4 of 5 hopefuls for Augusta mayor attend forum held by educator association

MAYORAL CANDIDATES QUESTIONED

Thursday, March 13, 2014 2:19 PM
Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 1:53 AM
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Four of the five candidates for mayor of Augusta took questions on numerous topics at a Thursday forum sponsored by Richmond County Association of Educators.

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Audience members presented questions to Augusta mayoral candidates during a forum held by the Richmond County Association of Educators in the Board of Education meeting room.   JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Audience members presented questions to Augusta mayoral candidates during a forum held by the Richmond County Association of Educators in the Board of Education meeting room.

The fifth candidate, Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta, said he couldn’t attend the forum because the legislature was in session.

Davis angered the association and many educators statewide when he voted to allow a constitutional amendment permitting the state to create charter schools.

The questions presented to candidates Thursday were submitted by audience members gathered at Richmond County Board of Education and ranged from changing the consolidated government’s charter to replacing polling places at senior citizen housing.

On each, candidates were allowed two minutes to respond.

On changing the city charter to increase the mayor’s authority:

HELEN BLOCKER-ADAMS: “There are too many other issues in Augusta to even think about doing that. The mayor actually has a lot more power than everybody thinks. … The power comes in ways to collaborate and build bridges.”

CHARLES CUMMINGS: “The city administrator has too much power, and some of that power needs to be transferred to the mayor. ... The mayor does have the power of persuasion.”

ALVIN MASON: “A charter change is not necessary, it’s the enforcement of the rules that you have. … The mayor is the chief executive officer of the city. You just have to understand how to utilize that.”

LORI MYLES: A charter change is “not on the agenda at first,” but “after that, the mayor is a lame duck authority in Augusta and it needs to be challenged.”

On how Augusta will look in three years:

CUMMINGS: “Hopefully (it) will have the transportation system functioning. … In three years we just have to work on fundamentals.”

MASON: “In three years, Augusta will be more of a destination city in more than just one week of the year.”

MYLES: “Most of all, it’s a city that looks like it knows what it’s doing.”

BLOCKER-ADAMS: “The biggest perception of Augusta, real or perceived is that we are not united and we do not get along. … Do (commissioners) fight all the time? I don’t think so, but I’m a relationship-builder.”

On attracting new business to Augusta:

MASON, a two-term Augusta commissioner, cited new arrivals since 2008. Costco, ADP, Carmax, Rockwood, Starbucks, Cabela’s, a new 14 movie theater complex, Premier Outlets, the U.S. Army Cyber Command, Wal-Mart on Wrightsboro Road, Whole Foods, Chick-Fil-A and Krispy Kreme in south Augusta.

MYLES: “Augusta needs an advisory council so we could ask the people what they want. … I consider Fort Gordon a prime target for the city of Augusta as far as inclusion.”

BLOCKER-ADAMS: “How about diversifying the economy so we make Augusta an entertainment destination again?”

CUMMINGS, a retired small business owner, mentioned his former semiprofessional football team that included Danny Kite, who once kicked a 63-yard field goal.

The candidates’ best qualities to serve as mayor:

BLOCKER-ADAMS: Running a business for 22 years through three recessions and someone who can easily “work with diverse groups of people.”

CUMMINGS: “Communicating with people and understanding their needs and their plights.”

MASON, a retired Army sergeant and now a Department of Defense employee: “Having the ability to understand governmental operations. … The business of the city is outsourcing, is contracting.”

MYLES, a 28-year educator and language arts instructor at T.W. Josey High School: “Leadership, and of course accessibility.”

On homelessness, and groups that try to help them:

MYLES: “We know some of the buses are stopping by hotels to pick up children. … I’m going to listen to you, thank you.”

CUMMINGS: “We depend on our preachers for a lot, and that’s good. … Once I’m your mayor, I can help you out a lot more.”

MASON: “I already have ministries shaking in their boots with the thought of me becoming mayor. … Enforcement of ordinances and laws is extremely important. The mayor sets the priority for the city.”

BLOCKER-ADAMS: “There’s the other side, and that side doesn’t have a voice and they will have a voice when I become mayor.”

On elderly people who can’t get to the polls May 20:

BLOCKER-ADAMS: “I’m sure all the candidates will make the same offer” to drive them.

MASON: “One of my points in my plan is ADA compliance for the disabled and the elderly.”

CUMMINGS: “When I’m mayor, I’ll put those (voting) booths back in the building for you.”

MYLES: “A lot of Augusta is going to be shocked that the date to actually vote for mayor of Augusta is May 20.”

Comments (13) Add comment
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Riverman1
94210
Points
Riverman1 03/14/14 - 04:16 am
3
2
The new face of Augusta

The new face of Augusta. Who were the two white guys in the audience? Mason made an unusual statement about the ministries shaking in their boots if he's elected. I don't know if I'd told that as Lewis Grizzard used to say.

seenitB4
98428
Points
seenitB4 03/14/14 - 06:50 am
2
1
What exactly does that mean??

“How about diversifying the economy

dsterling9
1255
Points
dsterling9 03/14/14 - 07:39 am
3
1
Mayorial Candidates

At this point none of the candidates would get my vote for mayor. I do believe there is a point to be made about the mayor being a 'lame duck authority'...a position with little or no authority. Whoever is elected I hope they take their oath and job description seriously. We do not need someone who has shown a disregard and disrespect for authority in the past. Waiting to see more of what each candidate has to say. Should a minister become mayor that person should step out of the pastoral position to ensure there is no hint of special interest.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 03/14/14 - 08:22 am
2
2
Stale

Helen Blocker-Adams was a breath of fresh air when she blew in a few years ago. But now that wind is blowing stale. Just look as this answer to a question about attracting businesses to Augusta:

“How about diversifying the economy so we make Augusta an entertainment destination again?”

In the first place, when has Augusta ever been an entertainment destination? That's just silly.

In the second place, you've got entertainment in Augusta 365 nights a year; and you've got big-name entertainment in Augusta dozens of nights a year. When will the entertainment junkies be satisfied? Never.

So Blocker-Adams’ answer to the economic development question was a non-answer, a punt, a dive. It shows she has no plan to develop businesses in Augusta.

Riverman1
94210
Points
Riverman1 03/14/14 - 09:25 am
3
1
Sheriff Roundtree Factor?

I wonder if Sheriff Roundtree is going to announce his support for one of them? That would be a major factor.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 03/14/14 - 09:53 am
2
1
Augusta's future

I'm hoping the citizens of Richmond County attend every single forums and get to know each candidate. Please don't rely on the soundbites or quotes taken from the media.

All of the pictures taken from downtown Augusta in the 50's and 60's look very similar to an entertainment destination...

Definition of diverse economy: The economy relies on multiple industries and not one particular sector(i.e GRU or Fort Gordon)for growth..

The current mayor wants to focus on attracting new industry and stop relying heavily on Fort Gordon for example..

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 03/14/14 - 12:59 pm
1
0
Focus

Yeah, the current administration tries to lure new companies with tax exemptions, tax credits, Tax Allocation Districts, etc. Unfortunately, existing Augusta businesses don't get those tax goodies, so the existing businesses wither on the vine, strangled by taxes.

It seems unfair to me to have different tax rates for businesses just depending on whether you were lured here or you've been here a long time. Have all pay the same tax rates. That's the only fair way.

lovingthesouth72
1408
Points
lovingthesouth72 03/14/14 - 02:59 pm
0
0
Charter schools offer success!

Kudos to Davis for promoting charter schools. Tests results show that kids that attend charter schools instead of their failing public schools have passing rates of 80% compared to only 30% passing rate in public schools. Parent are happy and kids succeed! And the future of that child is suddenly bright. Which means that the future of the community is bright as well. The opposers of charter schools only do so for selfish political ambitions and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Darby
29441
Points
Darby 03/14/14 - 04:32 pm
1
0
'Davis angered the association and many

educators statewide when he voted to allow a constitutional amendment permitting the state to create charter schools.'

If that were the only issue, I'd vote for him in a heartbeat. We need more school choice, not less...

Darby
29441
Points
Darby 03/14/14 - 04:36 pm
2
0
"CUMMINGS: “When I’m mayor,

I’ll put those (voting) booths back in the building for you.”

.
Talk about demonstrating your ignorance...

Will somebody tell Mr. Cummings that the mayor (nor the commissioners) have any say whatsoever as to where the voting booths go, or how the election districts are drawn.

I hope he's better informed on the other issues before the candidates.

dichotomy
37608
Points
dichotomy 03/14/14 - 04:55 pm
1
0
None of them have a clue.

None of them have a clue. "I'm going to give everybody everything they want and serve apple pie and ice cream afterwards."

"Hopefully (it) will have the transportation system functioning"....whether we can afford it or not.

"I'm going put all of those voting booths back in the building for you"......whether we can afford it or not.

"I'm going to give the "other" side a voice"......which means spend money on "the other side".....at the expense of which "side".

"The mayor is the chief executive officer of the city. You just have to understand how to utilize that"....okay Skybox, we know how your will utilize it.

"Most of all, it’s a city that looks like it knows what it’s doing"....I don't know what perch you have been viewing this city from, but that sure is a different view than I have had.

And as for "giving the other side a voice".....SOMEBODY needs to start listening to the SIDE THAT PAY THE BILLS.

Giving "the other side a voice" is just liberal politician talk for giving somebody more of YOUR money.

And the SCARIEST quote of all....“We depend on our preachers for a lot, and that’s good. … Once I’m your mayor, I can help you out a lot more.” That sounds just like Obama sending Putin a message that he will be more flexible after he is re-elected.

I wish Hardee Davis had been there. As far as I'm concerned, he is the only one that hasn't said a bunch of meaningless stuff.

Riverman1
94210
Points
Riverman1 03/14/14 - 06:14 pm
1
0
Little Interest

Interesting that there appears to be little interest in the election. Apathy?

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 03/14/14 - 06:58 pm
1
0
SPLOST
Unpublished

No questions on The SPLOST? That will be on the same ballot and is something the mayor and commission has some control over. All these questions about schools and education would have been better suited for a school board candidate's forum

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 03/14/14 - 07:05 pm
0
0
Hardie Davis
Unpublished

Has not said much about any of the issues affecting Augusta. Where does he stand on SPLOST? Where does he stand on anything? I don't care if you are a preacher or not, frankly we have too many ministers in government anyway. I want someone who understands the issues and is willing to take a firm position, not give doublespeak and sound like a typical politician. If Hardie cannot show up for the debates, then why is he running? Is he expecting a coronation? I cannot find anything substantive he has done in the legislature. Oh, he did sponsor a bill to double the mayor's salary. How prescient was that? Mason is the man. The only one out of the bunch with a firm grasp of the local issues and the backbone to stand up for the taxpayers. Want more Dekeaid? Vote for Hardie or Helen.

Georgia1964
36
Points
Georgia1964 03/29/14 - 10:06 pm
0
0
Hardie Davis

Voting for Hardie Davis because he is a minister is ludicrous. Hardie Davis has been in Atlanta for seven years and has done absolutely nothing for the citizens that he represented. HD speaks out of both sides of his mouth and he is not to be trusted. I looked at his voting record and he claims to be a democrat but has consistently voted on legislation that republicans support. I don't care which party you are a member of but don't misrepresent the political party affiliation that you truly represent to garner votes. The educators of Georgia should be thoroughly upset with Hardie. HB1187 was a slap in the face to the people that voted him into office. It was a direct assault on public education. Davis received thousands of campaign donations from Charter School supporters outside the state of Georgia such as, the Koch Brother's, Charter Schools of America, WalMart heiress, and many others. He stated at Beulah Grove that he supported public schools. That was a flat out lie! Sure he graduated from Hephzibah High School, but his son attended private school until this year. Now HD is running for Mayor of Augusta, public school is good enough for him. HD stated that he didn't hear from any educators from Augusta. I find that statement hard to believe. He was promised some favors from legislators and voted for the bill. However, he didn't receive those promises. The reason he gave for vacating the Senate seat was its a lateral move. Sure, and I have some beach front property for sale in Nevada. The truth behind his departure from his senate seat is he sold out to those special interest groups and they no longer need his vote. He definitely is not the most "well respected senator" at the Capitol as he wants the citizens of Augusta to believe. He was respected by special interests groups to push their agenda and he didn't receive those promises after they secured his vote. The condition of education didn't happen over night. The deliberate cuts in funding for education was intended to bankrupt the local boards of education and to bilk millions of dollars from taxpayers to fund Charter Schools. Parents need to be more involved in their child's education and instill the importance of education in their children. HD stated at Trinity on the Hill that he didn't support Splost 7 but at Beulah Grove he supported Splost 7. As I recalled, he stated he's running on the platform of transparency. What are we really to believe? Is HD to be trusted? if he supports Splost 7, he is getting something in return. I'm sure Augusta Technical College will be awarded some of those dollars that can be utilized for anything. To the person that stated they are voting for HARDIE DAVIS because he is a minister...REALLY! Who are you Judas or Peter?

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