Copenhaver again

Mayor glad his work is appreciated



After Mayor Deke Copenhaver made his victory speech Tuesday night, his supporters began to chant: "Deke for president! Deke for president!"

Sounding a presidential note, the mayor said he'd wanted a mandate, and got one, even though he told his backers to give their money to charity rather than to him.

"When I see that $3 billion was committed to political campaign TV ads nationwide this year in this economy, 99 percent of which were negative ads, that's staggering to me," he said. "We've done it the right way with a positive campaign, not raising that kind of money."

As the crowd continued chanting, "Deke! Deke! Deke!," Brad Usry and others celebrating at the Polka Dot Pig Gastropub in Surrey Center hugged the mayor and each other.

Copenhaver wore the same gray plaid sport jacket he had worn at his two other victory parties. He said he is superstitious.

Earlier, he said he had visited 13 poll sites during the day and hoped people realize the hard work he has done the past five years. Apparently they did.

Augusta businessman David Steele said he is definitely a Copenhaver supporter, as is his daughter, Rebecca.

"I love the fact that Deke is a conciliator," he said. "He works to bring people together. He doesn't practice the politics of polarization. He has the best interests of all the people at heart."

Attorney Joe Neal Jr. agreed.

"I pretty much have known him forever, we've always been friends. He's got great leadership style. I think he's the best mayor we've had since we consolidated."

Outside the Gastropub, one of the attractions was an SUV with white shoe polish messages on it aimed at mayoral candidate Lori Davis, who campaigned for a crackdown on drug houses.

"Tell Lori Davis we have a great sheriff already. Go home."

By that time, the crowd was thinning out at Davis' house.

She acknowledged she didn't have much of a chance from the beginning, going against an incumbent. Copenhaver had the name recognition. Besides, she didn't raise much money, she said.

"I knew what I was up against. I'm not naïve," she said.

But she said she felt comfortable with the donations she received and that she doesn't feel like she owes any favors or that she is indebted to anyone.

Her next step is to pursue a change in Georgia law to hold "bad landlords" accountable for nuisance properties, she said.

Asked whether she plans to run again now that she has name recognition, Davis replied, "Who knows at this point?"

Even before all the votes were counted, many of Gil Gilyard's supporters had gone home.

About 15 lingered at the candidate's house, watching the national election results and talking politics. Gilyard was slightly ahead of Davis but a far stretch from Copenhaver.

"OK, two precincts left," he said. "That's not going to make much of a difference."

Staff Writers Kyle Martin and Tracey McManus contributed to this story.