Priorities of politics discussed in mayor's race

Davis, Gilyard to campaign for change in community

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Augusta's mayor, Deke Copenhaver, wants to keep on the path he's on for the next four years, while his challengers want to take different routes.

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Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver will face a challenge from first-time candidate Lori Davis and Gil Gilyard, who ran for mayor in 2006.   File/Staff
File/Staff
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver will face a challenge from first-time candidate Lori Davis and Gil Gilyard, who ran for mayor in 2006.

Copenhaver said he'll continue focusing on three major objectives if he reclaims the city's top job in November's election.

Challenger Lori Davis said she'll work to make city government more welcoming, to get residents more involved and to pass a Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance.

Challenger Gil Gilyard said he'll work to prepare Augusta's work force for new jobs by strengthening vocational educational opportunities, improving infrastructure in neighborhoods and equalizing where public money is spent.

Copenhaver said that since he first ran for mayor in 2005 he has focused on three main objectives and will continue to do so.

"I've long said we need to provide opportunity to all citizens and make every effort to keep our best and brightest young people in Augusta," he said. "After taking office, I convened regular meetings of our local economic development professionals to share information on ongoing initiatives in order to more effectively recruit and retain businesses."

That initiative has paid off in spades, he said, attracting new industry to Augusta, such as Automatic Data Processing, a Fortune 300 company that ultimately will bring 1,000 jobs to Augusta; T-Mobile, which brought 750 jobs; and, most recently, ERS Convergent, which has promised to bring 400 jobs to the city.

"The team effort has been so successful that the Brookings Institute recently ranked Augusta as having the seventh-fastest recovering economy in the nation, along with our local economy receiving accolades from business publications, including Forbes and Business Week ," he wrote in an e-mail.

The mayor said his second objective -- improving government efficiency -- has resulted in shorter Augusta Commission meetings and more communication and consensus-building among commissioners. That has paid off in getting stalled projects moving, such as the downtown Trade, Exhibit and Event Center. He attributes the commission's new spirit of cooperation with keeping the tax rate the same for three years in a row and allowing the board to roll back taxes this year.

His third objective has been to heal the city's racial divide and bringing residents together, sharing one vision. To that end, he has held monthly prayer breakfasts where relationships and friendships have been forged, he said.

Contrary to the mayor's rosy view of the state of affairs in Augusta, challenger Davis said she was prompted to run because of the obstacles and bureaucracy that she encountered while trying to do something about the criminal activity in her Harrisburg neighborhood.

One of her objectives as mayor would be to get Georgia law changed to allow cities to pass Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinances that would hold landlords accountable for their tenants' bad behavior.

She did not prevail in getting an ordinance passed in Augusta. Instead, a subcommittee passed a resolution calling for a three-member task force to deal with neighborhood issues.

"I think it's a good step in the wrong direction, even though I voted for it," she said. "At least it was a step. And we had to have something, but when did you ever see a government job go away?"

A main plank in her platform is to make the government more resident-friendly and welcoming.

"I noticed the first time I went to the full commission to speak about a CNPO, nobody was welcoming," she said. "People from Harrisburg packed the room. I think they should have been recognized. It was almost as if the citizens didn't exist. I would like to see that changed."

Davis said that if she is elected, she will greet people who go to the meetings at the door.

She also would bridge the gap between the city and the school system through community projects involving students.

"I just think a mayor needs to get out in the community and work with people on a regular basis," she said. "I'm running on the part of the consolidation law that says the duties of the mayor are to be the chief executive officer of Augusta-Richmond County and have the ordinances and laws governing Augusta-Richmond County put in full force.

"I'm running on this. It's on my card because this has not been happening in this city."

Gilyard, meanwhile, said he's focusing on: "Things we can do to get Augusta moving and things that we need to do to get Augusta moving. Things are missing off the scene. We can do better."

His primary goal is to bring the leadership to "transform Augusta into a city of growth and progressiveness."

The city needs jobs, he said.

"What is it we can do to attract people to Augusta and keep our children here. My children can't find jobs here. I'm not saying they would live here, but they would have a choice," he said.

Gilyard also said he would focus on Augusta's crime rate and seek to reduce it through educating constituents. He also would focus on quality-of-life issues, especially in south Augusta.

"What happens on one side of town, when amenities are added, I want those amenities for everyone. I'm not sure that's the way it is right now," he said.

Sometimes people look elsewhere for the success that might be right here in Augusta, he said.

"We have a lot of talented people, and I'm not sure it's being utilized," he said. "We seem to be exporting our talent."

Gilyard said he would work to make the government work for everyone, "not just for a certain percentage of people."

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georgiasouthern
5
Points
georgiasouthern 08/12/10 - 01:41 am
0
0
Any websites with the

Any websites with the platforms up yet?

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 08/12/10 - 01:42 am
0
0
Thumbs up to you Deke. You

Thumbs up to you Deke. You have done a great job and if the voters of Richmond County can see the forest for the trees they will vote for you. If I still lived in Augusta,I would be out knocking on doors to assist in helping you stay in office. Best wishes.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 08/12/10 - 04:03 am
0
0
Pullllleassse, don't let Deke

Pullllleassse, don't let Deke take credit for our insular economy that protected us from the recession. It's the government jobs in our area responsible for that. But he can certainly take credit for the TEE he and the cabal pushed in their secret dealings. (One of them will be in federal court soon.) Deke, he's a nice guy™, can also take credit for pushing the baseball stadium on the river in the face of opposition from the people. Elect Lori Davis mayor.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/12/10 - 04:57 am
0
0
Mr Gilyard. With all these

Mr Gilyard. With all these companys coming in and paying top wages for phone answerers, why would your children leave? Why, in a couple of yeears, with a little bit of savings, they could probably afford to move into one of the "trailerhoods" in south Augusta. And why would you concern yourself with making Augusta equal in amenities for all people? I don't care what you do with south Augusta as long as you leave my city provided internet connection alone downtown, whwere we all need it. And the issue of a crime problem is a no problem issue. Just read the paper and you will see we don't have much reportable crime at all. Yeah, Lori the "greeter" is a better choice, especially if you own property in Harrisburg.

Brad Owens
4914
Points
Brad Owens 08/12/10 - 05:32 am
0
0
Deke has some good paid

Deke has some good paid consultants. They ran a poll and turned up those three "issues" he should run on for him and now he is sticking to the script.

RM1 hit the nail on the head about where the credit should go about our economic situation. Let me get this right, the mayor can't get six commissioners to vote to study the stadium idea yet he, along with a few Young Pros of Augusta in meetings together, is the MAJOR reason our situation is less bad than other places? Yeah, RIGHT!

Lori sounds like the kind of mayor we need. I like her attitude about things and she seems like she would be dedicated to making what we have better.

Enforce the law and treat people with respect.

Boy wouldn't that be a change?

Brad

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 08/12/10 - 06:59 am
0
0
Deke if you want to keep on

Deke if you want to keep on the path for the next four years like the last
four ....You will find yourself at home on the couch scratching your head.....
thinking We need a Downtown Stadium..you have not done doodley squat
Now you want to steal your opponents ideas and make them yours A real
independent thinker you are. I agree with Brad "treat People with Respect" You have to give in order to receive Batter-UP !!!

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 08/12/10 - 07:14 am
0
0
And NO I DON"T WANT TO BE

And NO I DON"T WANT TO BE YOUR FACEBBOK FRIEND SO DON"T ASK
AGAIN....WHATS THAT ALL ABOUT?

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 08/12/10 - 07:32 am
0
0
here we go, touting how great

here we go, touting how great it is in augusta, question is what is the pay rates for adt, t mobile...etc do they pay enuff to raise a family, purchase a home or even rent a decent place to live..i think not...strip away the GOV'T JOBS and the unemployment level would be around 15%

Dixieman
17584
Points
Dixieman 08/12/10 - 08:20 am
0
0
Deke is cool, and has got my

Deke is cool, and has got my vote for as long as he wants the job.

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 08/12/10 - 08:36 am
0
0
Dissman, top wages for

Dissman, top wages for telephone answerers are not necessarily the best wages for college educated people with degrees. Their areas of expertise are more than likely not answering phones. Mr. Gilyard is right to want more for the area, but the area has got to be attractive to out of town businesses. I think Deke's done well so far, but things need to improve throughout Richmond County and not just in West Augusta.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/12/10 - 08:48 am
0
0
Deke's three issues: 1) The

Deke's three issues:
1) The economy - He cuts ribbons
2) Government efficiency - He negotiates a bribe worth millions of our dollars to get one commissioner's vote. That's not a lot to him, but it is for us working folk.
3) Racial unity - He runs from controversy. Think of a racially tense time and think about where Deke was. Where was Deke when cars were being burned and cops were being pelted with rocks during a small race riot in the projects a couple of years ago?

Brad Owens
4914
Points
Brad Owens 08/12/10 - 09:01 am
0
0
Dixeman, Glad to know you

Dixeman,

Glad to know you reward inaction with your vote.

Brad

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 08/12/10 - 09:07 am
0
0
Deke has failed miserably on

Deke has failed miserably on all 3 on his big issues over the past 4 years. I noticed he didn't mention what seems to be his biggest priority and that is wasting taxpayer money on a baseball stadium downtown.

Vote for Lori.

cleanup
0
Points
cleanup 08/12/10 - 09:19 am
0
0
Lori Davis would make a

Lori Davis would make a terrible mayor. Tell ya what, she can be mayor of Harrisburg.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/12/10 - 09:30 am
0
0
Here are some of Lori's goals

Here are some of Lori's goals and intentions. Website is not completed yet, but this is up now.
http://www.loridavisformayor.org/platform.php

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/12/10 - 09:35 am
0
0
And I suppose Deke can be Cal

And I suppose Deke can be Cal Ripken's waterboy

tckr1983
365
Points
tckr1983 08/12/10 - 09:44 am
0
0
I am convinced that Augusta

I am convinced that Augusta is one of two things to many of the posters on this website... 1) The most unhappy city in the world. 2) If Jesus was mayor, there would be unrest for someone else to be hold the top office in Augusta.

Maybe we should call up Sconyers, McIntyre or DeVaney... see what they're up to. I'd bet they would do better...

Insider -

Are you talking about the Justin Elmore incident in Cherry Tree Crossing?

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 08/12/10 - 09:45 am
0
0
Lori Davis has a Facebook

Lori Davis has a Facebook page up, titled "Lori Davis for Mayor." Riverman mailed his contribution directly to her and marked it the same: "Lori Davis for Mayor." She graciously responded with a thank you and a note in the mail. She truly is a gracious person.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/12/10 - 09:55 am
0
0
Yes Cherry Tree Crossing, and

Yes Cherry Tree Crossing, and we pay the mayor a salary of over $76,000 a year.. I don't think it should be too much too ask that the mayor makes himself available to the public when an incident like that occurs. Instead, Deke ran for cover. That's not leadership. He only likes to show up for the fun stuff.. the photo opps and the ribbon cuttings.. but when it comes to handling a tense situation or taking a stand on anything of controversy he's missing in action.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/12/10 - 10:00 am
0
0
And btw.. it was revealed

And btw.. it was revealed about a year ago that in one year Deke had 29 scheduled meetings with Ripken Baseball to discuss a new ballpark. But during that same time period he had NO meetings with The Sheriff's department and No meetings with the school superintendant. Lori, according to her platform, would meet with these other public officials regularly to help build a city-wide strategy involving ALL players to help combat crime and improve schools. But if you have a mayor who doesn't even take the time to meet regularly with these key public officials yet meets 29 times with baseball bigwigs, then I think his priorities are in the wrong place.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 08/12/10 - 10:07 am
0
0
I'm a realist and know Lori

I'm a realist and know Lori faces a next to impossible battle to dislodge Deke's machine. Remember he paid a professional organization a great deal to run his campaign the last time and had polls done often telling him what to say. His pollsters predicted a huge victory and they were correct.

Having said that Lori makes Augusta a better place simply by being in the race. Deke and the Sheriff have already responded to her pressure and have been forced to take action to start getting the druggies off the streets. If she should somehow manage to pull off a victory, things would only continue to improve.

I appreciate the way Deke has represented the city, but he has his drawbacks. He refuses to be a leader when something controversial comes up. He refuses to make ripples in the pond of city departments and administration when something is wrong that affects the common taxpaying citizens, but he will work behind the scenes with everyone to push HIS group's projects such as the TEE Center. Think he was involved in getting Matt Aitken elected?

He represents the Boardman's and the downtown cabal while neglecting South Augusta and West Augusta. He is entwined with the forces that spent over $100 million to build the unnecessary TEE Center and are attempting to spend millions more for the baseball stadium on the river.

In contrast, Lori Davis is an outsider who shows sensitivity to the citizens as evidenced by her remarks that she would personally greet those who come to Commission meetings.

To steal from Deke's baseball talk, we need to change the line-up and get a new clean-up hitter in Lori Davis.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/12/10 - 10:08 am
0
0
Onlyags321.. Having dealt

Onlyags321.. Having dealt with Lori, she is indeed a very gracious and genuine person. No fakeness or ulterior motives at all. Deke comes off as a nice guy, but distant. As someone who has attended commission meetings regularly, she is absolutely correct that the mayor and many commissioners (except for a few like Joe Bowles and Matt Aitken) don't even acknowledge your presence. Actually Deke seems a bit peeved when alot of citizens show up because it means the meeting may not be as speedy as he likes so that he can go back training for a triatholon or having meetings with officials from ripken baseball.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 08/12/10 - 10:10 am
0
0
OnlyinAgs321, who do you

OnlyinAgs321, who do you support for mayor?

Emery, we are thinking alike. Deke works like crazy for HIS projects, but does nothing for the important day-to-day things the voters are concerned about.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/12/10 - 10:12 am
0
0
Riverman.. Deke won big in

Riverman.. Deke won big in his last couple of elections because he didn't really have much competition. I think he does in Lori... and people of Augusta are not stupid and the political climate has changed.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 08/12/10 - 10:14 am
0
0
Maybe voters will split along

Maybe voters will split along gender lines. Half for the men and half for Lori....ha.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/12/10 - 10:15 am
0
0
Riverman, you should join

Riverman, you should join Team Lori. Get in touch with Lori or send your contact info via Facebook and she will get back in touch with you.
I also think it is disengenous for Deke to now be complaining about the ballpark being his one main issue. The facts don't lie. He met with Ripken baseball 29 times in one year but couldn't seem to find the time in his busy schedule to meet with The sheriff's dept, Housing dept officials, or school superintendant. The ballpark has been his main issue.

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 08/12/10 - 10:17 am
0
0
Emery and River, In looking

Emery and River, In looking at Lori's platform I noticed:
"I will work to bridge the public funding discrepancy between those neighborhoods who have, and those who have not."
Do I need to call in "Joe the Plumber" to decipher this or can ya'll help?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/12/10 - 10:17 am
0
0
Well River.. I'm a guy, and I

Well River.. I'm a guy, and I know a lot of guys in Augusta voting for Lori. I know she has a lot of support among women, but her appeal is broader than that, and she is not running as just "the woman candidate" but rather the best candidate to lead Augusta forward.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 08/12/10 - 10:20 am
0
0
Joe, as I said above, the

Joe, as I said above, the downtown area gets hundreds of millions while South and West Augusta only get tax bills. By the way, I've noticed that some are starting to play on her words like you did. Interesting tact. Of course, we could do the same thing to ALL of you including Deke.

Emery, like I said, I'm in contact with her now. I'll help in any way I can.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/12/10 - 10:20 am
0
0
That is specifically about

That is specifically about South Augusta and how difficult it has been for many residents in that part of the city to simply get basic city services for which they pay for.. for many having their property tax assessments and garbage fee jacked up over the last few years. And I think it is very noticeable that there are major discrepencies in how the city responds to certain parts of the city in issues of code enforcement, etc.

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