Archived News for Democrats
Towns County Census response expected to be high
Towns County’s response rate to the 2020 Census could exceed 95 percent, Towns County Democrats heard Thursday night.
Pat Malone, chairman of the Governor’s Complete Count Committee for Towns and Union Counties said he bases that estimation on Towns’ 88 percent response in 2010, the highest response rate among Georgia’s 159 counties. He also said the county’s current population of approximately 12,000 is expected to be higher as a result of the decennial count.
The constitutionally required Census starts in earnest on April 1. Malone stated its purpose is to create an historical record of the nation’s population and form the basis for apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the state legislatures, along with the allocation of federal funds. The first U.S. Census occurred in 1790.
The 2010 Census resulted in an additional seat for Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives: the 9th Congressional District which includes Towns and 19 other north Georgia counties. Census officials anticipate the 2020 count will result in 10 states losing one House seat and seven states gaining seats, including as many as three for Florida and two for Texas.
Based on its population in 2016, Malone said Georgia gets back some $2,000 per person in federal funds and another $1.4 billion through rural assistance programs. Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (food stamps), Medicare Part B, and highway planning and construction are just some of the 82 federal programs whose funds are distributed to states based on their population, he said.
The Census will be conducted online for the first time this year. For those without access to a computer or Internet service, paper and telephone versions are available, according to Malone. Additionally, all Towns County public libraries will have dedicated Census computers available.
He said residents will be asked how many people live at the residence and whether the residence is owned or rented. Individuals will be asked to provide their name, gender, age, date of birth, race, whether they live at the residence or somewhere else, and their relationship to the head of the household.
Towns Countians should begin receiving in the mail on March 12 a postcard reminder about the upcoming Census which will include the website address. Reminder letters will be mailed between March 26 and April 3. Those who have not completed the online process between April 8 and 26 will be mailed a paper form to complete, with a final reminder arriving between April 20 and 27.
Malone said Census enumerators will make personal visits to households who have not responded by the end of May, with enumerators going out “six different times, six different days of the week, and six different times of the day.” He estimated some 180 people are needed to serve as enumerators for Towns County, and applications are still being taken at 2020census.gov/jobs. Enumerators are paid $17 an hour and mileage, he said. Training will be conducted in mid-March.
Census material will be available in 17 different languages with 40 additional language translators available if needed. Students living on campus and those living in assisted living or nursing homes or other group settings will be reported by the facilities’ administrators. Enumerators will seek out homeless citizens as well.
Also at Thursday’s monthly meeting, Towns Democrats selected David Plunkett of Young Harris to fill a party vacancy on the bipartisan county Board of Elections and Registration. He would replace Jim Powell of Hiawassee whose term has expired.
Democrats also heard from David Cooper of Rabun County, a candidate for Georgia State House District 8 which includes Towns, Union, Rabun and White counties.
Along with Towns County Republicans, Towns Democrats are presently assisting with training for the annual Top of Georgia Student Public Speaking Contest which is scheduled for March 10 at 6 p.m. at the county Civic Center in Hiawassee. The public is invited and admission is free.
Towns County Democrats meet the second Thursday of each month at the civic center. A pot-luck meal at 6 p.m. is followed by the meeting at 6:30. For more information about local Democratic activities, visit www.townsdemocrats.com or contact them at email@example.com.
Training Begins for Top of Georgia Speech Contest Set for March 10
Six weeks of training began yesterday, Jan. 21, at the Towns County Senior Center for the 12th annual Top of Georgia Student Public Speaking Contest, which is scheduled for March 10.
The Top of Georgia Student Development Organization is sponsoring the 2020 contest. The program welcomes all students in grades 6 through 12, including Towns County public- and private-school students as well as local students who are home schooled. Samantha Church, last year’s winner who is homeschooled and dual enrolled at Young Harris College and North Georgia Technical College, is the lead organizer for this year’s contest.
“I remember the first time I went to the public speaking training program. My knees were shaking and I was very nervous to simply introduce myself in front of everyone, Miss Church said. “Being involved with the program for the past three years has given me confidence in my public speaking skills and has positively impacted my life and the way I communicate with others.”
Application forms are available in local stores as well as the Towns County Public Library in Hiawassee and the Mountain Regional Library in Young Harris. Interested students may also obtain applications from their teachers. The completed form must be returned to one of the contacts listed on the form.
The contest committee and trainers have been diligently working for several weeks to make this year’s contest the best yet. They are developing and simplifying the judging criteria. Trainers represent local business men and women and educators and leaders in the community who have experience in public speaking and a passion for investing the younger generation, including trainers from both the Towns County Republican and Democratic committees who are working with contest in a joint venture.
Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw attended a couple of organizing meetings and is very supportive of the program, saying he is enthusiastic about what this endeavor will promote within the next generation and within the community.
Student speakers may choose their own topic and must present a speech of at least three minutes and no longer than six minutes. Prizes are $400 for first place, $300 for second place, $200 for third place, and $100 for fourth place. Prize amounts are the same for the high-school and middle-school divisions. Contest winners are subsequently invited to present their speeches to local civic and governmental organizations in order to give the speakers and the program visibility in the community as well as to educate more people on their chosen topic.
“This county-wide event is extremely powerful and invests in the lives of students in the community every year,” Miss Church stated. “This is an opportunity that no one should pass up as it could change their lives and give them opportunities they would not have had otherwise.”
Speeches will be presented judged at a public event on March 10, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee. Admission is free. The contest could continue on additional nights if student participation warrants multiple judging events.
For further information, contact Sam Fullerton at 706-994-4658.
Towns County Democratic Survey
In November 2019 Towns County Democrats were polled on their Presidential preferences and policy priorities in an unofficial survey. Elizabeth Warren received the most votes, while Healthcare was the top priority for respondents.
Every respondent committed to vote for any Democrat in the 2020 elections. The top candidates and issues were:
Presidential Primary Choices
1st place Elizabeth Warren
2nd place tie: Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden
3rd place tie: Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders
1st place Healthcare,
2nd place Environment (climate)
3rd place Fair Elections,
4th place Gun Violence,
5th place Civil Rights (end discrimination),
6th place Immigration
The following priorities tied at 7th place:
Science & Technology
Jobs & Economy,
National Security, and
Write-In: defeat dishonest president trump (probably unanimous if it had been a question!)
BIG THANK YOU TO OUR FRIENDS & SUPPORTERS
North Georgia Democrats Hear from Candidates
Democrats from across seven north Georgia counties gathered Saturday afternoon, Oct. 26, at Meeks Parks in Blairsville to hear candidates for federal offices, share a meal, listen to local musicians, and learn how they can help the planet.
Hosted by the Towns and Union counties Democratic committees, Blue Fest featured U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff of Atlanta and Dan Wilson of Rabun County, prospective candidate for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ossoff, who is seeking to replace incumbent Sen. David Perdue, is running an anti-corruption campaign in his effort to claim the party’s nomination in the March 24 Georgia primary. Ossoff set campaign fundraising records in the 2017 special election to fill Georgia’s 6th congressional district House seat. He has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation.
Wilson spoke of finding common ground between Democrats and Republicans as the means of ending today’s current political polarization, which he said is harming the country. An ordained United Methodist Church minister, Wilson is expected to make an announcement about his candidacy for the House seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins once Gov. Brian Kemp appoints the person who will serve out the remainder of Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. Isakson is resigning from the Senate effective Dec. 31. Collins is counted among the front-runners for the appointment.
Local Democrats also heard from a spokesman for Matt Lieberman of Atlanta, who was the first Georgia Democrat to make public his intention to run for Isakson’s seat.
Blue Fest drew Democrats from Towns, Union, Fannin, Rabun, Hall, Dawson, and White counties to Meeks Park. In addition to the candidates, they heard music by guitarist and singer Nelson Thomas, who is also chair of the Union County Democratic Committee, and keyboardist Mike Davis. Towns County Democratic Committee Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski also welcomed June Krise, 9th District Democratic chair, who emphasized ongoing voter-registration efforts throughout the state and who encouraged Democrats to identify candidates for state legislative seats and county positions.
Betty Holland, chair of the Dawson County Democratic Committee and founder of the North Georgia Conservation Coalition, presented measures Georgians can take to reduce their plastic footprint and to reduce energy costs and thereby lower carbon emissions which are contributing to global climate change.
Towns County Democrats meet the second Thursday of the month at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee. A pot-luck meal begins at 6 p.m. and the meeting starts at 6:30.
Towns County Democrats Hear Bradshaw's Goals, Accomplishments
Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw told county Democrats last week that one of the biggest challenges facing him as commissioner is managing the county’s expected growth.
“We are going to expand, and we need to be involved with that growth because we want it to be controlled growth,” Bradshaw told the Aug. 8 monthly Democratic Party gathering at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee. He cited an increase in tourism tax dollars from $37 million to $41 million in the past three years as evidence of a growing local economy. “The only way we are going to grow the economy here is more population, but we also have to consider how much do we want to grow and how,” he added.
Bradshaw responded to questions and spoke to the Democrats for almost an hour about accomplishments during his first three years in office as well as future goals. Clearly enthusiastic about his time in office, Bradshaw told the Democrats “I love doing this job. I work every day for the people, and I don’t know how they vote and I don’t care. My job is to be the very best commissioner I can be for Towns County. My job is to protect our mountaintops, to keep the county clean, and to keep our water clean.”
County Democratic Party Chairwoman Charlotte Sleczkowski said she appreciated Bradshaw taking the time to share his vision for the county with the group. “We want to work alongside Commissioner Bradshaw as he strives to make Towns County a great place to live and work,” she said. “Our mutual goals for the county have no political distinction.”
A challenge related to growth is providing a skilled labor force to supply the needs of businesses, beyond the restaurant and service industry, that want to locate here, he said. Additional traffic comes with growth, and Bradshaw stated he will be meeting with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the state transportation director later this month regarding installing a left-turn lane on U.S. 76 West near Papa’s Pizza.
Among the accomplishments of his first term Bradshaw listed:
Remodeling the old county recreation center gym with new lighting, roofing, painting, and flooring, making it pickleball friendly.
Building a new fire station on Highway 66 in Young Harris and the addition of a helicopter landing pad there to provide a second site for medical evacuations. He also noted the fire station will contribute to lower home insurance rates for people in that part of the county.
Replacing county road equipment, particularly old dump trucks with high repair bills.
Adding a recycling station for electronics (cell phones, TVs, printers, computers, etc.) at the county dump.
Maintaining the $3.1 million financial reserve which he inherited from the previous commissioner. Any funding above that amount will be used to improve the county, Bradshaw said.
The county’s 2018 audit report also showed general revenue increases of more than $600,000 as a result of efficiency changes Bradshaw said he has instituted without any increase in taxes since 2007.
Instituting a veterans’ program that formally recognizes any veteran who has grown up in Towns County, graduated from the county high school, or who has moved into the county. The program is carried out in cooperation with the local VFW chapter and includes a suicide hotline.
Bradshaw cited as a primary goal reclaiming for the county the 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) which expires for county schools in 2020. “We want to get it for the county to remodel the courthouse. It’s time,” he said. Another fire station near the Emergency Management Services building is another goal he listed.
He also plans to renegotiate the county medical airlift contract, which he emphasized covers every fulltime homeowner in Towns County, with the county covering the fee. Bradshaw said the current contract has a cap on the price so the county doesn’t pay more if the airlift service flies out more people than in the previous year. He wants the new contract also to provide a lower cost if the service flies out fewer people than in the previous year.
Towns County Democrats will meet again on Sept. 20 at the county Civic Center. A potluck dinner will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the business meeting at 6:30.
Towns County Residents Help Launch North Georgia Young Democrats Chapter
Four Towns County residents were among those present Saturday, April 6, 2019, for the kickoff of the Northeast Georgia Young Democrats chapter. Bob and Charlotte Sleczkowski and Meredith and Sven Legg-Grady, all of Hiawassee, attended the picnic at Tallulah Gorge State Park along with some 30 other young adults and alumni from Towns, Rabun, Habersham, Hall, and Stephens counties, as well as Democrats from North Carolina.
Rachel Paule, president of the Young Democrats of Georgia, and Justin Holsomback, secretary of the Democratic Party of Georgia, made brief presentations. Also on hand was Josh McCall, Ninth District Democratic Party chairman. Chapter leaders are Trenton Hobby of Stephens County, chair; Malina Rawlins of Rabun County, vice chair, promotions; Kelsey Dillard of Habersham County, vice chair, membership; Alex Rawlins of Rabun County, secretary; and Maddie Ballentine of Rabun County, treasurer.
Towns County Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski invited all Towns County Democrats to participate in the chapter’s next monthly meeting on Thursday, May 9, 2019, which will be a joint event with Union County Democrats. Sarah Riggs Amico, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Georgia lieutenant governor, will speak. A pot-luck meal will begin at 6:00 followed by the meeting at 6:30 at the Unity Church of Blairsville, 298 School Circle.
Towns County Democrats are presently taking donations for the chapter’s scholarship fund which will benefit a Towns County student attending college locally.
Towns County Represented at Big Blue BBQ
Six local residents represented Towns County at the Rabun County Democrats’ Big Blue Barbeque in Clayton on Saturday, June 29, 2019.
County Democratic Party chair Charlotte Sleczkowski and husband Bob, county party treasurer Karen Powell and husband Jim, all of Hiawassee, and David and Vickie Plunkett of Young Harris joined some 175 Democrats from seven north Georgia counties at the second annual event held at Moonrise Distillery.
Featured speakers were Daniel Blackman, the first black person elected to office in Forsyth County, who announced at the event that he will be running for a seat in 2020 on the Georgia Public Service Commission, and Sarah Riggs Amico, who said she is “giving serious consideration” to challenging Georgia’s junior senator, David Perdue, whose U.S. Senate seat is up for election in 2020. Riggs Amico was the Democratic nominee for Georgia lieutenant governor in 2018.
Both Blackman and Amico stressed to their fellow Democrats the importance of ensuring “nothing goes unchallenged” by fielding candidates for every state, local, and congressional office (Georgia’s 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and one seat in the U.S. Senate) on the ballot in 2020. Blackman urged voters not to get comfortable or complacent or to settle for mediocrity or simplicity from candidates. Amico also cautioned to leave nothing unsaid, urging north Georgia activists to stress values and voice the conscience of the country.
Towns County Democrats meet on the second Thursday of each month at the Towns County Civic Center, 67 Lakeview Circle, in Hiawassee. The meeting is open to the public. Meetings begin with a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. followed by a business meeting at 6:30. Drinks and dinnerware will be provided.
Towns, Union Democrats Hear from 9th District Chairman Josh McCall
Ninth District Democratic Party Chairman Josh McCall told Towns and Union County Democrats on Thursday, March 14, 2019, to have hope for better things ahead and keep fighting for their neighbors.
McCall, who was the Democratic candidate for Georgia’s Ninth Congressional District in 2018, cited the 55,000-plus Democratic votes cast in the 2018 race which far exceeded the 37,000 cast in 2014 as a sign the party is making progress in the Ninth District, which includes 17 counties in northeast Georgia. The 55,000 votes were in stark contrast to 2016, when there was no Democratic candidate to challenge the incumbent U.S. representative.
McCall urged local Democrats to continue fighting for their neighbors’ Medicare and Social Security which are under attack in the proposed fiscal year 2020 federal budget submitted to Congress by President Trump last week. He also noted that the family leave act introduced by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) would be paid for by transferring funds from the family member’s Social Security account.
McCall cautioned the group not to place too much hope in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and upcoming report, saying “The system is designed to be very kind and forgiving to billionaires.” The U.S. House of Representatives voted 420-0 last week to make Mueller’s report public, he noted.
Regarding the 2020 presidential race, McCall noted that Russian bot activity (phony social media accounts) in 2016 focused mostly on candidates Trump and Clinton but is now infiltrating the political left in an effort to create bitter divisions among the Democratic presidential candidates and their supporters. With such existential moral threats to the nation as immigrant children being detained in cages, McCall said Democrats cannot allow divisions to be sewn “or the next four-year presidential term will be even worse.” He added that Democratic people of faith, such as himself, should start speaking out from within their churches on such issues.
Ninth District Democratic county leaders will hold a district-wide meeting on March 23 in Dahlonega. McCall said he is developing plans for a district educational event on Medicaid eligibility as well as community-service events to aid the oppressed and marginalized residents of the district who were never covered by Roosevelt’s New Deal. He urged the local Democrats to “canvass not for a candidate but for a cause” in the Ninth District’s three regions: the foothills near South Carolina, the Georgia mountains, and the suburbs closer to Atlanta.
He characterized the proposed Green New Deal as a way of redirecting energy investments into employment in emerging energy sources such as solar, wind, and other models that work without pollution-producing coal and oil, which he stated “is not operating in a free market.” “Don’t be afraid of using the term ‘climate change,’” McCall told the group. As evidence of climate change’s impact, and the impact of tariffs, more farmers declared bankruptcy in 2018 than in the period since 2007, he said.
In closing, McCall noted the U.S. House is investigating Georgia’s voting issues, including the disenfranchisement of more than 800,000 voters prior to the 2018 election. He said H.R. 1, which would “expand Americans' access to the ballot box” (including making Election Day a federal holiday), “reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants,” will not get a vote in the U.S. Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has called it a Democratic power grab. The bill passed the U.S. House 234-193 on a strict party-line vote.
McCall advocated for ending the filibuster in the U.S. Senate which he said would stop the need for a super-majority of 60 votes to advance legislation and confirmations, and allow for a simple majority of 51 votes, and for statehood for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Towns County Democrats meet on the second Thursday of each month. Their next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on April 11 in the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee. In May, Towns and Union Democrats will hold another joint meeting at Unity Church in Blairsville at 6 p.m. to hear from Sarah Riggs Amico, the Democratic candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor in 2018.
From left: Karen Powell, David and Vickie Plunkett, Jim Powell, and Bob and Charlotte Sleczkowski attend the June 29, 2019 Big Blue BBQ in Clayton.