Political Notes — Ralston appoints rural development panel members

[private]House Speaker David Ralston has appointed 26 House members to his newly created House Rural Development Council that has been tasked with coming up with ideas to revitalize the state’s lagging rural areas.

“Georgia is a growing and prosperous state, and we are thankful for that,” Ralston said. “But that prosperity isn’t being felt in every community across Georgia. Some of our rural areas are still struggling, and we must do everything we can to help private businesses grow jobs in every corner of our state.”

The council will be co-chaired by Appropriations Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) and Ways & Means Chairman Jay Powell (R-Camilla). Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), who chairs the House Rural Caucus, will be vice chair of the council.

The other council members include Reps. Patty Bentley (D-Butler), John Corbett (R-Lake Park), Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin), Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville), Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas), Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee), Chad Nimmer (R-Blackshear), Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn), Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville), Ed Rynders (R-Albany), Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville), and Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville).

In addition, Ralston has named 11 committee chairmen to serve as ex-officio members of the council based on their subject-area expertise:

Reps. Brooks Coleman (education), Sharon Cooper (health & human services), Robert Dickey (K-12 education – appropriations), Penny Houston (economic development – appropriations), Rick Jasperse (higher education), Tom McCall (agriculture & consumer affairs), Butch Parrish (healthcare – appropriations), Don Parsons (energy, utilities & telecommunications), Jason Shaw (transportation & infrastructure – appropriations), Ron Stephens (economic development), and Kevin Tanner (transportation).

New city attorney

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has named Jeremy Berry as the new city attorney, replacing Cathy Hampton.

Berry is currently a partner at Dentons US, formerly McKenna, Long & Aldridge, and has focused his legal practice on governmental and regulatory affairs, government and public policy litigation, government contracts, and political law.

“Over the last decade, I’ve gotten to know Jeremy as a talented attorney and as an active, dedicated member of his community,” Reed said. “I believe he will bring his unique insight and valuable experience to this role, and will serve the people of Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council and my administration in an exemplary fashion.”

Rest in peace

Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, the first openly gay candidate ever elected to the commission, died Tuesday from complications of breast cancer. Her wife was Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison.

“Joan was a trailblazer in our movement for equality in Georgia and across the South,” said Simone Bell, the regional director of Lambda Legal. “In her work with many organizations and communities, including being a founding Member of SONG (Southerners On New Ground), she served as a mentor to me and countless others who wanted to devote their lives to justice.”

“Joan was respected by all who had the privilege to work with her,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said. “She was a true community leader, fighting for the rights of LGBT women and men, including pushing for domestic partner benefits for City of Atlanta employees. The people of Fulton County have lost a treasured voice, but her impact and legacy will not be forgotten.”

Garner’s death, along with John Eaves’ resignation to run for mayor of Atlanta, leaves two vacancies on the Fulton County Commission.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: David Ralston , Jeremy Berry , Joan Garner , rural development