Sample Ballot & Early Voting

October 26, 2008

Please click here to download a copy of the DeKalb County sample ballot for the 2008 General Election. This sample ballot is in PDF format and you will need Adobe Acrobat reader to view it.

Georgia’s early voting period for the General Election is this week. You can vote Monday through Friday, October 27 through 31, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County Voter Registration & Elections office, 4380 Memorial Drive, or at one of the following locations which are more convenient to our community:

Brook Run – 4770 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody 30338

Northlake – DeKalb County Fire Headquarters, Training Conference Room, 1950 West Exchange Place, Tucker 30084

Downtown Decatur – 330 West Ponce deLeon Avenue, Room A, Decatur 30030

Your regular polling place will be open on Tuesday, November 4, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Secretary of State Karen Handel and DeKalb County election officials recommend voting early to avoid long lines on Election Day. Please remember to bring a photo ID.


Georgia Conservation Voters Endorsement

October 22, 2008

I am pleased to report that I have been endorsed by the Georgia Conservation Voters (GCV) for re-election this year. GCV is the state’s leading environmental advocacy organization. You can read GCV’s list of bipartisan endorsements here (click for link).

For my work in preserving Georgia’s natural heritage, reining in overdevelopment, and advocating for transit solutions as a member of the House Transportation Committee and MARTA Oversight Committee, I have received GCV’s Environmental Leadership Award every year I have served in the General Assembly: 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Thanks for the vote of confidence, GCV!


About the Georgia Constitutional Amendments & DeKalb County Ballot Questions

October 22, 2008

As I knock on doors and talk with constituents in our community, I am frequently asked to explain the various constitutional amendments and ballot questions on which we’ll be voting this year. Here is some information to help you make informed decisions about this year’s ballot issues:

Amendment 1 (Statewide): “To encourage the preservation of Georgia’s forests through a conservation-use property tax reduction program.”

This will allow owners of at least 200 acres of forested land a property tax reduction if they agree to preserve the forest. If the land owner breaks the agreement within fifteen years, all back taxes and penalties must be paid.

Amendment 2 (Statewide): “To authorize local school districts to use tax funds for community redevelopment purposes.”

Tax Allocation Districts (TADs) are created to finance infrastructure projects in blighted or economically distressed areas by capturing increases in property taxes that result from increased property values.

Local school districts had participated in TADs based on the theory that school systems would benefit as higher property values resulted in increased school tax funding. Earlier this year, the Georgia Supreme Court held school district participation in TADs unconstitutional. This amendment would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision.

The problem is that in recent years, TADs have been used to benefit developers in areas that are not blighted or economically distressed. The recently adopted TAD at North Druid Hills and Briarcliff Roads is an example of this. On the other hand, the redevelopment of Atlantic Station is generally regarded as an appropriate and successful use of a TAD.

Please click here for prior commentary I wrote about this amendment.

Amendment 3 (Statewide): “To authorize the creation of special Infrastructure Development Districts providing infrastructure to underserved areas.”

Infrastructure Development Districts (IDDs) would allow developers to create infrastructure like roads and sewers in new developments and levy taxes on future property owners to pay for the improvements. This would allow counties and cities to finance infrastructure in a defined area without raising taxes on all property owners. However, it also gives private entities the power to float bonds and levy taxes.

DeKalb County Referendum: “Shall the Act be approved which provides for the presiding officer to preside over meetings of the DeKalb County Commission and for the commission to establish its own agenda for such meetings?”

This will rein in the powers of the DeKalb CEO and enable our elected county commissioners to be a more effective “check and balance” against the CEO’s powers. I was proud to co-sponsor and champion this legislation in the House of Representatives. I encourage you to vote YES on this measure.

Please click here for more information about this referendum.

DeKalb County Board of Education Nonbinding Advisory Referendum: “Should the DeKalb County Board of Education require that students in kindergarten through fifth grades wear school uniforms?”

This vote is advisory only and will not force any action by the School Board.


Vote YES on Senate Bill 52

October 2, 2008

Since the day I began serving you in the State House almost four years ago, I have been pushing to reform DeKalb County’s “strong CEO” form of government.

The CEO presides over county commission meetings, sets the agenda for those meetings, votes in the event of a tie, has the power to veto legislation, directs the county staff, who serve at the CEO’s pleasure, and is responsible for the day-to-day administration of county services.

That is too much power to give any single elected official. In a county of 740,000 people, it makes no sense to have a system where our elected county commissioners are completely marginalized.

This year, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 52 to rein in the powers of the DeKalb CEO. I was proud to co-sponsor and champion this legislation.

SB 52 will give the county commission the power to conduct and set the agenda for its own meetings. That will enable our county commissioners to be a more effective “check and balance” against the CEO’s powers.

The President doesn’t preside over Congress, the Governor doesn’t preside over the General Assembly, and the CEO shouldn’t preside over the DeKalb County Commission.

SB 52 must be ratified by DeKalb voters in the November 4th election in order to take effect. I encourage you to vote in favor of this referendum.

If you would like to see an example of why SB 52 is a good idea, please take a look at the below YouTube videos. This is slightly more than 12 minutes of a county commission meeting broken into three parts. Warning: This is not the county commission’s finest moment.


Energy & Water Efficient Sales Tax Holiday

October 2, 2008

Just a friendly reminder that Thursday, October 2, through Sunday, October 5, is Georgia’s sales tax holiday for energy efficient and water efficient products. Products exempt from the usual 7% sales tax include “Energy Star” refrigerators, washers and dryers, and other major appliances, ceiling fans, windows and doors, fluorescent light bulbs, and low-flow bathroom fixtures and showerheads.


Atlanta Greek Festival & Brookhaven Arts Festival

October 2, 2008

Two of my favorite annual House District 80 events are coming up the next two weekends. If you are looking for something to do, the food, sights, and sounds at these events can’t be beat:

Atlanta Greek Festival – Runs Thursday, October 2, through Sunday, October 5, at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 2500 Clairmont Road. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children under 12. Go there hungry. The food is great! Extra parking and a shuttle bus to the event are available at Century Center. Visit www.atlantagreekfestival.org for more information.

Brookhaven Arts Festival – Next Saturday and Sunday, October 11 and 12, on Apple Valley Road behind the Brookhaven MARTA Station. Admission is free. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the festival. Evan and I enjoy strolling through this festival every year and have artwork from the event hanging in our home. Visit www.brookhavenartsalliance.com for more information.


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