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  • Two years ago, student journalists with the Georgia News Lab asked the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office for the agency’s use of force policy, a public record readily available in every law enforcement agency’s operations manual. Cobb fulfilled the request — 54 days later. This year, News Lab repeated the exercise. Same request. Same policy. But Cobb sent the document the same day it received the request. The office took deliberate steps to improve following the poor performance cited in the News Lab story from 2016, according to Cmdr. Robert Quigley. “The sheriff made it very clear to the staff that we were going to do everything we could to meet the terms of open records (laws),” Quigley said. The public depends on the state’s sunshine laws to obtain information about the functioning of government and the performance of public officials. To test compliance with the law, in 2016 and again this year, the News Lab sent requests for routine public records to more than 140 local agencies and law enforcement offices in 13 metro counties. Law enforcement received a request for use of force policies, while governments received one for payroll records. The investigations found that nearly half of the agencies tested provided records faster than in 2016 — in some cases by weeks. But nearly a third of the agencies failed to meet the law’s requirement that they acknowledge a request within three business days and provide the records, or tell the requester when they will be available. The law requires agencies to promptly provide records that are readily available. News Lab journalists also encountered problems with how agencies responded to requests, from inappropriate demands for fees to staff who were unfamiliar with what the law requires. “This is definitely an indication about how much work there is to do,” said Georgia First Amendment Foundation President Richard T. Griffiths. “Cities and counties in Georgia have to do more about responding to requests from the public.” Atlanta adopts new procedures Georgia’s sunshine laws made news this year after the AJC and Channel 2 Action News reported that senior officials in the administration of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed frustrated requests for public records, prompting the Georgia Office of Attorney General to open the first-ever criminal investigation into violations of the open records act. The administration of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms enacted new compliance measures in response to a separate civil compliant the news organizations filed with the attorney general, which accused the city of systematic violations of open records law. Atlanta’s response times improved dramatically in 2018 under the new Bottoms administration. In 2016, the Atlanta Police Department’s open records division took 50 business days to provide its use of force policy. This year, the department provided the document in six days — but not without difficulty. It first sent a link to a website where all the department’s policies are posted. After a reporter sought clarification, the department sent the document along with details of where it was on the website. The city’s response to a request for payroll records also improved. In 2016, the city took 54 days to provide the records. This year, the city provided the record in four days — but with one hiccup. Three business days after submitting the request, a reporter received a call from press secretary Michael Smith asking what the information would be used for. Carolyn Carlson, a retired communications professor from Kennesaw State University who trained public officials on complying with the state’s sunshine laws, said it is not appropriate for agencies to ask why requesters want records. “It is none of their business,” Carlson said. “If it is a public record, you have a right to it no matter why you want it.” Atlanta’s proposed procedure for handling records requests from the media and the public will remove the mayor’s press office from the process and place it under an independent transparency officer. Other agencies improve Many other agencies also provided records more quickly this year. In 2016, 17 agencies took more than 20 days to provide requested records or never produced them at all, compared to 13 agencies this year. The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office sent records after three days but sent them by postal mail rather than emailing electronic copies as requested. In 2016, it took the office 54 days. Stone Mountain police and the city’s government provided records within three days that took the two agencies 46 and 19 days to provide in 2016. In 2016, the Henry County Police Department sent its use of force policy in less than an hour and a half. This year, it provided the policy just 10 minutes after the request went out — the fastest response of either year. “We are a … believer in open records,” said Henry Police Capt. Joey Smith. “It’s just a law we try to abide.” More than a quarter of the agencies took longer to provide records this year. More than half of the agencies provided compliant responses both years. Problems remain Human error, technical failings and a poor understanding of what the open records law requires were often at the root of an agency’s failure to comply with the law in a timely manner. College Park police and the city government complied with requests in one day in 2016 but took 18 and 31 days respectively to do so this year. Reporters learned the city clerk, who handles requests for both the city and the police, left her position the day the requests were submitted and the new clerk said she did not receive the requests or follow up messages left with her predecessor. Austell originally provided a cost estimate of $120 for its payroll records, including $100 for “attorney fees.” The city clerk told a reporter the fee covered time the city attorney spent determining if the records could be released. When the reporter informed the clerk that state law  does not allow such charges, the clerk replied that she was “not aware” of that provision and lowered the fee to $20. Carlson said that many errors in handling requests are the result of a poor understanding of the law. “It shows a lack of training mostly, I would say, for the people who are in charge of the records,” she said. “They don’t understand (the law), or haven’t been trained well enough.” Technical problems were also an issue. Requests emailed to Fulton County and its sheriff’s office were entered into a new online system. When the system showed the request for payroll records was still “processing” after nearly two weeks, a reporter emailed the designated records officer. She received an automated reply saying the officer’s response times would be “rather delayed” because she would be “spreading Employee Engagement Cheer throughout Fulton County” during Fulton County Employee Appreciation Week. In response to a request emailed to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, a reporter received a response after six business days that the requested document was ready for downloading but she was unable to access the online system. She only gained access three weeks later, after calling the sheriff’s office records custodian who created an account for her. The East Point city clerk did not respond to records requests for more than a week. In response to follow up messages, the clerk’s office explained that the clerk had been on vacation and had not received the requests. The office sent the police department’s use of force policy a week later. For payroll records, the clerk’s office sought copying charges of $6.70. They indicated they would not accept personal checks and that prepayment was required. A reporter reminded them that the request was for electronic records and that the law does not require agencies to demand prepayment if estimated fees are less than $500. The clerk sent the records four days later without charge. She later wrote that the city changed its policy on Nov. 1, and no longer charges for electronic records. CASE STUDY: CITY OF SOUTH FULTON ‘Your request has been closed’ Metro Atlanta’s newest city canceled a request — without providing records. In response to a request for payroll records to the city of South Fulton, the records administrator provided a fee estimate of over $57. After a reporter reminded the administrator that she requested the records in electronic form, the administrator responded that the document was ready at a cost of $28.85 for one hour’s work. The reporter made multiple requests for clarification of the work involved in processing the requests and whether the records would be provided as an electronic spreadsheet, as requested. Without clarifying, the administrator eventually sent a message stating that the request would be “closed out” if the reporter did not sign a statement accepting the charges. A week later, the reporter received notification that “your request has been closed.” “That’s not the procedure they should be following,” said Carolyn Carlson, a retired Kennesaw State University communications professor and expert in government transparency. “To suddenly dismiss the request instead of answering your questions is not right.” — Jade Abdul-Malik
  • President Donald Trump on Sunday urged Georgians to support Brian Kemp for governor, calling the Republican a “great leader” who would help advance the administration’s agenda and prevent Democrat Stacey Abrams from turning the state “into Venezuela.” >> Watch the news report here Trump cast Tuesday’s gubernatorial vote as a referendum on the “extraordinary prosperity that we’ve created” to a crowd of thousands arrayed in a cramped airport hangar outside Macon. “Will we let the Democrats take a giant wrecking ball to our economy and our future?” he asked the supporters, who roared in disapproval. “It can be destroyed very quickly. That’s why you have to get to the polls very quickly.” >> On AJC.com: PHOTOS: Donald Trump campaigns with Brian Kemp And he touted Kemp, the current secretary of state, as a candidate who would reinforce his administration’s decisions from Atlanta. “I know Brian. This guy doesn’t stop,” he told the crowd. “This is what you want. He’s an incredible manager. He’s been successful all the way up the line. He’ll bring it to heights you wouldn’t believe.” >> On WSBTV.com: Former President Obama visits Atlanta to campaign with Stacey Abrams Trump’s visit comes at a crucial moment in the tumultuous race for Georgia governor, as polls show Kemp and Abrams in a neck-and-neck race to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal. The two have sparred over every major political debate in Georgia, and they have drawn stars from their parties to boost their campaigns. Kemp hopes he’ll get the biggest bump from Trump, whom his aides believe can motivate voters in a state he won by 5 percentage points — even if it means alienating independent voters who abhor the president. His campaign strategy relies on ratcheting up high turnout in conservative pockets of the state to withstand losses in urban and suburban areas. He predicted the rally would give him “the momentum we need” to defy polls showing a tight race, and he told the crowd that a vote for him is a vote for Trump. “We will help,” he said. “We’ll work hard with this president to continue to make America great again.” The president’s influence among Georgia Republicans is undeniable: More than 91 percent of likely GOP voters said they approved of Trump in the latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution/WSB-TV poll. And Kemp has tied himself to Trump since entering the race, even echoing some of the president’s strategies with his “Georgia First” mantra. >> Jamie Dupree: Early vote shows clear surge, especially in younger voters Still, after winning the GOP nomination, Kemp’s been more likely to invoke the past two GOP governors — Deal and Sonny Perdue, now Trump’s secretary of agriculture — on the campaign trail than the president. But at this late stage in the race, his campaign aims to wring out as many Trump supporters as it can. Abrams has long avoided directly attacking Trump, wary of turning the race into a referendum on the president and energizing his GOP supporters. But she said Sunday in a televised appearance that his attacks describing her as “unqualified” are “vapid and shallow.” “I am the most qualified candidate,” she said, citing her Yale Law School education and legislative and business background. “There is no one more qualified standing for this office in Georgia. And I look forward to having the voters of Georgia say the same.” ‘Very nervous’ Trump was welcomed by many of the state’s top elected GOP officials, including Deal, Perdue and the ag chief’s first cousin, U.S. Sen. David Perdue. Thousands of Trump fans wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats crowded the stage, many holding signs saying “Jobs vs. Mobs” and “Promises Made. Promises Kept.” Among the throngs was Rose Brown, a Middle Georgia nurse who said the president’s tax-cut plan has reinforced her support for Republican candidates. She worries that Democrats will work to undercut those cuts. >> Jamie Dupree: White House touts gains in final pre-election jobs report “Socialists and Democrats do not understand that the government gets its money by taking it from the paychecks of working people,” she said. Ditto for Lee Mitchell, a 60-year-old letter carrier from outside of Culloden. He said he’s “very nervous” going into Tuesday’s vote. “I’m very much hoping that Kemp’s going to win and that we hold onto the House — because if we don’t, everything is going to stall,” he said. The apex In a speech that stretched for more than an hour, Trump addressed red-meat issues such as illegal immigration, Hillary Clinton and Democrats’ treatment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But the president returned repeatedly to attacks on Democrats centering on three themes: public safety, economic development and health care. He warned that Democratic opposition would damage economic gains over the past two years, and he said Abrams’ victory would trigger more crime. “She’ll make your schools and neighborhoods unsafe,” he said, “and make your jobs disappear like magic.” >> Jamie Dupree: Trump roils final campaign stretch – for both parties Abrams initially wanted to reverse a state income tax hike, but she has since reversed her stance. And she’s cast her plan to eliminate cash bail and decriminalize some drug offenses as an extension of Deal’s legacy, which has diverted more nonviolent offenders from costly prison cells. And she warns that Kemp’s support of “religious liberty” will tarnish the state’s pro-business reputation, often invoking the governor’s veto of such legislation. Trump’s visit was the apex of a gubernatorial race that has unfolded over the past two-plus years and brought multiple presidents and a parade of potential 2020 hopefuls to the state to campaign for Abrams, who is seeking to become the nation’s first black female governor. >> Read more trending news  Abrams has attracted a string of leading high-profile figures to campaign with her, including media icon Oprah Winfrey and former President Barack Obama in the closing stretch. As he closed, Kemp was eager to mention a list of big-name supporters that included Vice President Mike Pence and two Georgia football legends. “We’ve got Trump, Pence, Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker,” Kemp said, “to help us make a goal-line stop.”
  • Voting is your civic duty. But it’s also everyone else’s civic duty. And that leads to lines, especially during these 2018 midterms that have people across the country interested in Georgia. If you’re trying to zip in and zip out of a polling place, there’s nothing worse than a big ‘ol line. But Cobb County has a tool to show you the current wait times during these midterm elections. READ | Turnout soars on the first day of early voting in Georgia County data shows that 1,289 people voted in person in Cobb the first day of early voting, Monday, Oct. 15. Folks waited two hours in line that day at the county’s elections office in Marietta. For an easy look at which precincts are open when, all the times and dates for other early voting locations in Cobb can be found here. You can check out the map tool here that shows wait times. Like Cobb County News Now on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter
  • Growing up, Brian Kemp spent days working on a farm outside Athens. Getting trampled by a 750-pound bovine in the cattle chute didn’t faze young Kemp, recalls his friend Mitch Malcolm. And when a pregnant cow died one freezing Christmas Eve, Kemp and Malcolm labored in the sleet for hours to pull the calf. It survived. Kemp has held elected office for roughly 12 of the last 16 years but as he travels the state campaigning for governor, he is using those “everyman” credentials to win over voters. » RELATED: As she runs for governor, Stacey Abrams evokes her life story » GOVERNOR’S RACE: Where the candidates for governor stand on the issues “He understands the hardships of making payroll,” said Malcolm, who would go on to work as a developer with Kemp. “Work would start about 7 a.m. Brian’s the guy who’s going to be there at 5:30 in the morning.” “Nobody’s going to outwork Brian Kemp.” Casey Cagle learned that the hard way. Earlier this year, the lieutenant governor appeared to have the GOP nomination for governor in the bag. But with the help of a series of controversial ads — and an embarrassing covert recording of Cagle - the 54-year-old secured President Donald Trump’s endorsement and rode the latest anti-establishment wave to an upset win. Now Kemp, a married father of three daughters, meets Democrat Stacey Abrams in the Nov. 6 contest to succeed two-term Gov. Nathan Deal. Polls have shown that despite Georgia’s strongly conservative leanings, the race is tight. “We had to try to survive” On a recent bus tour around the state, Kemp focused on topics like combating gang violence, boosting teacher pay and rural hospital tax credits, and increasing school safety. Long gone are two stars of the primary season ads: Kemp’s gun collection and “Jake,” the fictitious suitor of one of Kemp’s daughters, who notes with a gulp that he has a “healthy respect for the Second Amendment.” Those ads — which showed Kemp brandishing a shotgun and bragging of using his pickup truck to round up “criminal illegals” — won Kemp scores of critics. But Trump supporters loved his embrace of the politically incorrect. “Yep, I just said that,” he says with a lopsided grin. During his recent stump speech (delivered from an actual stump) at Appalachian Gun, Pawn & Range in Jasper, Kemp told supporters “to get some gas in that chainsaw, get your axe and mattock out and keep choppin’ wood.” At a stop in Ellijay, the secretary of state mentioned firearms only after prompting from the crowd. “I started with a pickup truck, a shovel and a toolbox,” he said, laying out his small business bonafides. “Your gun, too!” a supporter interjected. “I had a gun in there, as well as a chainsaw,” Kemp said to applause. » ELECTION 2018: Inside the Georgia governor’s race » ABRAMS & KEMP ON: Spending | Education | Transportation | Social issues In fact, he had to save up a while for the chainsaw during the early days of his construction career, he said in an interview after one of his tour stops. “I built two spec houses and then I started another one, and I couldn’t sell any of them,” he said. “I almost didn’t make it through all of that. Marty and I were living in a house in a little subdivision. So I finally told her one day, look, if we’re gonna go broke we might as well change our luck, move in one of the spec houses and see if maybe that’ll help it sell.” The strategy worked, but it meant moving again after less than a month. Then again. And again. “We were trying to sell everything we had to try to survive,” Kemp said. Finally, they put down some roots. Wheels, actually. “I bought a demo double wide mobile home and set it up and told her, ‘We’ll just live here a year to see how we like it,’” Kemp said. “Three years later we were still there.” When their first child, Jarrett, now 19, was on the way, Marty Kemp told her husband: “You better start building me a house.’” “I know first-hand how hard it is to start a business,” he said. “Those first few years are rough. I was working, literally, seven days a week to pay the bank and pay my bills and survive.” “Work would start about 7 a.m. Brian’s the guy who’s going to be there at 5:30 in the morning. ... Nobody’s going to outwork Brian Kemp.” — Mitch Malcolm, friend of Kemp Kemp has done well since those early days. He’s amassed a net worth of more than $5 million, mostly through real estate investments, records show. But as his wealth has soared, some of his investments have gone sour. He is embroiled in a lawsuit over a loan he personally guaranteed for a now struggling agricultural business. Legal papers show he promised to cover about $10 million in loans for Hart AgStrong. Kemp is being sued by a Toccoa businessman who says he invested in the Bowersville-based canola processor at Kemp’s urging and was never paid back the $500,000 he’s owed. Kemp’s campaign has downplayed the significance of the suit, filed against him saying he was just one of several investors in the company. “He’s a rock” A fourth-generation University of Georgia graduate, Kemp would probably bleed red and black if you stuck him with a hatpin. Business and farming runs through his family tree more so than politics, with some notable exceptions. His grandfather, the late Julian H. Cox Sr., and father-in-law, the late Bob Argo, were Georgia legislators. His forebears include Revolutionary War Major John Habersham, a member of the board of trustees that established UGA, and Joseph Habersham (for whom Habersham County is named), who was Savannah’s mayor in the 1790s and George Washington’s appointed postmaster general. People who have known him the longest have two things in common. They pronounce his name with one syllable - Brine - and repeatedly use the word “solid.” “There’s no other friend I’ve ever had who’s as solid as Brian,” said Daniel Dooley, son of University of Georgia coaching legend Vince Dooley and brother of Derek Dooley, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Missouri. “Brian would go on vacations with us. He was like the other brother.” Coach Dooley was famous for getting the boys up and out at the crack of dark for fishing trips, then monitoring their progress until he deemed their haul sufficient. “When you fish with Dad he can take anything that’s supposed to be fun and turn it into a job,” the younger Dooley mused. Kemp didn’t mind the rigor. He and Daniel Dooley played football together for the acclaimed late Coach Billy Henderson at Clarke Central High School and lived together their final year at UGA, where Kemp majored in agriculture. “I had to get out of the group I was living with. I needed more structure,” Dooley said. “He was like Mother Hubbard.” » YOUR VOTE: How to find out if your voter registration is on hold » LATEST POLL: New survey shows a razor-thin race for governor After school, Kemp married Marty Argo and the two have been together for 24 years (Their other daughters are Lucy, 17, and Amy Porter, 16). His own parents divorced when he was 13. Kemp’s sister, 11 at the time, remembers her older brother helping her weather the transition. “We didn’t see our dad a lot,” Julie Kemp Rief said. Their mother and stepfather still live in Athens and their father, William L. Kemp II, who worked in real estate and finance, died in 2006. At the end, Rief said, “We weren’t that close but we were there. That was bittersweet.” Once again, she leaned on her brother. “Brian was always there. He’s a rock,” she said. “Family is first. When his three girls were all in high school they were all playing basketball. It didn’t matter if he was down in Tifton for the day. He would make sure he was going to be back home in Athens to make that basketball game.” A Political Awakening In Athens, Kemp quickly emerged as a civic leader. Doc Eldridge had just been elected a county commissioner when he learned that the Athens Rape Crisis Center’s building was a dilapidated wreck. Eldridge turned to someone he thought could get things moving: Kemp. “They showed up one Saturday with men and women, subs, trucks, materials,” said Eldridge of Kemp and his fellow Athens Area Home Builders members. “We brought that building up to code. It would not have happened so quickly had it not been for Brian Kemp and the home builders.” “He was reasonable, he would listen,” said Eldridge, who was elected as a Democrat and later switched to the Republican party. “I found him to be very level-headed and he would always follow though on what he told me he was going to do.” But as a home builder and developer, Kemp clashed repeatedly with county commission over zoning regulations, spurring an interest in politics. He launched a run for the state Senate seat, brashly challenging a Democratic incumbent at a time when that party ruled the state. The bet would pay off. Kemp was swept into office in 2002 as part of a GOP landslide in Georgia. In 2006 he ran unsuccessfully for state agriculture commissioner. He’s been secretary of state since 2010. Former Secretary of State Lewis Massey was Kemp’s Lambda Chi Alpha initiation advisor in college, and has a unique memento from their shared time there: a Bible signed by Kemp and his fellow pledges from the fall of 1982. “In grateful appreciation of his guidance and instruction of our lives through one of the most reflective and meaningful quests of our lives,” reads the inscription. “I distinctly remember Brian was a no-nonsense guy. He was serious and very committed,” said Massey, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1998. “At one of the chapter meetings, I remember Brian saying, ‘As a fraternity we’re either advancing forward or going backward.’ I remember thinking, as a college student, that was pretty insightful.” “I know first-hand how hard it is to start a business. Those first few years are rough. I was working, literally, seven days a week to pay the bank and pay my bills and survive.” — Brian Kemp Like Kemp, Massey became Georgia’s secretary of state initially by appointment; the late Zell Miller tapped him for the position after Max Cleland left to run for retiring Sam Nunn’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Former Gov. Sonny Perdue, now serving as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, appointed Kemp when Karen Handel stepped down to run for governor. She is now a congresswoman representing Georgia’s Sixth District. When Kemp was being considered for the post, he connected with his college-days advisor. “He’s the exact opposite of a know-it-all,” Massey said. “He’s a smart guy but knows that he needs advice along the way.” As secretary of state, Kemp is credited with implementing a new online voter registration system and mobile apps that helped hundreds of thousands of Georgians become new voters. But critics say he also launched voter fraud investigations as a way to suppress minority voting, a claim he rejects. Kemp was at the helm when a massive data breach released the Social Security numbers and other private information of more than 6 million voters to 12 organizations, including state political parties and news media. He blamed a clerical error, fired an IT staffer and offered credit monitoring. Additionally, The AJC has reported that he’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from the same people he regulates. That gives someone like Sasha Benefield pause. “I don’t think he’s representative of Georgia,” the 20-year-old political science major at Clayton State University said. “I also feel that he’s very aggressive and doesn’t reflect the need for expansion of Medicaid and the need to just overall help Georgia. I think it’s more of like ‘Hey, let’s help Georgia’s industries’ rather than ‘Let’s help Georgia’s people.’” Kemp and his supporters argue it is Abrams who is out of touch. While singer John Legend and rapper Yung Joc have lent their talents to Abrams’ campaign, Kemp has played up his rural roots. At the end of every campaign stop, he brings his daughter and bus driver in for comic relief. “How we doin’ on fuel?” Kemp would shout, prompting the dire deadpan that the rig was running on fumes. Cue Lucy Kemp, who gamely carried a plastic diesel can turned donation bucket as a prop. Kemp reminded every audience that while he was spending time in places like Rhine (population about 400), Abrams was fundraising in New York or San Francisco. “Let people know that we took the time to come to this community,” Kemp said. “We want Georgians to decide this election, not Nancy Pelosi. Not Elizabeth Warren. Not Maxine Waters.” Vivian Childs of Warner Robins came to Kemp’s Houston County stop and says she’s voting for him to keep Georgia on the path it’s on. “Georgia, to me, right now is winning. You never change the momentum when things are going in your favor,” she said.
  • Georgians across metro Atlanta went to the polls Tuesday to vote in a series of runoff races. These are races in which no candidate received a majority of the vote in the original May elections. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has compiled a review of the results of some of the top local races in the metro area. These results are not official. This list was compiled at 10 p.m. Tuesday. DeKalb County Board of Commissioners District 7 Lorraine Cochran-Johnson holds a 2-to-1 lead over incumbent Gregory Adams in the runoff for the Democratic primary in the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners District 7 race. With no Republicans in the race, the winner will capture the seat with a victory Tuesday. Superior Court Judge Latisha Dear-Jackson leads Tunde Akinyele all evening in a non-partisan race to replace retiring Superior Court Judge Dan Coursey. Coursey, who announced in January he would retire at the end of his term, is the longest-serving judge in the history of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit after 36 years on the bench. Gwinnett County Gwinnett County Superior Court Tracey Mason is far ahead of Veronica Cope with 68 percent of precincts reporting in the race to fill the seat of retiring Judge Tom Davis on the Gwinnett County Superior Court. Mason is a longtime local attorney and legal mediator and previously served as a Municipal Court judge in Duluth. Fulton Council Atlanta Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Kevin Farmer leads Fani Willis in the race for a seat on the Atlanta Superior Court. The winner will replace outgoing Judge Tom Campbell. Cobb County Cobb County Commissioner District 1 Republican Primary Keli Gambrill maintains a heavy lead over incumbent Bob Woodward in a runoff for the Republican primary in the Cobb County Commissioners District 1 race. Tuesday’s election determines the winner of the seat since there are no Democrats in the race. Smyrna City Council Ward 6 Tim Gould holds a significant lead over Idella Moore in a non-partisan race for a seat on the Smyrna City Council representing Ward 6. In other election news:

Local News

  • A 22-year-old University of Georgia student was shot during an armed robbery in Athens, according to police. Athens-Clarke County police say they were called to the shooting on South Milledge Avenue near the 10 Loop just after 7:15 a.m. Monday. Shortly after, they received another call about an armed robbery at the same location. We have a reporter and photographer on the scene where police plan to hold a news conference to release more information within the next hour. WATCH it LIVE on WSBTV.com and stay with Channel 2 Action News for LIVE reports as this story develops. Channel 2 Action News obtained an email to students, faculty and staff Monday morning, in which a school official said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Georgia State Patrol are assisting the Athens Clarke County Police Department in investigating the two armed robberies that happened just off campus. #Breaking Witnesses tell me the UGA student was shot at this off campus bus stop. They told me they heard two gunshots then ran outside and saw the victim. More at noon. — Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) April 22, 2019 TRENDING STORIES: ‘Armed and extremely dangerous': Police search for gunman who ambushed officer Church pays $120K to bail out first-time offenders for Easter ‘You told me to': Video shows Charlotte police officer kill man following orders to drop gun The student was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. 'We are deeply saddened by these tragic and shocking events,' the email said. Police are searching for a black male with dreads or twists driving an early 2000 model white Ford Mustang convertible with a tan roof.
  • There is a traffic heads up for drivers in Athens, a campus construction advisory from the University of Georgia: UGA says the southbound sidewalk and bike lane on the west side of East Campus Road will be closed from the current DEP2, Computer Services, and Museum of Natural History driveway entrance up to approximately mid-block for the temporary construction office entrance concrete pour. The sidewalk on the east side of East Campus Drive will still be accessible for pedestrians.
  • Senator Bill Cowsert and state Representatives Houston Gaines and Marcus Weidower are the scheduled speakers for tonight’s meeting of the Oconee County Republican Party. They’ll recap the legislative session that ended earlier this month in a 6:30 session at the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Watkinsville.  An Athens-Clarke County Commission work session is on tap for today, underway at 4 o’clock this afternoon at City Hall.  A town hall with Winterville Mayor Dodd Ferrelle is set for 7 o’clock tonight. It’ll take place at the Depot in Winterville.  Madison County Commissioners meet tonight: it’s a 6 o’clock this evening at the Madison County Government Complex in Danielsville. Jackson County Commissioners meet at 6 at the courthouse in Jefferson. 
  • A man was killed by an Athens-Clarke County officer after authorities said he brandished a shotgun at police while they were trying to talk to him.  Carlton Steve Brooks, 63, was shot and killed after he answered his door with a shotgun in his hands, authorities said. Athens police called the GBI to investigate the incident. Athens-Clarke police said the fatal police shooting happened about 11:40 p.m. Saturday. Officers were sent to a home on Hull Road on a “peeping Tom” call, the department said in statement. Officers spoke to the victim, who identified a suspect, the department said. The officers went to the suspect’s home, which was also on Hull Road, police said.  According to the GBI, officers knocked on the Brooks’ door and announced themselves. Before answering the door, one of the officers saw a man inside with a weapon, the GBI said. The officers moved back from the door and gave repeated commands to put down the weapon. That’s when Brooks opened the door with the gun in his hands. “Brooks pointed the weapon towards one of the officers, who then fired twice,” the GBI said.  According to the police department, officers administered first aid to the man, and he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. No officers were harmed in the shooting.  The department said the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave with pay in “accordance with department policy.”  An autopsy will be conducted at the GBI Crime Lab.  This is the 29th officer-involved shooting investigation that the GBI has been requested to investigate in 2019. The last such investigation was opened April 15, when a police chase that started in Alabama ended near Fort Benning.  RELATED: Man shot by deputies after Alabama police chase ends near Fort Benning In other news: 
  • Officials with the National Weather Service have confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down early Friday morning.  The tornado formed in Hall County around 5:50 a.m. and was on the ground for an estimated 2.5 miles.  Channel 2's Richard Elliot was in Hall County Friday, where the storm ripped a steeple off Dewberry Baptist Church north of Gainesville and sent a tree crashing through the church's fellowship hall.  No injuries were reported. Storms left damage across north Georgia including downed trees and power lines, flooding and washed out roads.  Reporters from Channel 2 Action News fanned out all across the state to bring you live coverage of the worst-hit areas.  Road collapses in multiple spots, following storms. We’re live in Buckhead: Ch. 2, 6 p.m. pic.twitter.com/5hhEV5u10O — Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) April 20, 2019 RELATED LINKS: Download the FREE Severe Weather Team 2 App! Massive oak tree falls on box truck, trapping driver inside 4 Forsyth County firefighters injured during storm response Flooding leaves at least a dozen vehicles underwater at car dealership PHOTOS: Severe weather knocks down trees, washes out roads in metro Atlanta    

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Stetson Bennett began G-Day with the Black Team on Saturday, but he ended it with the Red Team. In his mind, that meant he was going to have steak and lobster for dinner rather than the Beanie Weanies that go to the losing team. “I’m getting steak,” Bennett said after the 22-17 Red Team win this past Saturday. “I get to choose what I want. I made that rule; nobody has told me that for sure yet. But I’m definitely planning on having steak tonight.” J.J. Holloman turned this reception of a pass from Stetson Bennett into a 43-yard game-winning touchdown for the Red Team in the fourth quarter of the G-Day Game on Saturday. (Lauren Tolbert/UGA Athletics) Bennett could certainly make a good argument for eating with the victorious Red squad. After all, it was his 43-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Holloman with 8:09 remaining in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner. The scoring play, which came on a post route by Holloman against starting cornerback Eric Stokes on second-and-8, gave the Red a 19-17 lead that would hold up the rest of the way. It came at the end of what was a pretty good day for Bennett, who exited spring practice as the Bulldogs’ No. 2 quarterback behind junior Jake Fromm. For the day, he went 12-of-23 passing for 210 yards and a touchdown while playing for both teams. That broke down as 4-of-9 for 82 yards with no TDs or interceptions with the Black squad and 8-of-14 for 128 yards and a score with the Red team. Bennett was charged with one sack for minus-5 yards with the Black as well. “It was pretty special,” said Bennett, who transferred back to Georgia after spending last season at Jones County (Miss.) Junior College. “I’ll probably look back over the summer and appreciate it more. This was my second game in Sanford Stadium and it was a little bit better than the first one. It was pretty cool.” It represented a much better day under much better circumstances than Bennett experienced during the 2018 G-Day Game. Bennett also played for both squads that day but left feeling like he wasn’t given a fair shake to compete with Justin Fields for backup duties behind Fromm. Fields has, of course, since transferred to Ohio State. Now Bennett is competing with true freshman D’Wan Mathis for the backup spot. “I felt more like a quarterback today than just piece like I did last year,” said bennett, who was a combined 5-of-9 for 73 yards for both squads in the 2018 G-Day Game. “I felt good coming out here and playing with my buddies and playing well, having them make plays. It was pretty cool I enjoyed it.” Mathis had a decent Saturday as well. Operating with a pared-down offensive package, the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Mathis was 15-of-28 for 113 yards throwing the ball and had a 20-yard run off a scramble. But he was also sacked five times and threw an interception. Fromm was disappointed with a day that saw him complete only 14-of-29 passes for 116 yards and throw a pick-6 on the Red Team’s first offensive possession. He threw got one 13-yard touchdown on a check-down throw to running back Brian Herrien in the third quarter. Overall, it was only a so-so day for quarterbacks and the Georgia offense. But nobody is expecting the outcome to affect the depth chart going forward. The Bulldogs will enter fall camp with the same pecking order it started spring camp. That is, with a depth chart the sets up as Fromm, Bennett and Mathis, in that order. “Both those guys did a nice job of managing it,” coach Kirby Smart said of Bennett and Mathis. “A lot of throwing situations, not a lot of (elaborate) defenses. … We scaled back a lot of the offense. A lot of the new things we’re doing weren’t in that package today. But I was pleased with the way Stetson and D’Wan managed the game and that’s important for their growth. They’re only going to get better through practicing and repping and playing in that kind of environment.” Bennett certainly came away feeling a lot more positive about his situation than he did this time a year ago. He said he knows he’s not about to unseat Fromm as the starter and that there is no guarantee that he’ll even be the primary backup ahead of Mathis by the time the season starts on Aug. 31. “I don’t really know,” he said of his role this season. “My goal is for us to win a national championship, win the SEC, win the East, beat Vandy up there in Nashville in the first game of the season. Just to win, play really well and play Georgia football, play for these fans who came out here today, 52,000 of them in not great weather. That’s really my goal for the season, just be the best I can be.” Bennett’s situation could be entirely different. After his season in junior college, he received multiple offers from non-Power 5 schools who offered him the opportunity to become a first-year starter. But playing football at Georgia always has been priority one for Bennett, who grew up in Blackshear as the son of a alumni parents. “Somebody asked me, ‘why’d you come back if you’re going to have all these 5-stars ahead of you?’ I’ll answer it the same way: I don’t really worry about who else is coming in,” Bennett said. “I don’t really worry about who’s here. If I can just do my part for the team and get better every single day, then I’m fine with it. So, you know, I’m just going to compete every day with myself and try to make the best throws at practice and we’ll see how it works out.” But no matter how you slice it up, it’s a better situation than Bennett had when he decided to transfer to junior college last summer. “I’m not going to transfer this summer; I’m not going to show up in the portal, so that’s different,” Bennett said with a laugh. “It was better. I got more reps this spring, played better, my team won, because I flip-flopped and was on the Red Team at the end.” The post WATCH: Role on team still undefined, QB Stetson Bennett in it for long haul Bulldogs appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Football is a game that’s amazing when shown live, and sometimes even more fascinating on replay. The cuts, catches and collisions that “wow” us in the moment are most often just as impressive — if not more so — in slow motion. The so-called “broken” plays can’t be explained in the moment, but film review tells all as Kirby Smart and his coaching staff could attest. The @UGAAthletics Twitter account put out a highlight reel from the G-Day Game that will excite Georgia fans who saw those plays for the first time — and inform those who were with family or on business and couldn’t watch the game. It’s worth the click, as several new faces and numbers appear on the verge of starring roles with the Bulldogs’ national championship contending 2019 team. It’s an impressive collection of Eric Stokes’ Pick-6, D’Andre Swift’s electric cut on soggy turf, Brian Herrien’s bulldozer run past J.R. Reed and the surprisingly effective passes from backup quarterbacks Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis.   Couldn’t make it to #GDay? We’ve got you covered with the highlights. #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/hRCrxsekpP — Georgia Bulldogs (@UGAAthletics) April 22, 2019   Georgia football DawgNation G-Day Game Kirby comments on freshmen phenom linebackers Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith WATCH: Brian Herrien looks strong in G-Day Game WATCH: Matt Landers discusses his G-Day performance WATCH: Georgia G-Day Game beat writers breakdown RELATED: Eric Stokes experiences good and bad at cornerback WATCH: Kirby Smart shares thoughts on G-Day Game Georgia football lands major commitment on G-Day Demetris Robertson illness revealed by Kirby Smart Stock report from Georgia G-Day Game Instant analysis of Georgia football G-Day Game Georgia G-Day Game football report card   The post WATCH: ‘Wow’ plays abound in Georgia athletics G-Day Game highlight video appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia hasn’t wasted any time testing freshmen early enrollee linebackers Nakobe Dean and Nolan Smith. The trend continued on Saturday in the G-Day Game, with Dean and Smith getting repetitions with the Black Team, which featured the first-team defense.. Coach Kirby Smart said it had to do with how repetitions were distributed. But it also provided the coaching staff with a look at how Dean and Smith would fare in reps against the first string offense of the Red Team. Dean proved active, making five tackles with a pass break-up against the first-team offense. Dean is an instinctive inside linebacker with great acceleration to the football, and he appeared surprisingly comfortable and agile in pass coverage. Senior Tae Crowder and junior Monty Rice exit spring drills with the upper hand at inside linebackers, both tested veterans. But Smart left the door open for Dean to continue to compete for a starting position. “His role could be as much as a starting linebacker, or his role could be as much a special teams player this year, he could be at third down guy,” Smart said when asked by DawgNation about Dean’s role moving forward. “It’s going to be determined by the other players and himself, and how much he grows and gets better.” Smith’s day was considerably quieter. The No. 1-ranked recruit in the 2019 signing class was often matched with Outland Trophy candidate Andrew Thomas. Still, it was worth noting how Smart and other UGA players praised Smith throughout much of spring drills. The UGA coaching staff talked Smith up to the SEC Network commentators during the G-Day Game broadcast prep. “Nolan Smith is a highly touted recruit, a guy who came up in a lot in our conversions with coaches,” former UGA lineman and College Football Hall of Fame 2018 inductee Matt Stinchcomb said. “He’s a guy who can bend the edge, but his work ethic was what really impressed.” Smart said both Dean and Smith have had a great “progression” this spring. “They are both very bright, they are both very sharp, intelligent, mature freshmen,” Smart said. “But they have not been through a college football fall, they have not been through a college football game. “They haven’t played in an SEC game, and they both have a lot of growing to do. But I’m pleased with where they are.” Georgia football DawgNation G-Day Game WATCH: Brian Herrien looks strong in G-Day Game WATCH: Matt Landers discusses his G-Day performance WATCH: Georgia G-Day Game beat writers breakdown RELATED: Eric Stokes experiences good and bad at cornerback WATCH: Kirby Smart shares thoughts on G-Day Game Georgia football lands major commitment on G-Day Demetris Robertson illness revealed by Kirby Smart Stock report from Georgia G-Day Game Instant analysis of Georgia football G-Day Game Georgia G-Day Game football report card   The post Georgia G-Day Game: Nakobe Dean active inside, Nolan Smith bottled up outside appeared first on DawgNation.