Candidates for District 1 speak at Thursday forum

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009 9:33 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 10:43 PM
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Everything you ever wanted to know about what candidates for the District 1 seat on the Augusta Commission thought about crime, blight, race relations and the TEE Center you could have heard at a political forum Thursday.

Candidates Matt Aitken, JoRae Jenkins, Butch Palmer and William Fennoy answered questions on those and many other topics for almost two hours during the Harrisburg-West End Neighborhood Association meeting at the Kroc Center.

Mr. Aitken, Ms. Jenkins and Mr. Fennoy emphasized the importance of bringing the district together and economic development, while Mr. Palmer harped on the need for a chronic nuisance property ordinance that would clean up Harrisburg and the rest of the city.

“I’d like to grow old in Augusta and walk the streets without getting my throat cut,” Mr. Palmer said. “But the way things are going, I’m not sure I’ll be able to.”

Ms. Jenkins’ plan for dealing with crime throughout the city includes more training for police officers, more neighborhood watches and more neighborhood meetings. Mr. Palmer, however, said when crime gets as bad as it is in Harrisburg, the drug dealers and prostitutes “are” the neighborhood watch.

Mr. Fennoy said his approach to crime prevention is education, starting early.

“We’ve got to educate and instill in them morals and values,” he said.

More police visibility is also important, he said.

Mr. Aitken said he’s been involved in prison ministry since he himself came out of prison 20 years ago and knows a great deal about the problem.

“Somewhere, as a city we’ve got to unite,” he said. “We’re not united now.”

All agreed abandoned and dilapidated houses are a major problem, but each had a different solution.

Mr. Palmer said property owners should be given incentives for fixing up their homes. Enforcing city ordinances already on the books is the key, said Mr. Fennoy, while Mr. Aitken said building revenues with economic development is the answer. Ms. Jenkins said working with non-profit organizations and a big effort to clean up Augusta would help.

As for improving race relations, Mr. Palmer said race relations would have to be improved by the people involved. Mr. Fennoy said he doesn’t think Augusta has a race relations problem, except when the five black commissioners don’t vote the way some people want them to. Mr. Aitken said when government leaders start leading and when pastors come together, people will come together. And Ms. Jenkins said there needs to be more literature on diversity, more ethnic festivals and more diversity training in the schools and city government.

Asked whether they would be willing to allow the public to vote again on the TEE Center since costs have risen so much since it was approved, Mr. Fennoy said the voters have already voted and that it was up to commissioners to decide when and where it should be built.

Mr. Aitken said “absolutely not.”

“Leadership should have already have that thing out of the ground,” Mr. Aitken said.

Mr. Palmer said it absolutely should be put on a referendum before the special interests shove it on through.

Ms. Jenkins said no on a second vote and suggested a town hall meeting to let the people see how the project has changed over time.

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Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 10/08/09 - 10:30 pm
0
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If any citizen of Augusta

If any citizen of Augusta were buying something in a store for $1,000.00 and by the time they got to the check out counter the price had doubled to $2,000.00, we certainly believe they would deserve another opportunity to decide if they still would like to make their purchase. However, 3/4 of those running for office in district one simply believe since we voted for something years ago, we shouldn't have a second opinion or say even though the price is now through the roof. We don't need more elected officials who could care less what WE THE PEOPLE think.

The Big O
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The Big O 10/08/09 - 11:11 pm
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If Mr. Fennoy doesn't think

If Mr. Fennoy doesn't think there is a race problem in Augusta then he is quite ignorant.

stovall st
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stovall st 10/09/09 - 06:11 am
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Mr. Fennoy is out of touch,

Mr. Fennoy is out of touch, If he don't believe augusta has a race relation problem. Sorry Mr. Fennoy, You just failed the test.

stovall st
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stovall st 10/09/09 - 06:24 am
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OK Mr Aitken. All we need to

OK Mr Aitken. All we need to do is have a few festivals. That will fix things right up. GET REAL.

stovall st
0
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stovall st 10/09/09 - 06:35 am
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MR. PALMER, Welcome to the

MR. PALMER, Welcome to the augusta commission.

CorporalGripweed
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CorporalGripweed 10/09/09 - 08:34 am
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It will take generations, Mr.

It will take generations, Mr. Fennoy, to educate, and instill values in the young to counteract crime. We do not have that much time to wait. Crime is out of control.

concernednative
28
Points
concernednative 10/09/09 - 08:35 am
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corporal, well said. I mean

corporal, well said. I mean education is important. But, crime is happening everyday now what do we do about that now. My main problem with Palmer is he is pushing people out of Harrisburg into other neighborhoods that just shifts the problem. I would like to see more a platform on overall crime reduction and keeping criminals locked up.

Harrisburg Homeowner
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Harrisburg Homeowner 10/09/09 - 11:03 am
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Concerned Native, you talk as

Concerned Native, you talk as though the Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance would be just for Harrisburg. This ordinance would benefit all of Richmond County. People might be temporarily shifted but after being expelled out of several neighborhoods over their shoddy behavior, maybe they will get the message and clean up their act.

hopefulforaugusta
0
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hopefulforaugusta 10/10/09 - 05:38 am
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Ms. Jenkins is already being

Ms. Jenkins is already being fined by the State Ethics commission for turning in late paperwork, what a way to get started. I am trying to get the word out to my Harrisburg residents, do not vote for Ms. Jenkins, she is only trying to get her foot in the door of politics, and does not care about any of us. Her lack of experience and education will throw us under the bus. None of us know the real Ms. Jenkins because she is not a true representation of District 1, if she lives there now, she must have just moved there, but I have been speaking and listening to people that really know her, and the main comment is to stay clear away, bad news. It takes more than just talk to be a good leader.

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