Candidates tout investment in Augusta at forum

 

Augusta’s five candidates for mayor steered for the high road when asked whether past decisions would impact their service to the city at a Tuesday televised forum.

“What we’ve got to focus on is the future and how great it can be,” responded Charles Cummings, a retired business owner.

“How I live my personal life I’m proud of,” answered Sen. Hardie Davis, the pastor of Abundant Life Worship Center. “To ostracize or even characterize any individual is unjust.”

For much of the day, a week before election day May 20, media outlets buzzed over reports of candidate Helen Blocker-Adams’ unpaid Aiken County debts, which Blocker-Adams said she wasn’t aware she owed.

“It’s about what we do with that past; how we improve on that past,” said Commissioner Alvin Mason. “I’m thankful for my struggles ... My past has helped me be who I am today,” he said.

“Definitely, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” responded candidate Lori Myles.

Blocker-Adams noted her “22 years in business, through three recessions. I represent 99 percent of the population; everybody has had stuff ... Someone like me who has gone through stuff today, yes, compassion is needed.”

Asked if they were “personally invested” in Augusta, Davis said his stake was in the 31,000 children who attend Richmond County schools, including his son, for whom he wants to make Augusta a place they’ll want to return to after graduation, like he did.

Mason said he’d owned businesses in Augusta and owns property, and his daughter and granddaughter live here, but his biggest stake was the soldiers at Fort Gordon, where he retired from the Army and now works as a civilian.

“My biggest investment is I own Washington Road,” said Myles, taking another approach. “If something’s wrong with Cherry Tree, I’m there. Every part of Augusta is me.”

Blocker-Adams said while she didn’t own real estate, her stake was her business and the “hundreds of kids” she’s mentored here. “That’s why I feel like I have a vested interest.”

In the end, the Committee for Good Government that sponsored the forum endorsed Davis, with 34 votes, but gave Blocker-Adams 22 and Mason seven. Myles received two votes.

“I would vote for Helen Blocker-Adams,” said member Dorothy Levitt. “A lot of these came here tonight to get our votes and won’t come back.”

Blocker-Adams regularly attends the group’s meetings and has close relationships with its members, said Levitt’s daughter, Joan Germaine.

“If she wins the endorsement, it’s going to be for that reason,” Germaine said.

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