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News about: elections, politicians and candidates at all levels of government: elections, congress, state executive officials, state legislatures, recall elections, ballot measures and school boards. You can find a full list of projects here.

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Obama announces U.S. aid for Ebola outbreak

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President Barack Obama addressed the nation about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on September 16, 2014.
By Phil Heidenreich

Atlanta, Georgia: President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 3,000 military personnel and requested $500 million in aid to West African countries for the containment of the most deadly Ebola virus outbreak in history.[1][2]

In addition to the military aid, the president promised an "air bridge," of open transportation between the affected area and the United States through which supplies could be sent to West Africa.[3] The administration also planned the building of 17 100-bed hospitals to be used to treat more patients, training of 500 more West African medical care professionals per week as well as providing local African populations basic health kits.[4] The $500 million was requested from the Overseas Contingency Operation meaning Congress has the ability to object but does not need to pass legislation approving the funding.[2]

A map of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as of September 13, 2014
Only two American citizens have been infected by the Ebola virus while serving with religious organizations in Africa. Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly were flown back to the U.S. under quarantine and treated for the virus, both surviving.[5] Dr. Brantly then testified before Congress regarding the disease, conditions in Africa and the need for action. He also stated his desire to return to help those still infected, "Lord willing."[6]

In March 2014, medical experts announced an outbreak of the virus in Guinea, which killed 78 people between January and April 2014.[7] In the following months, the virus spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia in what the World Health Organization (WHO) described could result in more than 20,000 deaths.[8][9] By June 2014, the outbreak had become the deadliest Ebola outbreak on record. By the end of August 2014, the outbreak had spread to Nigeria and Senegal.[10] Numerous African countries have shut down borders and halted international travel as a precaution against the virus.[11]


Arkansas school board challengers unseat three incumbents

By Margaret Koenig

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While only a few races were contested in the Tuesday elections for seven of the largest Arkansas school districts, those races did not end well for most incumbents. In the five contested races, only two incumbents were able to retain their seats.

Incumbent Willie Cowgur defeated Kirsten Johnston in the race for Zone 4 of Bentonville School District's Board of Education. Zone 5 incumbent Lisa Clark, however, was unseated by former board member Travis Riggs. Neither of the Little Rock School District Board of Education incumbents retained their seats. Joy C. Springer unseated first-term Zone 1 incumbent Norma Jean Johnson, while Zone 5 incumbent Jody Carreiro lost to Jim Ross. Springdale Public Schools Zone 3 incumbent Kathy McFetridge easily defeated her challenger Henry Pudder Hudson, and the district's millage rate continuation question was approved by a large margin.[12]

The remaining majority of candidates were elected without opposition with three incumbents and three newcomers in uncontested races. Rogers School District held an uncontentious election. Amy Horn was elected without opposition to the Zone 4 seat on the board, and a millage question to continue the district's current millage rate was approved.[13] Similarly in Conway Public Schools, Wesley "Trip" Leach and Scott Champlin won their first terms on the board without opposition to the Zone 4 and 5 seats, respectively.

Cabot Public School District Board of Education Position 1 incumbent Corey Williams retained his seat for a second consecutive term without opposition. Jeannie Cole and Deanie Mehl were both re-elected to the Fort Smith Public Schools Board of Education. Cole retained the Zone 3 seat, and Mehl retained her at-large seat.


Midterm Election Countdown: "Firsts"

By Brittany Clingen

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The November 2014 general election is poised to be one of notable "firsts," particularly for minority groups. Women, African-Americans, Muslims, transgender people and openly gay men and women are all represented on 2014 ballots and could achieve significant victories if elected. Now it's up to voters to decide whether history will be made on November 4.


U.S. Senate holds D.C. statehood hearing

By Phil Heidenreich

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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, DC) pleading the case for statehood on the House floor on April 10, 2014

Washington, D.C.: For the first time in 21 years, the U.S. Senate recently held a committee hearing about the possibility of statehood for most of Washington, D.C.

As a district, Washington's congressional delegation of one House member, has no power to vote on legislation. Congress has the ability to overrule any law passed by district lawmakers and set its budget and district residents pay federal taxes.[14][15] While advocates of statehood were happy to get a hearing, expectations were tempered with only one committee member, Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) attending the entire hearing.[14] Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the committee's ranking Republican was present at the start of the hearing but left in just over half an hour.[15]

The hearing was held on September 15 by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and attended by a standing-room-only crowd that overflowed out of the room.

Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and Mayor Vincent Gray (D) headlined the event, pointing out that the city of 645,000 people paid $4 billion in federal taxes in 2013 and claiming that the people of Washington were being "denied" their basic rights.[15][14]

The proposed bill would separate the city of Washington from federal sites such as the Capitol Building, White House and other monuments and installations, which would remain federal land keeping the name, District of Columbia, and the rest of the city would be the 51st state, New Columbia. The change would also be likely to add two Democratic senators and one Democratic representative.[15]

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In addition to the missing committee members, many of whom were tending to their home districts, Sen. Coburn pointed out that President Barack Obama also failed to send a representative to the hearing. When asked about the idea of statehood for the city in 2013, the president said, "I'm for it." Coburn claimed the hearing was a political ploy on a day that few would attend and during a time that few outside Washington would care about the issue considering that 2014 congressional elections are just around the corner.[15]

The last time a bill was introduced in an effort to provide statehood to D.C. was 1993. The closest the district ever came to achieving it was in 1963, when 16 states ratified a constitutional amendment.[16] Nineteen Democratic senators signed onto the bill.[15]


The Tuesday Count: California will remain one state as “Six Californias” fails signature count

Edited by Ryan Byrne

0 certifications
148 measures for 2014



Six Californias (News)
Education (Quick hits)
Minimum Wage (Spotlight)

You won’t be able to live in a state named after a mineral used in microchips or one named after our third president. Silicon Valley and Jefferson would have been two of the six states called for by Timothy Draper’s "Six Californias" Initiative. The initiative failed to make the ballot following the California Secretary of State's random signature count, which revealed a low number of valid signatures. As a result, Californians will not be voting on partitioning their state in 2016, unless supporters jumpstart a new initiative.[17] Across the Atlantic Ocean, the United Kingdom is facing an even more radical partition proposal. The Scots, who have been part of the United Kingdom since 1707, will be voting on a Scotland Independence Referendum on September 18, 2014.[18]

Meanwhile, the question of public funding of private education is heating up in Hawaii. A battle line is being drawn, with private preschools pushing for the amendment and the state's largest teacher's union calling for a "no" vote.[19] Two of California's most expensive initiatives are starting to sink in the polls. This could just be a bump in the road, or opposition campaigns could be effectively targeting and convincing voters that the initiatives are flawed.[20]

Following the passage of a $15 per hour minimum wage law in Seattle, 15 Now activists want to take their proposal across Lake Washington to Bellevue. According to The Seattle Times, Bellevue is more "conservative" and "business-friendly" than Seattle. The new geography may come with a tougher fight for 15 Now.[21] Other supporters of a $15 minimum wage have started collecting signatures to place an initiative on the ballot in Los Angeles, as well.[22]

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References

  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named thehill300
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Hill, "White House to request $500M to fight Ebola," September 16, 2014
  3. The Hill, "Obama at CDC warns Ebola outbreak ‘spiraling out of control’," September 16, 2014
  4. The Guardian, "Obama to announce Ebola force of 3,000 US military personnel," September 16, 2014
  5. WJLA, "Nancy Writebol and Kent Brantly, U.S. aid workers with Ebola, released from Atlanta hospital," August 21, 2014
  6. L.A. Times, "Ebola survivor Kent Brantly hopes to return to Africa, 'Lord willing'," September 17, 2014
  7. The Guardian, "Guinea's Ebola outbreak: what is the virus and what's being done?," April 1, 2014
  8. The Guardian, "First Ebola case in Senegal confirmed," August 29, 2014
  9. The Guardian, "Ebola cases in west Africa could rise to 20,000 says WHO," August 28, 2014
  10. The Washington Post, "Tracing the rise of Ebola in West Africa," September 16, 2014
  11. The Guardian, "West Africa in quarantine: Ebola, closed borders and travel bans," August 22, 2014
  12. Washington County, "SUMMARY REPORT: Annual School Election Unofficial Results," accessed September 16, 2014
  13. Benton County, "Election Results," accessed September 16, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 New York Times, "District of Columbia Officials Push for Statehood at a Senate Committee Hearing," September 15, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 The Washington Post, "Congress takes up bill to make D.C. the 51st state," September 15, 2014
  16. WJLA, "D.C. statehood hearing by Congressional committee unlikely to spur change," September 15, 2014
  17. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named nosix
  18. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named scotland
  19. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named hawaii
  20. San Jose Mercury News, "Poll: Dim prospects for Prop. 46 medical malpractice measure," September 11, 2014
  21. The Seattle Times, "Bellevue latest target of push for $15 minimum wage," September 10, 2014
  22. CBS Los Angeles, "Ballot Initiative Hiking Minimum Wage To $15 To Begin Collecting Signatures," September 10, 2014