcement that she also plans to enter the race. Myers has worked on several local campaigns, served on the SPLOST committee, is active in BikeAthens, helped write ACC’s bike and pedestrian master plan and now chairs a committee overseeing implementation of that plan.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson will resign effective Dec. 31, he announced today, citing health problems, giving Gov. Brian Kemp an opportunity to appoint his successor and putting another Georgia Senate seat up for grabs in 2020.
Isakson has suffered from Parkinson's Disease for several years. He broke four ribs in a fall in July, and revealed in a statement today that he also had a growth removed from his kidney this week.
“In my 40 years in elected office, I have always put my constituents and my state of Georgia first," he said. "With the mounting health challenges I am facing, I have concluded that I will not be able to do the job over the long term in the manner the citizens of Georgia deserve. It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term, but I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state."
Photo Credit: Lee Becker
Watkinsville alone among Oconee County’s four cities will hold an election this fall, with two candidates competing for the mayor of the city and two more competing for Post 2 on the city council.
Incumbent Watkinsville Mayor Dave Shearon and Bob Smith, a real estate agent and former state representative, filed paperwork last week qualifying for the mayoral contest.
Incumbent Watkinsville Post 1 council member Brian Brodrick also qualified, but he will have no opposition on the ballot in November.
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file
Local activist Mokah-Jasmine Johnson is considering running for an Athens state House of Representatives seat that Democrats surprisingly flipped in 2017 but lost again last year.
Johnson filed paperwork Tuesday to begin raising money to run in House District 117, currently held by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens). Last November, Gaines ousted Democrat Deborah Gonzalez in a rematch of a special election the previous year.
The district—which includes parts of Clarke, Oconee, Jackson and Barrow counties—had been in Republican hands for decades. It's now a swing district that's considered crucial if Democrats hope to win control of the House in 2020. The GOP currently has a 14-seat advantage but lost ground last year, mainly in the metro Atlanta suburbs.
Photo Credit: Sarah Bell
A Georgia Republican Party official told Oconee County Republicans that the GOP will continue to win elections because Democratic women "forgot to reproduce," and "Christian and conservative women" are having more children.
Brant Frost V, the party's second vice-chair, claimed at an Oconee GOP meeting last month that Republicans have a 35 percent "fertility advantage" over Democrats.
According to Lee Becker at Oconee County Observations:
Western Circuit District Attorney Ken Mauldin will not run for re-election in 2020, he announced Wednesday.
Mauldin, a Democrat, has served five terms as the DA for Clarke and Oconee counties. He released the following statement about his retirement:
Photo Credit: Robert Wyatt
Jimmy Williamson is running for Oconee County sheriff as a Republican, but he asked Democrats assembled at the party meeting last month to help him with his campaign.
“Anybody that wants to help me get my name out, and help people understand that I’m the most qualified candidate, I appreciate the help,” Williamson said.
Former state Rep. Deborah Gonzalez is running for Western Circuit district attorney, she announced Thursday.
“All of us want to keep our communities strong and protected, but we know that the old tough-on-crime way of administering justice has been too tough on our communities,” Gonzalez said in a video posted online. “It’s left us all less safe, less whole and with less opportunity. It’s time for a new approach to justice and crime. It’s time for new leadership.”
Gonzalez is a media and entertainment lawyer with no experience as a prosecutor, but in the House she served on the committee that handles bills related to criminal justice, and she also served on a criminal justice task force for the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.
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