At 32, Brandon Dial is less than half the age of incumbent Grady Smith, 66, but Dial said his youth is an asset.
“I think it’s time for a new generation of people on the county commission,” said Dial, an attorney who focuses on family law.
Dial, a political newcomer, said he’s received “positive” feedback from behind the many doors on which he’s knocked the last few months.
“Part of why I got in the race, part of what I’m hearing from voters is a disappointment with Grady and his record,” Dial said. “They’re disappointed in his attendance record and his usage of the gas card.”
Smith missed several meetings in 2012 because of heart surgery and complications from diabetes, but said he’s fully recovered.
The owner of a successful plumbing business with his brother, Smith said he came from a time people respected “gray-headed wisdom.”
“What does he own?” Smith asked. The young “want to be down the road, but they don’t want to pay the price; they want to leapfrog.”
Smith, who defeated the much-younger, Deke Copenhaver-backed Sean Frantom in 2010, defended his use of the gas card to travel around the large super district and to training sessions in other cites.
Dial said he wanted to “restore trust in city government” that is eroded when residents see officials abuse the system.
Smith was censured by his colleagues in 2013 when his company was found to be performing subcontracting work on an Augusta Utilities contract at Fort Gordon.
He defended the work Friday, saying he informed the city attorney about the work, which he said his company performed at the lowest price.
“When does a county own property on a federal post?” he asked. “When it’s a bid process and you’re a subcontractor, you’re so far down the bread line. We should be all about saving the taxpayers money in Richmond County.”
The garrulous Smith counts his Richmond County classmates among his donors and supporters and said his success in business and politics stems from always making time for people.
“My guys that work for me, they’ve given their life for this company. My door’s never shut. All my guys know they can depend on me,” he said. “That’s the way I was raised, starting with Monte Sano school all the way to Richmond Academy. What you see is what you get.”