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District 1 candidates asked to meet, debate

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The tone of the District 1 Augusta Commission race has turned overtly negative, Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason said in a news conference Tuesday, and it's time for both candidates to come together -- publicly, at a forum or debate -- and show voters they're willing to work for all of them regardless of race.

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Aitken  Special
Special
Aitken

The city "can't afford to have this government turned back into a circus," he said.

"As the mayor pro tem of Augusta-Richmond County, I appeal to candidates Matt Aitken and William Fennoy," Mr. Mason said, reading from a prepared statement. "One of you will be commissioner-elect for all the people that reside in District 1 on the night of Dec. 1, 2009 ... This district and this city deserve to know that you will represent and take into account the interests of all the residents, regardless of skin color."

Mr. Mason called on the candidates to come together in a mutually agreed-on format Monday.

Thus far, Mr. Aitken has declined invitations to attend events with Mr. Fennoy present, saying the issues were hashed out exhaustively in forums before the Nov. 3 election and that such events wouldn't be productive because of the racial tone of the campaign.

"District 1 needs to hear and question where you both stand today before a vote is cast next Tuesday," Mr. Mason said.

Mr. Aitken said he wishes Mr. Mason would have talked to him before making his statement. He said he is not changing his mind about joint appearances.

"We'll just let the voters decide who's going to step into this seat," he said. "We're running our campaign. We'll run it the best way we know how, and we'll continue doing that."

Mr. Fennoy said he's willing to have a representative of his campaign meet with a representative of Mr. Aitken's campaign and come to an agreement on the time, location, format and moderator for a public debate.

"I have never had a problem meeting anyone anytime," Mr. Fennoy said. "I have always shown up at any event when I've been invited, and that hasn't changed."

Last week, Mr. Fennoy appeared at forums at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Lucy Craft Laney Museum; Mr. Aitken was invited to both but declined. Mr. Fennoy also attended a Summerville Neighborhood Association meeting at the Partridge Inn, which Mr. Aitken backed out of after learning Mr. Fennoy would be present.

Mr. Mason said he didn't call the news conference to criticize either candidate.

He referenced Monday's news conference by a group calling itself a "collective body representing every aspect of the black community," which criticized Mr. Aitken for skipping debates held by black organizations and said the commission's 5-5 racial balance needs to be preserved.

"At a press conference yesterday, it was mentioned that this may be the most important election since consolidation," Mr. Mason said. "I'm inclined to agree with that statement. What I don't agree with, though, is that there is any collective body that represents all black people or any collective body that represents all white people.

"As to the 5-5 racial balance of the commission, the charter does not mandate a racial outcome, but the lines were drawn so that if people came out in great enough numbers and voted, then there could be a balance on this commission.

"So to me, the message should be to encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote, and each candidate get proactive in energizing the voters to come out and decide how you want your commission to act, look and think on your behalf."

Mr. Fennoy said he has never advocated rhetoric saying he should be elected solely because he is black. However, he said he's opposed to the commission tipping 6-4 in favor of either whites or blacks.

He said he was "knocking on doors" during Monday's news conference behind the Municipal Building and was not responsible for what was said.

Mr. Mason said after the news conference that while he does have a preference between the two candidates, he is not making a public endorsement. He said he hopes to initiate a healing process, given the way the District 1 race has gone so far.

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

Comments (22) Add comment
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Riverman1
81467
Points
Riverman1 11/25/09 - 04:33 am
0
0
Mr. Mason will be mayor one

Mr. Mason will be mayor one day and he is fair minded person, but he does have a preference and that's Fennoy. Personally, I don't like Fennoy or Aitken. I think they are both candidates of machines. Dang, I can only lament about this, but can you imagine if Palmer had been the candidate and Fennoy wanted to debate him? Palmer would have showed up at black churches or any other place and they probably couldn't stop him from talking. He would have ended up winning some of those folks over to his side. Aitken on the other hand....

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 11/25/09 - 06:05 am
0
0
both of these wet-noodle

both of these wet-noodle pin-up politicians are vying for your vote! The elections board is open Mon. Fri. 8am - 5pm, til December 1st. Get out and let your voice be heard (for a second anyway)

Notreally
4
Points
Notreally 11/25/09 - 07:41 am
0
0
Lord let Fennoy win please.

Lord let Fennoy win please.

LocalThives
0
Points
LocalThives 11/25/09 - 07:43 am
0
0
Don't these local
Unpublished

Don't these local preachermens know about seperation of church and state, got to be stupid fools, LOL where they come from.

justus4
99
Points
justus4 11/25/09 - 08:11 am
0
0
Fennoy will win easily. The
Unpublished

Fennoy will win easily. The other guy would upset the balance of the commission, and that would adversely effect U know who. However, they gotta watch those ballots and that district. This could get tricky.

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 11/25/09 - 08:39 am
0
0
Fennoy-60%.......Aitken--40%

Fennoy-60%.......Aitken--40%

MyChronicleUserAccount
0
Points
MyChronicleUserAccount 11/25/09 - 08:40 am
0
0
Lord let Aitken win please.

Lord let Aitken win please. We already got Maobama!

ColCo
656
Points
ColCo 11/25/09 - 08:41 am
0
0
He has never advocated racial

He has never advocated racial rhetoric? I believe Mr. Fennoy's quote at the Summerville Resident's Association was "I'm not racist, but a black has to represent blacks."

sojakpelfree
0
Points
sojakpelfree 11/25/09 - 08:51 am
0
0
Hate to be the one to break

Hate to be the one to break the news to you mason, but the city is already a circus, the commissioners are the clowns and the negro leadership are the buffoons!

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 11/25/09 - 09:00 am
0
0
Quote from the article: "Mr.

Quote from the article: "Mr. Fennoy said he has never advocated rhetoric saying he should be elected solely because he is black. However, he said he's opposed to the commission tipping 6-4 in favor of either whites or blacks." This is talking out of both sides of your mouth. It is a prejudiced statement.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 11/25/09 - 09:04 am
0
0
Augusta is a diverse

Augusta is a diverse community that includes many capable, skilled, intelligent, caring people that are excluded from being commissioners because they are not white or black. It is prejudiced to think they could not and should not represent and serve Augusta in this district just because they are not black or white. It is prejudiced to think that only a black can serve and represent blacks or only a white can serve and represent whites. It is time for this ignorant, backwards and prejudiced way of choosing commissioners to be trashed.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 11/25/09 - 09:05 am
0
0
Not all blacks vote alike.

Not all blacks vote alike. Not all whites vote alike. So why does a black have to represent that district?

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 11/25/09 - 10:04 am
0
0
Maybe they should split

Maybe they should split district 1 into the black section and the white section and have two commissioners. Making the total commissioners 11 for the county.

FormerAugustaResident
101
Points
FormerAugustaResident 11/25/09 - 10:13 am
0
0
Being a former District 1

Being a former District 1 resident, and still owning a home there, it is so disheartening to see a great city held back by such incompetent leadership. Note there is no, I repeat...NO..discussion about the capabilities of either candidate. Only who is black and who is white...and can one color represent the other. I now live in a city with a lot of similarities to Augusta. It is a well governed city where progress is obvious and political bickering is minimal. There is even a black mayor, but I've never heard anyone make reference to that fact because it is a moot point. I hope that someday Augusta can get there....but it's not looking like it will be anytime soon.

chel
0
Points
chel 11/25/09 - 11:03 am
0
0
@FallingLeaves: You ask why

@FallingLeaves: You ask why does a black have to represent that district? I will tell you the same thing we were told when we tried to open a shelter in the area: "if you ain't black, you can't possibly understand what goes on with our people". That was a direct quote from one of the "ministers" in town. That mentality no matter if it comes from a black person or white person, will always bring divisive feelings. I think what Mr. Mason is trying to convey to in light of the news conference is that you don't [filtered word] off the tax bases that pay the bills and that group of Ministers, Beard and the others seem to forget that on a regular basis. We gave up the shelter after the lack of support, so watch and see how many of the people who actually fund that district with their tax money decide to do the same.

LolaJean
1
Points
LolaJean 11/25/09 - 01:38 pm
0
0
Justus, do mean watching the

Justus, do mean watching the ballots like all of america should have done with the shananigans that ACORN was pulling last fall?

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 11/25/09 - 04:46 pm
0
0
chel I believe you. I've

chel I believe you. I've heard nearly the same words in similar contexts myself. Over a couple of decades ago I came back to the United States feeling relieved that I was getting away from the intolerance and prejudice overseas only to observe it worse here in the U.S. everywhere we traveled. I never thought it could get worse, but it has even if it has taken different forms. I am so disappointed that crippling prejudice is still so rampant.

chel
0
Points
chel 11/25/09 - 05:31 pm
0
0
WGAC just brought up a good

WGAC just brought up a good point concerning what the Minister's had to say on WRDW the other night in reference to Aitken. The statement of how can a drug dealer, drug addict and someone with several aliases qualify for a seat on the commission can be easily answered: The same way Ed McIntyre tried to run! I don't remember these people complaining then? Do you?

jack
10
Points
jack 11/25/09 - 06:39 pm
0
0
Funny how the black preachers

Funny how the black preachers want us to remember Mr Aitken's drug problems of 20 years ago, but over looked Ed McEntyre's crookedness when re-running or public office not to mention over looking the fact Charles Walker was under federal indictement when they re-elected im. Feenoy's calim to fame on the Coliseum Authority was to see no votes were taken by absenting himself. The typical black racist double standard.

sojakpelfree
0
Points
sojakpelfree 11/25/09 - 06:40 pm
0
0
Dang, looks like ol fat cheek

Dang, looks like ol fat cheek fennoy had about 100lbs on lil woody pecker! Think ol fen will try to ride roughshod over the commission like he did ol pecker?

Riverman1
81467
Points
Riverman1 11/25/09 - 09:03 pm
0
0
Woody looks pretty fat too

Woody looks pretty fat too for his height.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 11/26/09 - 12:37 am
0
0
Do the right thing.. write in

Do the right thing.. write in Butch Palmer.

FrogLegs
0
Points
FrogLegs 11/26/09 - 12:49 am
0
0
If Fennoy gets in we are

If Fennoy gets in we are toast. Believe it or not it will be back to square one and nothing will get done. A lot of people will start to leave Augusta again. If you saw this guy in action at the forums you would know just what I mean. He is always trying to think over and over his answer before answering it, just like blue dress Bill Clinton and Getting nothing done Obama. (Thank Goodness He is not getting his evil ideas completed.)

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 11/26/09 - 01:57 am
0
0
I asked a neighbor if she was

I asked a neighbor if she was going to vote, she said she doesn't vote in local elections. I guess she'll get what she deserves then.

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