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Jackson says he's not running for mayor, throws support to Russell

Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 7:10 PM
Last updated Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 1:09 AM
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Count Joe Jackson out – and potentially, former city administrator Fred Russell in – in the election for Augusta mayor.

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Augusta-Richmond County Commissioner Joe Jackson (left) announced that he will not be running for mayor.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Augusta-Richmond County Commissioner Joe Jackson (left) announced that he will not be running for mayor.

Jackson, a two-term commissioner from District 6, said Wednesday he has ruled out running for mayor this year and has thrown his support instead behind Russell, whom the commission voted to fire Dec. 9.

“I’ve already met with (Russell) and he asked me for his support and I gave it to him,” Jackson said. “Fred told me to go ahead and let everybody know. … He said he was going to announce this week.”

Widely speculated to be a potential candidate, Russell hasn’t filed paperwork with the state ethics office disclosing his intent to accept campaign contributions. He also hasn’t denied interest, but did not respond to messages Wednesday seeking confirmation.

In an election likely held May 20, four candidates – Commissioner Alvin Mason, Sen. Hardie Davis and businesspeople Helen Blocker-Adams and Charles Cummings – have declared their intent to seek the job, which pays $65,000 annually.

So far, there is no announced white candidate for mayor in a city long-known for its racial politics.

Russell’s popularity with the 10-member commission waxed and waned over his 12-year tenure. In the end, he wasn’t fired for breaking any rule or law, and left office with a six-month severance package as commissioners cited the need to move in a different direction.

“With Fred’s knowledge and ability – and I thought about this when we fired him – he would make a good mayor,” Jackson said. “To me, he would make a better mayor than the other candidates that are putting their name out there.”

Russell, 61, is no stranger to politics. He led the Virginia State Crime Commission for five years and ran for sheriff of Richmond, Va., shortly before he was hired as deputy Augusta administrator in 2002.

Jackson said caring for his wife, who has a serious illness, and their three children was more important than a run for mayor.

“I’ve got a lot going on with my family right now,” Jackson said. “I’m going to focus on my business and take care of my life. … It’s God, family, business and then commission.”

Because of state-level indecision, the date of Augusta’s mayoral and five commission elections is not yet settled. Slated for July, most observers expect the legislature to move nonpartisan local races to May, to coincide with the date of the federal primary, with qualifying to start in March.

Augusta’s three mayors since consolidation have served a limited, full-time role as representative of the city. In the commission chamber where six commission votes set city policy, the mayor officiates the meetings and might break a tie but has no veto.

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internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 01/08/14 - 09:30 pm
7
0
To say the least

This should be interesting.

Riverman1
79593
Points
Riverman1 01/08/14 - 11:19 pm
7
2
Mayor Fred Better Get Arrest Powers

Internationallyunknown is right. This is going to be so interesting it's going to turn the corner to Weird St. It’s going to be as bizarre as the latest episode of The Walking Dead zombie thing. In a racially divided town, there’s only one white candidate, one great white hope, but it’s an unlikely one. It’s the former administrator who was just fired by the Commission. This same candidate who endured a drill sergeant like berating by Alvin Mason at a Commission meeting. He was called everything you can imagine in public.

Can you imagine Russell in charge of Commission meetings, trying to maintain order? Deke had his aloof, almost foggy, outsider protective mechanism that kept him above the mosh pit. Russell is a lightning rod of political storms. If he is elected the first move he better make is to increase security at Commission meetings. He’s still certified as a police officer, isn’t he? In addition to his Robert’s Rules of Order, he better bring his gun, taser, cuffs, billy club and mace to the meetings

Russell’s best shot at winning is to gain 51% of the vote in the primary before the blacks unite behind a candidate. Russell is going to get the vast majority of the white vote…that’s the plan anyway…and if he can gain even a small percentage of black support, he’s in. Deke was an unknown and he did it.

This election is bizarre, weird, uncanny and odd all rolled into one, but that describes Augusta politics perfectly.

dichotomy
30680
Points
dichotomy 01/09/14 - 12:43 am
10
3
Heck, I'll vote for Russell

Heck, I'll vote for Russell just to stir the pot. I don't want "skybox" Mason and I would love to see Williams swell up like a toad frog.

Let's face it, nobody could ever be a great administrator working for our dysfunctional commission, but Russell is knowledgeable about most things in Augusta government, which is more than I can say for the others. He might make a fine mayor if we could pry him out of downtown and introduce him to Southeast Richmond County. Just based on his job experience he is more qualified than any of the others.

nocnoc
38633
Points
nocnoc 01/09/14 - 08:43 am
3
1
Was hoping for better

Since the odds of a 5/5 voting split are somewhat high given the make up of the current Commission. The Mayor has little power by ARC Charter other than being a Media Face and voice 99 times out of a 100.

So what we are really electing is a FACE, with hopefully Cooth and that doesn't wear Blue Jean overhauls with no Undershirt or 3xxxlt throwbacks with Saggin's while in office.

But that 1 out of a 100 times would still have me bothered.
Russell and heck most of the Commission, love to TAX & spend money.

We really need some fresh, NON-Political Family related, NON-DOWNTOWN Focused blood as a Mayor.

Whomever that someone is has to have; Cooth, a brain, and sharp leadership skills.

May I suggest some Hand on the Bible questions for all Candidates to answer regarding motives, intentions, protections and goals.

It would even make a good AC Article.
Readers submitting questions they want the Media to ask, or present each candidate to answer. The Top 10-20+ voted TU's questions to be present to each of the candidates and answered in a printed Comparison Chart Page for all to read and hold the winner to in the years to come.

my.voice
4654
Points
my.voice 01/09/14 - 09:20 am
6
1
The City of Augusta needs to

The City of Augusta needs to get an agent and go on cable. It would be a show about nothing.

lifelongresident
1317
Points
lifelongresident 01/09/14 - 09:21 am
1
0
only one question and i am
Unpublished

only one question and i am just asking...why does the paper have to interject race into this article by noting "So far, there is no announced white candidate for mayor in a city long-known for its racial politics."..with the potential candidates listed none impress me but anything critical or supportive should be based on their past/present experience, education, and qualification...i could not give a rats az$ what color the next mayor is just one that is qualified and competent

soapy_725
43555
Points
soapy_725 01/09/14 - 09:38 am
2
0
Robert Dixon? A bizarro world of politics and organized crime.
Unpublished

Robert Dixon? A bizarro world of politics and organized crime.

soapy_725
43555
Points
soapy_725 01/09/14 - 09:39 am
1
0
What a sick, twisted excuse for public representation.
Unpublished

What a sick, twisted excuse for public representation.

soapy_725
43555
Points
soapy_725 01/09/14 - 09:40 am
2
0
We need some white pastors in politics. No that won't work eithe
Unpublished

We need some white pastors in politics. No that won't work eithe

iaaffg
1574
Points
iaaffg 01/09/14 - 10:10 am
5
0
if fred gets to be mayor, can

if fred gets to be mayor, can he fire all the commissioners?

triscuit
2856
Points
triscuit 01/09/14 - 12:10 pm
3
4
Only in Augusta would a

Only in Augusta would a person who was just fired by the Commission, turn around and run to head the city. Wow...this is a token white candidate and everyone in this town knows it. Yes, he may be knowledgeable but as mentioned above, he will be a "face" to represent Augusta. Seriously?? This is who we want to be Augusta's "face?" I've never seen the man smile! I doubt he will pick up many black voters and not as many white voters as people think. It's awful that it comes down to color here. I am white, I'll vote for another candidate, not Fred.

internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 01/09/14 - 12:24 pm
2
0
You can't make this stuff

You can't make this stuff up!

Augusta politics @ its best!

All he needs is a SMALL % of the black vote....shouldn't be too hard...look at Deke.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/09/14 - 02:26 pm
2
0
It's all about who you know

It's all about who you know and how you can influence those that are "important" for downtown progress. If you grease well and don't show out in public, you are a good candidate.

countyman
19164
Points
countyman 01/09/14 - 02:33 pm
1
3
Next mayor

Why do you believe Deke got a small percentage of the black vote? Deke won both of the elections with over 60% of the vote... How is the racial factor in Augusta any different from other cities or the neighbors? The person elected to lead Evans/Martinez is white and the mayors of Aiken/North Augusta are white.

Anybody can run for mayor and you can't stop them if they proceed to follow through. I'm not voting for Fred Russell either and might have to vote for Hardie Davis based on the existing candidates..

I'm definitely not voting for Alvin Mason after the debates involving the TEE Center.. I don't have any problem with somebody debating the issues surrounding the TEE Center(contract, parking deck) but the center was approved by the public.. The city of Augusta is growing much faster in 2014 and we can't afford to get bogged down constantly.. If the residents approve something back in 2005 they don't need to vote again in 2009 simply because the commission didn't agree on the terms.

Riverman1
79593
Points
Riverman1 01/09/14 - 04:35 pm
1
0
Countyman is not voting for Alvin Mason

Countyman is not voting for Alvin Mason, one of the two whom THEY attempted to bribe to vote for the TEE Center. But it was not Mason who reminded Deke in a Commission meeting that the Laney Walker payments for the next 50 years were a pay-off for the TEE. Remember THAT meeting? You almost put me back on Mason's side.

Riverman1
79593
Points
Riverman1 01/09/14 - 04:58 pm
3
0
Fair Question

"Why do you believe Deke got a small percentage of the black vote? Deke won both of the elections with over 60% of the vote.."

That one is a fair question. It's because Deke probably got close to 100% of the white vote. It didn't take much of the black vote to get him to 60%. It would come down to something like 20% of the black vote. So we have a mayor in a town that's majority minority who only had about 20% of the black vote. Heh.

Fred Russell has a real shot at this...as he knows.

SRD
354
Points
SRD 01/09/14 - 05:49 pm
2
0
Good Grief

Good Grief, what a ho-down this would be, and not a throw down I predict. This would make reality cable TV jealous. Personally I plan on supporting someone sane like Andy Cheek.

Riverman1
79593
Points
Riverman1 01/09/14 - 06:02 pm
2
0
Someone Sane

"Personally I plan on supporting someone sane like Andy Cheek."

Yeah right, the canal down Ellis St. and all.

internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 01/09/14 - 06:31 pm
0
0
Kanye

"[Deke Copenhaver] does not care about black people."

Countyman - many didn't vote for him as Riverman has pointed out.

Conservative Man
5303
Points
Conservative Man 01/09/14 - 07:02 pm
0
0
With the current demographic in Augusta...

….The next Mayor will be a minority….Fred is wasting his time and other people's money….But in all fairness, he's been pretty good at that the last few years..

internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 01/10/14 - 10:31 am
0
0
Fred is considered a

Fred is considered a "minority" in Augusta-Richmond County isn't he...?

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