Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias has drawn opposition from a fellow neighborhood association activist for the District 4 commission seat.
Hephzibah resident Betty C. Reece filed a notice of her intent to accept campaign contributions in a recent filing with the Richmond County Board of Elections.
Reece, who retired from medical imaging, heads the Richmond County Neighborhood Association Alliance and is currently president of the League of Women Voters of the CSRA. She’ll take a leave of absence to run for commission.
“There’s only been three other commissioners in the last 20 years that have been women,” Reece said. “I know I can make a difference. I can be transparent, be honest and make a difference in economic development, especially in south Augusta.”
Since consolidation in 1996, Augusta has had just three female commissioners on the 10-member commission: Barbara Sims, Betty Beard and the current mayor pro tem, Mary Davis.
Sias founded the Sand Ridge Neighborhood Association and is a former president of the Richmond County Neighborhood Association Alliance, which has served as a stepping stone for other Augusta political candidates including the Rev. Melvin Ivey and Rep. Gloria Frazier, D-Hephzibah.
Sias has occasionally sparred with fellow commissioners and Mayor Hardie Davis but also has forged alliances with other Augusta political leaders, many of whom attend his monthly breakfasts at the Jamestown Community Center in Sand Ridge. He serves as treasurer for State Court Judge Kellie Kenner-McIntyre’s campaign.
“He’s brought a lot of ideas to the table. He’s passionate about the community,” Commissioner Sean Frantom said.
Sias’ activities at the city-owned community center have drawn criticism from fellow commissioners, including Marion Williams, who said he’ll work to help Reece win.
“I’m sure going to help this lady as much as I can,” Williams said.
Former county and Augusta commissioner Moses Todd, who withdrew a bid last year to run for the District 4 seat, said Sias’ promotion of Augusta’s new stormwater fee, and his involvement at the city-owned center, reflect poorly on him.
“As a sitting Augusta commissioner, he runs it like it’s his own political club,” Todd said.
Asked to respond, Sias said Todd could say what he wanted.
“Mr. Todd can say whatever he likes, as is his First Amendment right,” Sias said.
Neither candidate had reported any fundraising in filings due last week. Sias’ last filing was a 2015 affidavit swearing he did not intend to receive or spend more than $2,500 in campaign funds.