By Dave Williams and Maria Saporta
The Buckhead Coalition welcomed Buckhead’s newest resident, Gov. Brian Kemp, Wednesday to keynote the group’s 30th annual meeting.
“Thirty years of good work is a major accomplishment … a great success story,” Kemp told an audience of high-profile political and business leaders at the 103 West Restaurant.
The new governor, now in his third week in office, repeated highlights of his budget recommendations to the General Assembly, including funds for a teacher pay raise, school security grants, Georgia’s need-based REACH Scholarship program and a planned expansion of the state’s accountability courts.
Kemp vowed to work closely with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who also addressed Wednesday’s luncheon, recalling his meeting with the mayor at Atlanta City Hall two weeks ago.
“I don’t know why people were so shocked,” Kemp said, referring to his willingness to breach protocol as a governor by traveling to meet with a mayor, even though it was only one block. “It’s the same thing I did when I got sworn in as secretary of state.”
After his speech, the Republican governor was asked to comment on news that his Democratic opponent in last year’s campaign, Stacey Abrams, has been selected to give her party’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address next week.
“I’m not worried about what Stacey Abrams is doing,” he said.
Kemp also put in a pitch for the state’s Georgia Grown Program, a followup to First Lady Marty Kemp’s announcement last week that the Governor’s Mansion will be serving Georgia-grown food products as often as possible.
“[Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture] Gary Black is doing a great job with the Georgia Grown Program,” the governor said. “I’m going to work with him to make that international.”
Dave Williams covers state and local government for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.