It is 11 am on a Tuesday morning as Marietta City Councilman Griffin “Grif” Chalfant walks into Waffle House. He orders his morning coffee and then looks out the window at the sunny day outside. Chalfant has been a local politician for more than 15 years, and in that time has represented the local housing and water authorities as well.
While the nation’s government prepares to shift as new presidential and local leaders are elected, Chalfant wonders what impact this change will have on his home.
Chalfant said that his initial reaction to the results of the 2020 was one of dissatisfaction but understanding. Though he did approve of President Trump’s economic policies and stern handling of trade relations, he understood why many felt that Trump was disrespectful. Chalfant said that he wished Trump had focused more on following through with his governmental strategies than being petty towards his opposition.
“He could have carried on with more [plans] that he wanted to do instead of alienating so many people,” Chalfant said.
There are others on the Marietta City Government who have stronger opinions. City Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson said that her reaction to the election results was that of relief and bewilderment. Richardson felt that Trump represented an egocentric attitude for our country and was glad to see Biden elected. She was also surprised at the number of people who feel that the election was a farce. Richardson said that unless there is substantial evidence, that people need to just let that go. She believes that it was Trump’s insults and disregard towards the feelings of others that are the real reason for the result.
“[Trump] is not the person that you want your children to look up to and say, ‘That’s my President,’” said Richardson. “He treasured money over people.”
Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin was initially surprised at the sheer size of the Democratic turnout. He said that he was stunned by how many people who do not typically vote in elections decided to cast their ballot this year.
His reaction turned to acceptance however, once he realized that the Democratic party had done an excellent job of being inclusive to all sorts of voters.
“I underestimated how powerful the numbers for the Democratic party were in the suburban areas,” Tumlin said. “The suburban areas have gone from red to blue also.”
All members of the Marietta government agreed that the Georgia Senate runoff will dictate much of what will happen over the next four years. Chalfant, Richardson and Tumlin said that if the Senate has a Republican majority, things will largely stay the same. If there is a Democratic majority however, this would allow the Biden administration to make many changes. Chalfant and Tumlin believe that having a balance of power between the two parties is vital for democracy. Chalfant wanted a Republican majority. Tumlin was more impartial, being satisfied with a 50/50 split. Richardson however, is frustrated by the idea of the government getting stale. She wants big changes.
“If the two candidates [in Georgia] don’t go blue, then we are going to have four years of nothing getting done,” Richardson said.
Each of the Marietta officials has specific issues that they hope to see addressed by the newly elected administration.
Richardson says that she wants to shore up programs catering to the homeless. She said that due to the approaching end of the eviction moratorium in January, which makes it much harder to evict tenants from their housing if they are behind in payments, that homelessness will drastically increase.
“There are people who are trying,” said Richardson. “I know some people who are taking advantage of the moratorium. But for the people who truly are working and who cannot pay their rent or take care of their families, to be evicted in January would be horrible.”
Chalfant has another issue he considers vital. He hopes the United States continues to be self-sufficient and proceeds with pulling away from depending on oil from the Middle East as a power supply.
Chalfant believes that solar, nuclear, and electric power energy sources are superior to oil. He said energy independence is a policy that he applauds the Trump administration for supporting. Products like electric cars and nuclear-powered heaters could be used to benefit the global environment, he said.
Georgia Power is in the process of putting the Plant Vogtle nuclear power plant online.
Chalfant said that nuclear energy will make the US more independently powered, markedly benefiting the economy and the environment. He hopes that the Biden administration sees the advantages too.
“Fissionable material lasts for a long time,” Chalfant said. “They are also coming up with other ways to use that material to power other things. They are taking what was left over and using that to run other [projects]. It’s interesting stuff.”
Mayor Tumlin was adamant in his belief that more localized control is better for the communities. While he acknowledged the importance of the Federal Government having a system of broad guidelines that are applicable to all, he said that each community is different. He said that it is easier to make accommodations and laws for a group of people when you understand their circumstances personally. He hopes that the new administration will grant more control to state and city governments.
“Local control is the acknowledgement that one size does not fit all,” Tumlin said. “I would like the [national] legislature to stay at the 40,000 foot level and let us deal with the foot on the ground [issues]… in our particular community. “
Tumlin said that local governments in highly populated areas took a lot of heat during the previous four years. He said that a moderately sized community such as Marietta is difficult enough to handle for the municipal administration, and when the population size becomes astronomically high, the number of issues to cover becomes nigh overwhelming. Tumlin hopes to see less criticism and more support for civic government in densely populated areas in the future.
“Big cities have big challenges,” Tumlin said. “We’ve got to support our large cities.
Chalfant, Richardson and Tumlin all have high hopes for the next four-year term.
Chalfant said that we will see more freedom of the press, and that the current stranglehold that corporations have over the news is simply unacceptable.
Tumlin anticipates that the justice system will be a bit more forgiving to certain criminal offenses.
Richardson expects there to be a move away from large brick and mortar stores and businesses, to make way for more online focused methods of trade. She also looks forward to a more unified, team-focused mentality from the nation as a whole.
“If we come out a better country after four years of being less divided, I will be happy with whatever Biden has managed to accomplish,” Richardson said.
Sam Sinclair is a journalism major at Kennesaw State University. He was a Staff Writer for 3 years on the KSU Sentinel newspaper and is a Shift Supervisor at CVS pharmacy. In his free time, Sam enjoys gaming and reading.