Happy Friday! This week was a pivotal one on the state and local politics beat.
Here are some of the top political headlines you should know about heading into the weekend:
Dickens talks public safety and housing during first State of the City address
At his inaugural State of the City address on Monday, Mayor Andre Dickens summed up the work his administration completed during its first three months in office.
That work includes opening a new police precinct in Buckhead Village. Dickens also touted his Safe Streets Plan and previous remarks he’s made about taking a “balanced approach to safety and justice.”
The mayor said the city already added 10,000 lights to deter would-be criminals from gathering in dimly lit areas at night in conjunction with his “Light up the Night” campaign.
Dickens also announced that his office is creating a Nightlife Division tasked with helping businesses that have a history of high crime in their vicinity. He said the new division will host quarterly training sessions to educate businesses about security, de-escalating violence, and emergency response.
The mayor elaborated on recently unveiled plans to add more officers to the city’s ranks.
“We are on track to bring on 250 officers within the calendar year,” he said.
It wasn’t all about public safety. Dickens also addressed housing and homeownership inequality, highlighting his plan to build or maintain 20,000 affordable housing units over the next eight years.
Republicans push through controversial bills on Sine Die 2022
The last day of Georgia’s 2022 legislative session, aka Sine Die, saw GOP lawmakers working overnight on Monday to push through a set of contentious bills.
They include a measure giving the Georgia Bureau of Investigation authority to investigate voter fraud allegations during close elections, legislation introduced in response to national right-wing concerns about election integrity following the 2020 presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
A separate bill would put limits on how race-related “divisive concepts” are taught in K-12 schools. A last-minute amendment to that bill would give athletic associations in Georgia the authority to keep transgender student athletes from competing on girls’ sports teams.
Gov. Brian Kemp celebrated the passage of these bills on social media. He’s expected to sign them in the coming days.
Click here for a more-detailed breakdown of what passed on Sine Die 2022.
Longtime state Rep. Calvin Smyre bids farewell to the state Capitol
State Rep. Calvin Smyre is leaving his position after 48 years of service at the Capitol. The 74-year-old Democrat from Columbus is set to become ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
President Joe Biden nominated Smyre for the prestigious role in September.
Smyre’s colleagues at the state Capitol celebrated his career accomplishments serving in the general assembly. The Georgia Democratic Party called him “the definition of a statesman” on Monday after serving for nearly half a century.
Gov. Brian Kemp praised Smyre as well.
Herschel Walker continues ignoring GOP primary opponents — and it’s working
Herschel Walker, who is vying to become the state’s second Black U.S. senator, has avoided most media interviews and debates with his Republican primary challengers so far this year, and for good reason.
An Emerson College poll released Tuesday has the former Heisman Trophy winner and University of Georgia college football star leading Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock 49% to 45%, with 6% of respondents saying they were undecided.
The same poll showed Walker leading his GOP primary challengers by at least a 44% margin. It appears the 60-year-old former NFL running back’s name recognition and his earlier endorsement from former President Donald Trump have boosted his chances to secure a primary victory.
A fall matchup with Warnock, potentially the state’s first U.S. Senate race between two Black candidates now seems all but certain.