Long considered a swing district that could shift the balance of power on the Augusta Commission, the District 6 commission race includes a newspaper publisher, a former Republican Party official, a pastor and radio personality, a former city employee and a past commission candidate.
Bob Finnegan recently stepped down as chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party. The Fort Gordon retiree is a longtime resident of Augusta’s Alleluia Community, a neighborhood of evangelical Catholics in District 6, and serves on the Augusta Personnel Board.
“I’ll be fairly available; I’m retired,” said Finnegan, pleased to obtain endorsements from The Augusta Chronicle and the Augusta-Richmond County Committee for Good Government.
The district’s concerns are basic, Finnegan said – safety, decent roads, sidewalks. Residents “want the grass cut, they want ditches cleaned out,” he said.
For candidate Ben Hasan, the election takes on a different dimension. A longtime attendee of commission meetings and a self-styled expert on local politics, Hasan’s newspaper, Urban Pro Weekly, recently featured a front-page photo of himself and a feature story about the legacy of racial polarization in Augusta since before consolidation. Elect Hasan, it concluded, to rekindle the old working relationships that existed between the all-Democrat south Augusta blacks and whites before consolidation divided the city along racial lines.
Hasan, whose campaign slogan is “Building a model community through trust,” did not return a Thursday phone call.
Candidate Roger Garvin, the son of a city employee and a former Augusta and Columbia County government employee himself, said it struck him as inappropriate to see Hasan’s newspaper racks inside the Lumpkin Road tag office, but he doesn’t care.
“Nobody’s focusing on infrastructure; nobody’s focusing on the details of what matters,” said Garvin, who filed for bankruptcy in 2008 after losing his limousine business, one of several he started in his 20s.
For Garvin, a campaign party Tuesday at Skate Land of Augusta, where he and his wife work, will cap a campaign he said benefits from young voters. A group of Hephzibah High School students voted early for him, he said, and all will celebrate election night.
“The kids are so exciting to be around,” he said. “They lift my spirits.”
Angela Harden, a pastor, businesswoman and host of the gospel radio program Praise Train Live, wants to “move Augusta forward with integrity and compassion” and rallied against violence at downtown’s River Glen apartment complex. She and Howard Harden filed for bankruptcy in 2001. She did not return a call seeking comment.
Tony Lewis, employed at Savannah River Site, ran for the District 6 seat in 2007 and lost to term-limited incumbent Joe Jackson.