Aitken, Fennoy move into runoff in District 1

Campaign season isn't over yet.

The race for the District 1 Augusta Commission seat will be decided in a Dec. 1 runoff between Matt Aitken and Bill Fennoy.

Mr. Aitken, a compressor building operator for Olin Corp., bucked conventional wisdom and finished first in a district that's 65 percent black and hasn't had a white representative since city-county consolidation.

District 1 was first represented by Lee Beard, then by his widow, Betty Beard, who decided not to seek another term.

With 2,309 votes cast, Mr. Aitken received 928 votes for 40.19 percent.

Mr. Fennoy, a part-time intake officer for the Department of Juvenile Justice, retired educator for the Richmond County Health Department and former member of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority, received 748 votes for 32.39 percent.

Harrisburg activist and landlord Butch Palmer came in third with 430 votes, or 18.62 percent, and event planner JoRae Jenkins placed last with 202 votes for 8.75 percent.

Mr. Aitken said the credibility he has built up in the community since his release from prison for drug charges in 1990 -- such as his prison ministry, his inner-city outreach work with Agape Ministries and his work for the Martin Luther King Observance Committee -- made the difference.

"Whether they believe in me or not, they respect what I've done," Mr. Aitken said. "I've been an underdog all my life, and I continue to overcome obstacles."

Ralph Walker, a political science professor at Augusta State University, said what also made a difference was Mr. Aitken's lead in fundraising. He collected $13,130 to Mr. Fennoy's $10,913, Mr. Palmer's $6,000 and Ms. Jenkins' $2,450.

"He had by far the most advertising out there, and it paid off," Dr. Walker said.

Mr. Fennoy said he had hoped to win without a runoff, and he didn't expect to come in second place.

"Between now and Dec. 1," he said, "I'm going to focus on getting people out to vote, getting my agenda out to the people and let the chips fall where they are."

He said he'll also reach out to Mr. Palmer and Ms. Jenkins, asking for their support.

Ms. Jenkins said late Tuesday that she'll throw her support behind Mr. Fennoy. Asked why, she handed the phone to her campaign manager and wouldn't comment further.

Also before passing the phone to someone else, Mr. Palmer wouldn't say whether he'll throw his support behind another candidate.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

District 1 CommissionAitkenFennoyJenkinsPalmer
101 Asbury United Methodist Church, 1305 Troupe St.1837976
102 Crawford Avenue Baptist Church, 507 Crawford Ave.53211582
103 Dyess Park, 902 James Brown Blvd.13167342
104 Eastview Recreation Center, 644 Aiken St.712684710
105 Second Mount Moriah Church, 1404 Brown St.55041
106 Julian Smith Casino, 2200 Broad St.29131450
107 Julian Smith Casino, 2200 Broad St.3366816110
108 Covenant Presbyterian Church, 3131 Walton Way154284
109 May Park, 708 Fourth St.3321410
110 Peabody Apartments, 1452 Walton Way16151610
111 Paine College Gilbert- Lambuth Chapel, 1235 Druid Park Ave.5014729
112 St. John's Towers, 724 Greene St.8524934
113 May Park, 708 Fourth St.39381912
TOTALS928 (40%)748 (32%)202 (9%)430 (19%)

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