Local government activist John Clarke said he’s swapping places with businessman David Dunagan to pursue the Super District 10 seat on the Augusta Commission.
The seat, held by the term-limited Commissioner Grady Smith, is one of five plus that of the mayor to be decided in May elections, though few besides incumbents have openly expressed interest in any of them.
Clarke, an administrator for the Augusta Political Watch group on Facebook, said “some things happened” over the last few weeks that changed his mind about running for office, including the way commission meetings are being conducted.
“We need to put more emphasis on bringing Augusta together and fixing what is broken and the spending,” he said, “to put our best foot forward and be accountable and responsible to the public.”
Clarke, who is retired from sales and lives in District 7, has been a regular at Augusta Commission and other meetings for about 18 months. If elected, Clarke said he’ll “represent the citizens of Augusta but no special interest groups.”
Dunagan, who filed a recent complaint with the Georgia Attorney General about Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority violatingopen meetings laws to discuss placing an arena at the blighted Regency Mall , said he’ll now postpone his plan to seek a commission seat.
“Neither one of us wanted to run against each other,” Dunagan said of Clarke and himself. “I will remain active behind the scenes until Mary’s spot becomes available,” referring to Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis’ District 3 commission seat. Her term ends in two years.
Smith, whose term ends Dec. 31, said he’ll serve through the end of his term and gave the candidate swap his blessing.
“David said he’s going to step aside because John’s older,” Smith said. “I told (Clarke) to run not just for District 10 but for the entire city.”
Super District 10 covers commission districts 3, 6, 7 and 8.
As of Tuesday, no one besides incumbents had any record of a campaign on file for the mayor or commission seats with the Richmond County Board of Elections, officials said.
Augusta has six seats being decided – the mayor’s (Hardie Davis), commission Districts 2 (Dennis Williams), 4 (Sammie Sias), 6 (Ben Hasan), 8 (Wayne Guilfoyle) and Super District 10 (Smith) – in May elections, which are scheduled the same date as state party primaries.
Only Smith and Guilfoyle are at the end of Augusta’s two-consecutive-term limit.
Former Commissioner Moses Todd, who previously announced a run against Sias, said recently he has decided against it.