Republican state Sens. Bill Cowsert and Frank Ginn, along with Republican state Reps. Marcus Wiedower and Houston Gaines, supported by the Republican majorities in both houses of the Georgia General Assembly, against the protests of the great majority on the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission, and egged on by local Republicans like Charlie Upchurch Jr. and Steve Middlebrooks, redistricted our local government to remove three progressive commissioners and replace them with two of unproven political leanings and one confirmed hard-right commissioner who will certainly work to undo progressive initiatives.
That happened. It’s a done deal, and it happened because “our” legislative districts have been so thoroughly gerrymandered by the Republicans over the years that Cowsert, Ginn, Wiedower and Gaines can rely on comfortable voter majorities in the surrounding rural counties and never need to give a damn about what Athens voters want. The best we can do is to vote for their opponents, who are worthy of election in their own right, but also deserve an extra push from Athens voters who don’t like being slapped down by bullies.
But let’s be realistic: We’ve heard a lot about rigged elections. Well, this is certainly a rigged election. It is carefully set up so that anybody who runs against Cowsert, Ginn, Wiedower and Gaines will lose. That’s why those four are still in office, and that’s why they will no doubt stay in office. Add to that list now Rep. Trey Rhodes, way over in Union Point, who in a further dilution of Athens votes now “represents” us, too. Yep, they found a way to add more rural areas to our voter base, which is a sham and a disgrace. One of the most liberal counties in the state will be represented by five super-conservative Republican legislators. But you already know that. The least you can do is vote against this crowd who always vote against you. Let’s show in their vote totals how much we oppose their rape of our local government and their general disdain for the majority of Athens-Clarke County voters. And remember, these guys only show up on your ballot if you’re in their district.
Andrew Ferguson (georgiacantwait.com) is running against Cowsert in Senate District 46. You can only read half his web site (the left half), because his pop-up donations ad won’t go away, but he appears to be a John Ossoff-type candidate who works as an editor for “the largest investigations company in the country” and ran for Congress in 2020, losing badly in the Democratic primary to the mysterious Tabitha Johnson-Green. He has a masters degree from UGA in public administration with a specialization in local government, and is active in our local Democratic Party.
Conolus Scott (votescott2022.com) is running against Ginn in Senate District 47. Scott is the real thing. He grew up picking cotton in Madison County and went on to a career in management at Westinghouse. He is chairman of the Madison County Planning and Zoning Board, a bailiff at the courthouse, a grandfather and a church leader married to his wife of 55 years. Ginn is the most vulnerable of the Republican gang. District 47 has a sizable chunk of Athens voters in it; if you’re one of them, cast your vote for Scott. You can register your protest against Ginn, and you just might be instrumental in electing the much more compatible Scott.
Jeff Auerbach (jeff4georgia.com) is running against Wiedower in House District 121. Auerbach has a PhD in political science from UGA, specializing in political economics and public health, and he teaches at nearby Emory-at-Oxford. He has some practical and down-to-earth proposals for painlessly alleviating pressing problems that place needless burdens on our most vulnerable citizens.
Mokah Jasmine Johnson (mokahforgeorgia.com) is running against Gaines in House District 120. This is a rematch. She ran against him in 2020 and got 43% of the vote, though his new District 120 has been tweaked to assure that Gaines doesn’t have to face that much of an annoyance again. Even so, Johnson is a forceful presence with wide experience in social justice and activism.
Kat Howkins (kathowkins4ga.org), from Winterville, is running against Trey Rhodes in the newly gerrymandered House District 124, which is mostly made up of Oglethorpe, Greene and Taliaferro counties. Howkins is a farmer, landscaper, animal advocate and grandmother who is right on all the issues that matter to Democrats in ACC and ought to matter throughout the 124th. Howkins would certainly be a breath of fresh air in the House.
OK: As for all those other races—where the Republicans’ names are always listed first—you’ve already made up your mind between the rev and the runner, Stacey and Brian, plus Charlie Bailey and the fake presidential elector. You’d like to reward Raffensperger for standing up to Trump, but don’t forget what all he has done over the years and is still doing to suppress our votes.
And, look: As the used car salesmen always say, I’ll be honest with ya. I am going to vote for the Democrats in the rest of the elections on the ballot, not that many of them have a chance of unseating Republican incumbents unless Sen. Warnock and Abrams can create some powerful coattails.
Oh, and those amendments and referenda: The local referendum at the end of the ballot helps homeowners a little bit while hurting local government’s ability to supply the services we all need. I’m voting no. For the statewide questions, reason.org has a pretty even-handed guide.
Early voting has started. ACC votes count full strength in the statewide elections. We can make a difference. Vote!
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.