Tell commissioners what you think

The lack of civility on this Augusta Commission was underscored Aug. 6, when three members’ discontent with the city attorney boiled beyond what the group could tolerate.

Statements hurled in open session such as “lost all confidence,” “confusion and lack of trust” and “complete, abject failure” prompted some members to apologize to General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie for their colleagues’ insults.

The call for better Commission decorum continued Monday, when members talked about the need to improve the panel’s public image for the good of the city. So we asked commissioners and are asking the public: What should the Augusta Commission do to foster civility and improve its image?

 

Mary Davis

District 3

Took office:  2013

“The commission needs to treat city employees and fellow commissioners with respect and communicate one-on-one with that person if there is a specific concern. I would like to see leadership/diversity training implemented in our quarterly retreats.”

 

Bill Fennoy

District 1

Took office: 2013

“The first thing we could do is start respecting each other and not take things personally; the projects that we support or don’t support, don’t take that personally. I think that we could start being more respectful of department heads and other leaders in the community that come before the commission. A lot of the issues that we have about items would have already been addressed if we have more participation in the committee process.”

 

Wayne Guilfoyle

District 8

Took office: 2011

“If people are serious about doing good for Augusta-Richmond County, it takes eight to do it, but we need to completely change our charter. Reduce that commission from 10 to seven and you’ll see the commission turn around. We’re up there to set policy; we’re not there to micromanage our directors. We have commissioners with too much power and directors having to come up there with minutiae.”

 

Joe Jackson

District 6

Took office: 2007

“It goes back to respect. You’re only one of 10 and you never at any time disrespect another human being while on the floor or in public. It’s political, not biblical. We all have constituents we need to serve because that’s what we got into, public service, but just because it doesn’t go your way doesn’t mean you have to take it out on your colleagues or staff.”

 

Corey Johnson (Mayor Pro Tem)

District 2

Took office: 2008

“In my opinion, I believe communicating with one another more than just committee and commission meetings... helps you build trust outside of the commission chambers. If you don’t understand a person and their way of thinking or their concerns for their constituents, then you will tend to be in opposition to their concerns. So building relationships out side of business is extremely important.”

 

Bill Lockett

District 5

Took office: 2010

“More communication among commissioners. That’s it. This process began on Aug. 26 when we discussed it in administrative services. Day after day, meeting after meeting we’re going to be progressively better. As a result of more communication, there’s going to be more trust. With the trust, we’re going to be like a governing body. This process began on this past Monday.”

 

Alvin Mason

District 4

Took office: 2008

“Attack the issue, not the individual. Respect the opinions of others even if you disagree. Try and find some common ground on which you can agree and build from there. Be cognizant of the tone of voice in which you speak. In other words, it’s not what a person says that becomes the problem, it is the tone in which they say it.”

 

Donnie Smith

District 7

Took office: 2013

“I think we ought to articulate issues being discussed in a professional manner and not in an emotional manner. It leads to personal attacks and personal disrespect. We’re talking about an issue; we’re not talking about Commissioner A versus Commissioner B. We need to treat our Augusta-Richmond County staff with respect, because they work on behalf of the citizens of Augusta-Richmond County and the commission. ...We’re working on behalf of 200,000, so we ought to remember that we shouldn’t be posturing for control, working on behalf of special interests, or posturing for future office.”

 

Grady Smith

Super District 10

Took office: 2011

“I firmly believe in the thing called mutual respect, and once you believe that, everything else falls in line. By now we should all be adults; we should be the leaders in the community, and how we act sitting up there with the public looking at us - I’m ashamed of a lot of what goes on. When the yelling begins, the reasoning ends.”

 

Marion Williams

Super District 9

Took office: 2013

“The group, the commission gets along fine. We laugh, we joke, we eat dinner together. The difference is when you’ve got different constituents and your constituents’ needs are not being met, versus someone else’s are being met, you might separate yourself for a minute to get the people who voted for (you) what they need. We’re not as divided as people think.”

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If you go

The Augusta Commission will meet Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Lee Beard Commission Chamber in Augusta Municipal Building, 530 Greene St. Meetings are streamed live online at augustaga.gov.

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