Pupils ask mayor about economy, unemployment

Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver speaks to Episcopal Day School students during lunch at Fat Man's Riverfront Cafe.

Augusta's mayor is accustomed to fielding tough questions, but on Wednesday those tough questions came from youngsters still years away from voting.


Considering declining property values and a corresponding decline in tax revenue, what city services will be affected by budget cuts? Thirteen-year-old Herrington Murray wanted to know.

And what about this stimulus package, she asked Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Herrington was among a group of 11 pupils from Episcopal Day School who had lunch with Mr. Copenhaver. They had won a contest at school in which they submitted short essays about what they would ask the mayor if given the chance.

Mr. Copenhaver said Richmond County isn't exempt from the nation's economic woes, but property values have held fairly steady, lessening the effect on the city's finances.

As for the stimulus, that's one word the mayor is tired of hearing.

"I'll be glad when I stop hearing that term, and I'll be glad when I stop hearing about the 'octomom,' " Mr. Copenhaver quipped.

The mayor wasn't surprised by the seriousness of the questions. In his time in office, he has spoken to many schools, including six last week.

Pupils today have a greater social consciousness than he did at the same age, he said.

Kennedy McKnight, 11, said she has been thinking a lot about the economy and about jobs. That's why she asked the mayor about his efforts to create jobs in Augusta.

Mr. Copenhaver said he hopes his visits with children will inspire one of them to be mayor one day.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.