New faces, incumbents vie for seats in North Augusta

NORTH AUGUSTA --- Tuesday's Republican primary for three open North Augusta city council seats will likely determine the winners.


It's a low-profile race among the electorate, especially in an off-election year, but there are a few new faces among three longtime council members.

Incumbents Carolyn Baggott, Ken McDowell and Jimmy Adams face first-year law student Joe Pippen and former Public Safety Chief Lee Wetherington.

The last time Baggott, McDowell and Adams were up for election, in 2008, only 858 of the 11,000 registered voters participated in the at-large election. The top three vote-getters win the three open seats. With no Democrats filed, the top three Republicans will likely fill the seats. Write-in candidates can file petitions through Thursday, however.

John M. Younginer Jr., the chairman of North Augusta's municipal election commission, said low turnout is typical in city elections.

During their time going door-to-door in communities, candidates have said they're surprised at how many voters don't even know the incumbents' names or faces.

McDowell said it's a concern for him.

"I'm happy with the city's direction in the last five to 10 years," he said, "but small turnout for an election concerns me. Constituents have to realize they have a vested interest in how their government's run."

Wetherington and Pippen said that they weren't unhappy with the city's direction but that they would like to see new blood on the council, especially to tackle issues such as budgetary constraints and streamlining development.

Voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Riverview Park in North Augusta.

The general election will be in April.

Joe Pippen

AGE: 28

FAMILY: Parents Stephen and Donna Pippen; two brothers

OCCUPATION: Student, University of South Carolina Law School

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree from University of Michigan

POLITICAL BACKGROUND: Ran as a write-in candidate for city council in 2007

 Lee Wetherington

AGE: 60

FAMILY: Wife Joyce

OCCUPATION: Security manager, University Hospital; manager Sportsman's BBQ

EDUCATION: Associate degree University of South Carolina; bachelor's degree Brenau University

POLITICAL BACKGROUND: Retired public safety director

 Jimmy Adams

AGE: 70

FAMILY: Wife Kathy; one son and one daughter

OCCUPATION: Retired banker with First Union Bank

EDUCATION: Augusta State University, bachelor's degree

POLITICAL BACKGROUND : City of North Augusta councilman since November 2001

Ken McDowell

AGE: 56

FAMILY: Wife Donna; one son and daughter-in-law

OCCUPATION: Director of environment, health, safety and security at Halocarbon Products Corp.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, Auburn University

POLITICAL BACKGROUND: North Augusta City Council member for 10 years

 Carolyn Baggott

AGE: 67

FAMILY: Husband Jim; two sons and two daughters-in-law


EDUCATION: Bolen Business College

POLITICAL BACKGROUND: North Augusta City Council member since 1991

Jimmy Adams

Age: 70

Family: Wife Kathy; son Jay; daughter Amy; two granddaughters

Occupation: Retired banker with First Union Bank (now Wells Fargo Bank)

Education: North Augusta Public Schools, Augusta State University, bachelor's degree in business administration

Political background: City of North Augusta councilman since November 2001

The candidates

North Augusta voters can vote for the Republican primary Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Riverview Park.