State Rep. Scott Holcomb’s future political plans and “green” energy are two issues almost certain to come up at the Democratic Party of Bulloch County’s 2013 Independence Gala.
The 7 p.m. July 27 event in the Russell Union Ballroom at Georgia Southern University does not offer a world-famous speaker like Andrew Young, who highlighted the 2012 gala. But Holcomb, D-Atlanta, chief deputy whip of the Democratic Caucus in the Georgia House and often mentioned as a possible candidate for statewide office, will give the keynote remarks. Another speaker is slated to bring word of a new effort to focus attention on environmental concerns.
“The event promises to be a good opportunity for people in Bulloch County to find out about an up-and-coming politician who everyone believes is going to be running in a statewide race in the not too distant future,” said Bill Herring, the chairman of the Bulloch County Democrats.
First elected to the Legislature in 2010, Holcomb hails from northern DeKalb County and represents District 81. Herring said there is “strong talk among the Democratic Party about him running either for the U.S. Senate or for governor.”
Herring also called Holcomb a strong advocate for immigration reform. They met earlier this year at a forum in Macon on immigration.
A lawyer who now has his own firm, Holcomb previously served in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps as a prosecutor and international law attorney. He served with the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart from 1998 to 2001 and deployed to Bosnia. Assigned to Fort McPherson from 2001-2003, Holcomb advised generals on the laws of war during ground operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He serves on the Military Legal Assistance Committee of the State Bar of Georgia and is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. His wife, Kathleen, is originally from Reidsville.
Local attorney Susan Cox is slated to introduce Holcomb at the Independence Gala.
Claudia Collier, an organizer of Greening Georgia, the environmental advocacy group being formed within the Democratic Party of Georgia, is also scheduled to speak. She lives in Effingham County, which she represents on the Georgia Democratic State Committee.
For the past two years, Collier and Bob Ingram from Glynn County have led the effort to create what was originally proposed as an environmental caucus. Advocacy groups are a new idea within the state party, but members at a meeting in February approved allowing them by an overwhelming majority, Collier said.
She expects to chair the new group, but this has not been formally decided. Final executive committee action to authorize Greening Georgia has been delayed by the lack of a settled state party chairmanship, Collier said. Former state Democratic Chair Mike Berlon resigned in early June after the State Supreme Court reprimanded him over the handling of a case in his private law practice, and a new party leader has yet to be elected.
So at this point, Collier said she can’t speak for all potential Greening Georgia members.
“But my personal goal for this group is to educate and advocate first other Democrats, and to do that I have to link environmental issues, green issues and clean energy issues with every other goal of the Democratic Party,” Collier said.
Beyond that, the group will seek to advocate with Democratic legislators, and other lawmakers who will listen, for action on these issues, she added.
One issue Collier intends to address is whether Georgia Power Co. should be required to buy more solar-generated electricity. She and her husband have solar panels on the roof of their home. Like other Georgians, they can receive some money back from the power company for adding electricity to the grid.
The Public Service Commission voted Thursday to order Georgia Power to increase its solar capacity by 525 megawatts by the end of 2016. Of this, 425 megawatts will come from “utility scale” producers and 100 megawatts from small-scale projects like those in residential and commercial settings, Atlanta Business Chronicle reported.
Collier would like to see the state expand the solar mandate further or repeal the Territorial Act, a 1973 Georgia law that — by authorizing exclusive territories for power companies — prohibits new solar companies from selling electricity directly to consumers.
“Right now the only choice is to mandate what Georgia Power provides in order for us to increase solar or overturn the Territorial Act,” Collier said.
Tickets for the gala sell for $30 each. They will be available at the door, or from Alvie Coes, the local party treasurer and master of ceremonies for the gala, at (229) 869-3743.