State Rep. Michael Harden (R-Toccoa) has penned what we think is the first op-ed piece generated by a member of the GOP caucus, calling for an election to anoint a successor to House Speaker Glenn Richardson.
We know of others in the works. Here’s what Harden wrote:
By now, every Georgian knows that Speaker Glenn Richardson has resigned due to a truckload of personal problems. While I am glad he resigned, I also sincerely hope that he obtains the help he needs and finds peace in the years to come.
Now that this chapter is almost closed, it is time for the Georgia House of Representatives to move on and get back to the business of this state. Unemployment has surged across the state, especially in rural areas, impacting countless Georgia families. State revenues continue to decline damaging everything from public safety to public education. It is long past time we got back to doing what the people elected us to do.
However, we cannot truly move on and begin a fresh start until a new Speaker is fully and fairly elected by the entire House. We must have an election to truly close this chapter and move forward as a legislative body, and that election should happen before the General Assembly Session begins.
The process has worked as the Constitution intends. The Speaker Pro-Tempore will assume the duties of the office temporarily and has 120 days to call an election. However, the calendar undermines what the House needs to do to move past this episode.
Because Speaker Richardson is not officially resigning until January 1, the temporary Speaker could serve through the Session without calling for an election. The House would only have a temporary leader, not a fully respected one. This situation is not acceptable to me or to a significant number of my colleagues.
The longer we wait to hold a real election, the longer this drama will continue and the more damage it will do to the House and to our state.
With all the budget and policy challenges in these difficult times, Georgia needs a Speaker of the House with the full, unquestioned support of the House of Representatives.
Waiting until the end of the Session, or worse, having an election in the middle of a Session, only hinders the House’s ability to pass meaningful legislation and from an “inside baseball” perspective makes the House weaker in its negotiations with the other branches of state government.
We have nothing to fear from open, transparent, and honest government. Let us clear the air and start fresh by electing a Speaker with a clear mandate to lead.
Please do not misunderstand my purpose here. I am not opposed to our current leadership. If fact, I personally like them and voted for them. I would very seriously consider Mark Burkhalter or Jerry Keen if they offered themselves for Speaker. They are strong and capable leaders.
However, a temporary Speaker hurts the House and hurts our ability to govern effectively. There is not a legitimate reason to delay an election. The House can hold an election the first week in January or on the first day of the Session very easily. Then, and only then, will this chapter finally be closed and the House and the state it serves can finally move forward.
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