Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appoints businessman Fitz Johnson to fill a vacancy on the state civil service commission.

Kemp announced Wednesday that it would hire Johnson, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for the Cobb County Commission last year, to fill a vacancy on the commission created when Kemp named Commissioner Chuck Eaton to one on Tuesday Fulton County Supreme Court vacancy.

The commission regulates private, for-profit utility companies including Georgia Power Co. and Atlanta Gas Light Co., which means its decisions affect the wallets of millions of Georgians.

Johnson is the former owner of the Atlanta Beat women’s soccer team and a retired officer. He also ran unsuccessfully for superintendent of the state school in 2014. Johnson was a trustee of the Cobb-based Wellstar Health System and the Kennesaw State University Foundation, and a commissioner for state charter schools.

The commissioners are elected nationwide but must reside in specific districts. Johnson would represent the 3rd District, which includes Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, and Rockdale counties. Johnson was living in the Vinings area of ​​Cobb County when he ran for commission, but it was not immediately clear Wednesday where Johnson now lives. Neither the governor’s office nor Johnson responded to requests for comment early Wednesday.

According to state law, a public service officer must have lived in the district he represents for at least one year before he can be elected. It also states that a commissioner “must remain in that district during the person’s term or that post becomes vacant”. However, the law does not regulate the residence requirements before an appointment.

Eaton’s third six-year term runs until 2024, but Johnson would have to run for the remainder of the term in 2022 if he is to stay on the commission.

Johnson could vote on critical decisions about the two new reactors being built at Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear power plant near Augusta. The $ 26 billion work is years behind schedule and billions over budget. The commissioners must decide how much Georgia Power can bill the fee payers and on what schedule.

“With his diverse backgrounds and field credentials, I know Fitz will work hard every day to ensure Georgia remains the leading state for business and the best place to live, work and raise a family,” said Kemp.

Johnson would be the only current African American member of the commission. One lawsuit questions whether the election of commissioners across the country discriminates against blacks. The district of Eaton would be highly democratic if only the voters in its four counties voted for the commissioner.

Eaton has been named to replace Shawn Ellen LaGrua as Fulton County’s Supreme Court Justice. Kemp appealed La Grua to the state’s Supreme Court in January. Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said Tuesday the court will determine when Eaton will be sworn in.

Eaton had served his third term as chairman of the commission.

Like many low-ticket Republicans, Eaton narrowly won re-election in 2018 and was forced into a runoff election with Democrat Lindy Miller before beating her by about 50,000 votes, a margin of 52% versus 48%.

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