Corey Johnson seeking mayor pro tem spot on Augusta Commission

Augusta Commission member Corey Johnson says now is his time to hold the city’s No. 2 slot as mayor pro tem.

“I feel pretty good about it. Everybody I’ve pretty much spoken to is in agreement,” said the District 2 commissioner, who is entering the third year of his second term.

The two-year appointment means Johnson would preside over commission meetings in Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s absence, although Copenhaver rarely misses meetings.

It also carries a $10,000 salary increase for Johnson, the result of his completion of all training requirements and his longevity in the seat.

His salary will increase from $15,202 to $25,356 if he’s elected mayor pro tem, city officials confirmed.

“It’s not really the money,” Johnson said of the part-time position. “It’s really (being) second-in-charge when it comes to presiding over the meetings, ribbon cuttings, ceremonies and other things. It’s just having the opportunity to serve in that capacity. Having that on your résumé, it says a lot about you as a person and as a leader.”

Johnson recently earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from University of Phoenix, and he has completed Leadership Augusta.

Two years ago, the commission broke a 15-year tradition of electing a black mayor pro tem to serve under a white mayor when it chose outgoing Comissioner Joe Bowles.

Johnson, who is black and wanted the position then, said this time he has the six votes necessary.

Commissioner Joe Jackson said he suggested Johnson for the post earlier in the year and will nominate him at Wednesday’s commission meeting, the first of the new year.

“I think he needs to be the man for two years,” Jackson said. “I don’t have a problem with him; I work with him. We’re different in so many ways, but we think alike.”

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said Johnson has a calming presence on the commission and has his vote for mayor pro tem.

“You need somebody that’s going to be the face of the public, that’s cordial and has the time to do it,” Guilfoyle said.

“Even in legal he’s able to calm the floor,” he said about the closed-door meetings commissioners sometimes hold with the city attorney.

“It’s easy to find problems or point out problems, but it takes leadership to come up with solutions,” Guilfoyle said.

Support for Johnson might not be unanimous. Commissioners Bill Lockett and Grady Smith, who did not return calls seeking comment, have expressed interest in the post.

Commissioner-elect Bill Fennoy said he hadn’t made up his mind, while Commissioner-elect Marion Williams speculated Johnson’s support might come only from Johnson himself and the commission’s five white members.

“I think it might be that way,” Williams said.

The other responsibility of the mayor pro tem is setting commissioner appointments to standing committees, with the mayor’s approval. While most committee votes require full commission approval, a chairman presides over committee meetings, which allow extended discussion of agenda items.

Johnson said his tentative list of two-year committee appointments includes Guilfoyle to serve as chairman of the finance committee; Lockett to remain as administrative services chairman; Jackson to serve as chairman of engineering; Commissioner Alvin Mason to preside over public safety and Smith to lead the city’s public services committee.

The commission will vote on committee and mayor pro tem appointments at Wednesday’s 5 p.m. meeting after the 4 p.m. administration of the oath of office to four incoming commissioners.

 

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Oath of Office ceremony for Commissioners-elect Bill Fennoy, Mary Davis, Donnie Smith and Marion Williams

WHEN: 4 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Lee Beard Commission Chamber, eighth floor, 530 Greene St.

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