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So welcome to day seven of 2020. Indeed, it already is the roaring ‘20s and that has nothing to do with what’s happening on the world stage right now.
Why is it roaring so soon in the new year? Here’s a snapshot:
POLITICS: The race no one saw coming – for the seat in Congress now held by Tom Graves – is becoming one of the top three contests to watch this year. If all holds as announced, the Republican primary in May will be its own television show – or is that YouTube channel these days?
We’ve got two declared candidates and a Rome-centric candidate will join the race this week. And that’s not ruling out another potential Rome candidate who has yet to decide.
We bumped into the guy we hoped would enter the race at Home Depot on Saturday and he was ever gracious and ever cautious about his political future. For now, he’s got more important duties around the house. But he’s certainly a name to keep in mind for that other House in Washington. Maybe a generous reapportionment following this year’s Census will change his mind.
Regardless, we will have an absolute horse race for Congress this year, perhaps the most contested one we’ve seen since Phil Gingrey’s first win in 2002.
We said top three races so you’re probably wondering about the other two. For sure, the Floyd County Republican sheriff’s primary and maybe one or both of the county commission seats or the budding clerk of court’s race.
Remember, qualifying isn’t until March so we have some more fantasy politicking to do. And that is a favorite sport in this town.
RESTAURANTS: Another tip we picked up on on a different Saturday at Home Depot has panned out. The inside skinny on who would take over the former Johnny’s New York Style Pizza location on Broad Street was dead on.
Our source had said Eric Tant would be the new proprietor even though there was talk of some Atlanta investors being involved. They may be but what we do know is that this town is excited about what the great chef known as Eric Tant might bring to Broad Street. The announcement late Friday lit up Hometown Headlines both that afternoon and Saturday – and even into Monday morning.
Tant has plans that he’s yet to announce but he surely knows all eyes are on him. We like the idea because we had the pleasure of working with him at a high school graduation party a few years ago. We’d never had better barbecue or mac-and-cheese. And this was for a party of several hundred people – including hungry high school grads.
Whatever Tant does with 233 will bring a new vibe to the 200 block of Broad Street.
RIVER DISTRICT: The whole story about the Star building at Fifth Avenue near Bale Street is an eye-opener. We admit to never quite knowing what happened inside those walls; from what we know now, there was a lot of good coming in and out of those doors.
The concept of selling that location as the River District comes to new life is perfect. There are ton of options brewing on North Fifth, West Third and Avenue A. We know of a few more smaller changes on the way as well but we’re thinking more about big picture.
One bit of advice we have for both the “incumbent” businesses in the River District and the newcomers: Form your own business group. That’s not a slam against the Downtown Development Authority or the Business Improvement District but it is something property and business owners need to discuss now as they move forward.
The River District offers a new take on all things downtown and there already are some huge success stories there. An independent group – maybe retaining Downtown Development Authority ties for promotions and grants and all – will make better decisions without being weighed down by what’s happening across the river. The potential is just too big and you’re going to be facing some Broad Street first push back. This community can and will support to such districts.
ROARING OR BORING?: One of the biggest stories of the new year is set for Jan. 13. That’s when the City Commission gets three new (OK, one returning but after a long break) members. The impact of these new folks will be immediate as a mayor is elected (or a city commission chairman as one colleague continues to point out).
We expect two names to be prominent in the commission-only election and we shudder to think of a third name getting the title by default as a consensus candidate. These first moves by the “new” city commission will set a tone first heard from city voters. Here’s hoping they do the right thing. The time for change in city government is here.