Incumbents win endorsements

Committee takes vote on hopefuls
Deke Copenhaver



Incumbent Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who received the Richmond County Committee for Good Government's endorsement with just four votes more than challenger Lori Davis on Tuesday, said he was happy to get the nod.

Davis, president of the Harrisburg-West End Neighborhood Association, said she was very happy.

Copenhaver got 50 votes to Davis' 46.

"She campaigned hard with the group, and I'll take the endorsement and move forward," he said.

Mayoral candidate William "Gil" Gilyard, who received only 10 votes, wasn't so happy, but then he hadn't expected to be endorsed, he said.

"They do what they usually do," Gilyard said.

District 2 incumbent Corey Johnson was endorsed with 90 votes, compared with challenger Marion Williams' 10 votes, a victory Johnson attributed to the committee members' recognition of the work he's done on the commission the past three years.

"We're not put there just to sit and identify the problem," he said, an obvious reference to Williams, a former District 2 commissioner. "We're put there to solve the problem."

Williams said he knew he'd be on the losing end of Tuesday's vote because the committee had never endorsed him.

"But their endorsement don't mean a thing to my district," he said. "The people understand what I do and why I do it. They understand the wealth is not shared in our district like it should be. Millions of dollars are spent, and commissioners are bragging about how short the meetings are."

Incumbent commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason, who was endorsed with 70 votes to Bernard Harper's 10 and Sammy Sias' 24, said he was "humbled and grateful" committee members saw the progress that has been made on the Augusta Commission during his tenure.

Harper said he didn't have much to say except that the vote that counts is the one on Nov. 2.

Sias said he expected the committee to endorse Mason because they've endorsed him twice before.

The District 8 endorsement went to independent insurance agent Doug Lively, with 50 votes. In second place was tile company owner Wayne Guilfoyle with 37 votes, followed by 13 votes for former Blythe Mayor Tom Cobb. South Augusta Sentinel Publisher Alan Tanner got three votes.

Businessman Grady Smith, who received the District 10 endorsement with 63 votes to Sean Frantom's 37 votes and Robert Ingham's six votes, did not return a phone call.

Incumbent Richmond County School Board member Eloise Curtis said she was very pleased with getting the endorsement with 39 votes, especially with three men running against her.

On the contrary, Willie "Bill" Law said he was not happy with 18 votes.

"They endorsed all the incumbents," he said. "If they're happy with the progress they're making downtown and on the board of education. ... I'm not happy. That's why I'm running."

Charlie Hannah said he was pleased to get 30 votes since he was going up against an incumbent who'd been on the board 12 years.

Melvin Ford did not return a phone call.

Incumbent District 6 board member Jack Padgett, who received 63 votes to challenger Taylor Bryant's 40, likewise said he was pleased, while Bryant said the results "were to be expected."

"Those people don't really know me," he said. "They probably don't trust me."

District 9 school board incumbent Venus Cain, who received the committee's endorsement with 59 votes to challenger Shirley Darby's 41 votes, did not return a phone call. Darby, however, said she was "a little hurt" by the vote.

"I thought sure I would be endorsed," she said. "Those folks often have their minds made up, and they often go for incumbents. But you've got to put on your boots and keep on marching."



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