“He is running,” Johnson said. “His announcement will be coming shortly.”
Johnson, the president of Johnson Motor Co., said he has developed a friendship with Russell over the past few years and believes in Russell’s ability to lead the city as mayor.
“Our city, with all the great things that are about to happen to it, with an inexperienced city administrator coming in, we don’t need an inexperienced mayor,” Johnson said.
“He’s the most qualified to make sure that we handle the prosperity coming – the Cyber Command, and all the schools.”
A former Richmond, Va., police chief, Russell joined Augusta’s government in 2002 as a deputy city administrator. He was promoted to administrator in 2004 and held the job for nearly 10 years.
On Dec. 9, the Augusta Commission, citing a need to move in “a different direction,” voted 9-0 to fire him and begin a nationwide search for his replacement.
The firing took place in the midst of rapid changes, including the recent announcement that the Army is relocating the Army Cyber Command Center to Fort Gordon within the next five years – a move that is slated to create more than 2,000 high-paying jobs for the Augusta area.
Russell is the “most qualified” and knows city government, Johnson said.
“He’s got the ability to work with everybody. He walks in on Day 1 knowing how to help the city run,” Johnson said.
Also on Russell’s team is Augusta businessman Brad Usry, who is serving as campaign treasurer, Johnson said.
Russell will take on a growing field of candidates in an election that is scheduled for May 20.
Also seeking the mayor’s
post are Augusta Commission
member Alvin Mason; state Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta; entrepreneur Helen Blocker-Adams;
and businessman Charles Cummings.