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Thursday June 24th, 2021 9:31AM

Editorial Roundup: Georgia

By The Associated Press

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

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Dec. 29

The Daily Citizen-News on early voting for the U.S. senate runoffs in Georgia:

If you’re a Georgian of voting age and are unaware there are upcoming runoff elections for two U.S. Senate seats, you may be living under a rock.

Or you’ve disconnected your phone, stopped your mail, quit watching television, abstained from social media, have paid no attention to the news and have an extremely small social circle.

Talk about the two Senate runoffs between incumbent Kelly Loeffler (a Republican) and the Rev. Raphael Warnock (a Democrat) and incumbent David Perdue (a Republican) and Jon Ossoff (a Democrat) is seemingly unavoidable. Millions of dollars have been funneled into all four campaigns, which translates into mailers stuffing your mailbox, robocalls and robotexts filling your phones, and a barrage of campaign advertisements playing almost nonstop on your television.

On Tuesday, Jan. 5, Georgians will choose the state’s two U.S. senators during the runoffs -- and the cascade of candidate information will hopefully end on that day.

Eyes are on the Peach State as these two races could decide the balance of power in the Senate. Republicans currently hold a 50-48 majority, but if both Georgia Democrats win that would even the count at 50 senators for each party, giving Democrat Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, the potential deciding vote.

Georgians have been able to cast their votes early since Dec. 14. Whitfield County’s advance voting schedule gives voters 12 days over three weeks to cast their ballots before the election, and residents have three more days -- today, Wednesday and Thursday -- to vote early. There is no advance voting on New Year’s Day as the courthouse is closed.

Early voting is in the Board of Elections office in the Whitfield County courthouse (205 N. Selvidge St., suite K) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days.

So far, early voting turnout has been strong, carrying the momentum from a record-setting Nov. 3 general election.

On that day, Perdue and Ossoff both fell short of the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff. In the other U.S. Senate race, Loeffler and Warnock emerged as the top two vote-getters in a crowded contest in a special election for the seat vacated by Republican Johnny Isakson because of health reasons. Warnock received 32.9% of the vote while Loeffler received 25.9%.

We urge everyone to vote, whether it’s during the early voting period, through absentee ballot or on next Tuesday.

Online: https://www.dailycitizen.news/

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Dec. 28

The Brunswick News on penalties for people who drive under the influence of alcohol in Georgia:

Adopting harsher penalties for those who get behind the wheel of a vehicle when intoxicated ought to be top among new legislation considered when the Georgia General Assembly convenes in January for the 2021 session. Too many innocent people are losing their lives or having to cope with serious disabilities because someone did not know when to stop drinking or have sense enough to stay out of the driver’s seat when they had too much.

One of the latest victims locally was a Virginia man traveling south on Interstate 95 in Glynn County who forfeited his life Christmas morning to the driver of another vehicle identified by the Georgia State Patrol as a drunk motorist. The inebriated driver ran into the back of the car, killing the Virginia man and sending his spouse, child and nephew to the hospital.

State patrol charged the culprit, a 33-year-old Ellenwood man, with first degree vehicular homicide, DUI and hit-and-run.

Georgia law ought to be changed to allow for heavier charges, like murder. Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle drunk is tantamount to playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun. Anyone playing the game could face serious charges if the weapon discharged and killed the recipient of the projectile.

The same ought to be true for drunk driving when it results in the injury or death of another human being.

While the legislature is at it, it might think about toughening up the consequences for anyone caught driving who’s over the legal alcohol limit. Confiscating the vehicle, higher fines and more time in jail ought to be among the considerations. Too bad they can’t be forced to notify, in person, the surviving family members of a loved one’s demise in the next DUI incident.

Something has to be done. What’s on the books now is not working. Just count the number of DUIs recorded weekly in this community alone. It’s almost enough to keep sober drivers off the roads and highways.

Party hosts and establishments that serve alcohol for on-premise consumption can help. They can by refusing to allow those who have had too much to drink from attempting to drive themselves home. If not this, then something else, like requiring a designated driver or calling a taxi. Surely they can come up with a way to protect guests and innocents on the highway from patrons or guests who are intoxicated.

There are many deaths society cannot prevent. Death by drunk driver should not be one of them.

Online: https://thebrunswicknews.com/

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Dec. 26

Rome News-Tribune on a Georgia county's outgoing sheriff:

A saying attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle goes something like this: If you can’t follow, you’re not going to make a good leader.

Floyd County’s sheriff, Tim Burkhalter, who will be retiring from that post a few days after this editorial is published, is a good leader.

He learned how to be a good leader by working his way through the ranks and learning from other leaders, like retiring Chief Deputy Tommy McGuire and others.

During a recent roast, in the guise of a farewell gathering, McGuire and former sheriff’s deputy Scotty Hancock talked a little about those qualities of leadership that Tim might have learned early on.

If the stories are to be believed about our sheriff in his younger days, he’d gotten himself and Scotty into some trouble and they ended up before the very man Tim would make his chief deputy many years later.

Now Tommy was known for being a firm disciplinarian but was also known for having the ability to realize that the past is the past. You make a mistake, and hopefully you get to move on from that mistake.

He’d take those he’d had to admonish out to lunch later to let them know bygones are bygones.

That’s a lesson Tim seemed to take to heart.

Another facet of a good leader is knowing how to delegate responsibility and there’s one thing about our soon-to-be former sheriff — he knew how to find the best person for the job and talk them into doing that job.

Kind of a Tom Sawyer white picket fence situation if you think about it.

When voters approved SPLOST-funding for a jail expansion in the form of a medical pod with a mental health wing as well as a new training center, Tim Burkhalter looked around for the best person for the job.

He found the ever competent Maj. Bob Sapp to take care of it.

You know, to be fair, Tim probably deserved to take a few days to go hunting for nailing that decision.

In other cases, like the Sheriff’s Santa program, Tim found his executive assistant Mechelle Cliatt to take over. She’s been the driving force behind that program for years and this year the program distributed gifts to over 300 children.

Again, he probably deserved a few days of relaxation on a fishing boat for that one too.

Are you sensing a pattern? Whenever competent and capable hands took the wheel, Tim took a break. We think it’s a good omen, then, that he’s about to take a much deserved retirement break since the very competent and extremely capable hands of Dave Roberson have taken the wheel.

It appears that Dave, like others under Tim’s watchful gaze, has been given the tools, the training and most importantly the good example to assume the mantle of leadership. And Tim can step away (into a deer stand or a fishing boat) knowing the job is in good hands.

Anytime a person is in a leadership position there are always going to be bumps in the road. It’s how you handle those difficulties that is a true reflection of your character.

Under Tim’s tenure there have been issues at the jail which might have been easier to try and sweep under the rug, but for the most part he didn’t. We’ve dealt with our local sheriff’s office on a daily basis for years and are appreciative of their efforts to provide us with public documents largely without issues.

That may not sound like praise to some, but that flow of information from the sheriff’s office to the public (through the media) is not as reliable everywhere in this state, or even in Northwest Georgia. We realize that and appreciate the cooperation of our sheriff and the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.

Humor aside, this year has been one to test even the best of them on a number of different levels. We feel that Tim Burkhalter has handled himself remarkably well.

Online: https://www.northwestgeorgianews.com/

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