Peach State Politics (Sep. 17, 2021)

Woolard named chair of Fulton election board, meteorologist criticizes city's pothole problems, ATL Mayor candidates to debate, This Week in Washington

Welcome back to Peach State Politics! This week, we’re going to take a closer look at the drama unfolding on the Fulton County Election Board. A prominent local meteorologist had stern words for city officials over the rise in potholes on city streets. And candidates for Atlanta Mayor are set to take part in their first formal debate next Tuesday! And as always, we’ve got the latest news from Washington. Let’s get started!

Fulton names Cathy Woolard as new election board chair

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday voted to appoint former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard as the new chair of the county election board.

Woolard, a candidate for Mayor of Atlanta in 2017, was confirmed by a vote of 4-2. State election officials largely opposed her nomination, highlighting her ties to Democratic voting rights groups such as Fair Fight, which was founded by Stacey Abrams. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, warned that Woolard will bring “an awful lot of bias to the process.” He is threatening to remove the entire county board of elections using the state’s controversial new election law.

Woolard was nominated for the post by Fulton County Commission Chairman Rob Pitts, who praised her as the “right choice” to lead the county board of elections during an unprecedented time. He also seemed to dismiss Raffensperger’s threat to remove the county election board, saying that he does not have the authority to do so.

The nomination further deepens the rift between Fulton County and the state election board. For several years, Georgia election officials have repeatedly pointed to the state’s largest county as the source of most election irregularities. It has reached a boiling point over the last year, following a record-breaking turnout election that saw most ballots cast by mail.

Meteorologist criticizes ATL over potholes

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms responded to criticism from a local meteorologist over the city’s pothole problems.

Glenn Burns is the chief meteorologist at Atlanta’s WSB-TV, a position he has held for the last 35 years. On Tuesday, Burns shared a photo of damage to his car, saying that it was caused by a “massive pothole” on Peachtree Street in Midtown. He said on Twitter that his rim was smashed and that his side mirror was knocked out. “[I] assume Atlanta will never ever fix these,” his tweet concluded.

Mayor Bottoms responded to Burns’ criticism the next day, apologizing on behalf of the city. But she also said it was disappointing for Burns, who she called “an icon in our city,” to assume the worst. She instructed him to call 311 and give the nearest address so that the city could have the hole repaired.

Burns later apologized for his criticism and withdrew his complaint. Bottoms then said that the city will continue to address the potholes and that the public’s help in reporting these issues is “always appreciated.”

ATL Mayor: Candidates to debate Tuesday as polls show competitive race

Mark your calendars: The leading candidates vying to become Atlanta’s next Mayor are set to take part in their first formal debate next Tuesday, September 21 at 7:00PM.

The debate will air on adult R&B station KISS 104.1 and will be moderated by longtime Atlanta radio personality Frank Ski. Voters who wish to submit questions for the candidates can do so here.

The debate will give voters an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates in what is shaping up to be a very competitive race: a new poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution finds former Mayor Kasim Reed leading the field with 23.5%, followed by City Council President Felicia Moore’s 20.4%. No other candidate garnered more than 6%.

This Week in Washington

Let’s go over some of this week’s biggest stories from our nation’s capital. President Joe Biden delivered a speech highlighting the importance of the wealthy paying their fair share in taxes. The nation’s top health experts are weighing in on statements made by a well-known rapper about the COVID-19 vaccine. Plus, national Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s victory in the California recall, and a lawyer with ties to the Democratic National Committee has been indicted for making false statements to the FBI.

NEW: GOP State Senator crafting abortion bill similar to Texas’

A top Republican in the Georgia State Senate is currently crafting anti-abortion legislation similar to what was recently passed in Texas, according to new overnight reporting from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) says that he would like for the bill to be introduced in the 2022 legislative session, which begins in January. Miller, who is also a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, is writing the legislation with help from anti-abortion groups.

Georgia passed a six-week abortion ban in 2019, but it is currently being litigated and has not gone into effect. But unlike the new law in Texas, Georgia’s 2019 law allowed exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

Have a good weekend!