Andrew Jefferson and Kelby Walker present a different picture of how they will serve Augusta Commission District 5 if elected.
The pair face off on the May 24 nonpartisan ballot to succeed Commissioner Bill Lockett, who is term-limited.
District 5 spans parts of west and southwest Augusta, including the Augusta Mall and Regency Mall areas. It encompasses neighborhoods along North Leg and Bobby Jones Expressway, east of Deans Bridge Road and west of Barton Chapel to areas around Meadowbrook Drive and Cross Creek.
Jefferson, a recently retired Augusta Technical College department head who owns a small electrical contracting business, is the married father of two grown sons.
Jefferson, 56, served three terms on the Richmond County Board of Education, from 1992 to 2004, during most of which he was either board president or vice president or chairman of the board’s building committee.
“I was always an advocate for fair play, making sure that people got their just due,” Jefferson said of his time on the board.
Jefferson said he didn’t use his position to an advantage. He noted the dismissal of a lawsuit from former mayoral candidate Lori Myles, who alleged among other things that the board unfairly promoted his wife, Patricia, during his tenure.
When it comes to awarding city contracts, Jefferson said he would like to see minority and small local businesses get jobs valued at $5,000 or less without having to bid, as seen in state contracts.
Jefferson said he would likely follow the lead of Lockett, the commission’s biggest traveler to conventions and educational conferences, with a major distinction.
“I would give a report on what the topics were and what I got out of it,” he said.
Jefferson will graduate from Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree’s Citizens’ Police Academy on May 17, and he has been endorsed by the CSRA Police Benevolent Association, the Augusta Professional Firefighters Association and the Builders Association of Metro Augusta.
He’s outraised Walker and reported $15,125 in donations as of March 31, including a $6,500 loan to himself and a $2,000 in-kind donation from Billboard Guru owner Stuart Rayburn for sign space at Daniel Field.
Jefferson also reported $3,700 in spending with Rayburn, who lost an Augusta Public Transit advertising bid in 2011 for a similar donation to current vendor and Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas, who is fighting misconduct allegations in the coastal city.
Walker’s $1,450 in contributions include a $1,000 in-kind donation of sign space from Steve Weatherington and smaller gifts from former state Sen. Charles Walker and former commission candidate Brandon Dial.
Walker, a father of six, said “being busy” is all he’s ever known. Court records show a handful of brushes with Child Support Recovery, but Walker said he’s busy with a home commercial fragrant business, Aroma Ice, and plans to open a downtown business, Sweets on Broad, on May 21.
Walker, 42, and Jefferson agreed that the way Augusta implemented the new stormwater fee was flawed, and Walker said he was routinely getting questions about the fee as he goes door to door.
Walker said the district – even in the Wrightsboro Road retail corridor – hadn’t seen the new business it should for at least the past three commission terms.
Under the past two commissioners, Deans Bridge Road “has pretty much gone downhill,” Walker said. “When no one is pushing them to do a job, they’re not going to do it.”
A final distinction lies in Walker’s experience with law enforcement. He believes he’s been profiled twice and both times was mistaken for someone else and nearly arrested – officers asked him to remove his shirt and, more recently, drew their guns on him, he said.
“I’m pro-law-enforcement – I think to a certain degree Richard Roundtree has done an awesome job, but that one incident could have been fatal,” he said.
The other incident happened when Ronnie Strength was sheriff, Walker said.