Augusta-Richmond County Committee for Good Government endorses incumbents in local races

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 12:37 AM
Last updated Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 9:59 PM
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Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had the wrong district number for school board candidate Jimmy Atkins.

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Charlie Evans, 7, and Cecilia Aitken, 6, walk past campaign posters before the Committee for Good Government's meeting at Julian Smith Casino, where many candidates spoke.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Charlie Evans, 7, and Cecilia Aitken, 6, walk past campaign posters before the Committee for Good Government's meeting at Julian Smith Casino, where many candidates spoke.

Augusta’s oldest political group made its preferences known Tuesday after a marathon session of more than 20 candidate speeches.

The Augusta-Richmond County Committee for Good Gov­ern­ment endorsed the incumbent in all local elections where the incumbent wasn’t term-limited, including District Attorney Ashley Wright, Richmond County Solicitor Chuck Evans, District 1 school board member Marion Barnes, District 8 school board member Jimmy Atkins, District 1 Commis­sioner Matt Aitken, state Sen. Jesse Stone and state Rep. Earnest Smith.

In the 94 ballots cast, the incumbent endorsements came by a wide margin in all but the District 1 school board race, which Barnes won by just three votes over Augusta businessman Lucien Williams, according to committee President Richard Isdell.

For posts with no incumbent, the committee overwhelmingly chose Freddie Sanders for sheriff, Carleton Vaughn for probate judge, Mary Davis for Augusta Commission District 3, Donnie Smith for Commission District 7 and Harold Jones for Commission Super District 9, according to Isdell, who was still counting ballots after 10 p.m.

Jones won by a landslide over former Commissioner Marion Williams, who garnered only eight votes.

Aitken raised the topic of the Augusta Convention Center in his speech, as several candidates did, but Aitken cast the new facility, also known as the TEE Center, as one that will draw millions in sales tax
dollars to downtown.

His competitor, Bill Fen­noy, criticized the center as a waste of money that doesn’t meet the needs of District 1, where buildings are dilapidated and residents must “wade in the water” when it rains and floods.

“These are the concerns of District 1,” Fennoy said.

He criticized commission moves to privatize Augusta Public Transit and Augusta Munic­ipal Golf Course.

Dis­trict 1 candidate Denice Traina said both leadership and management ought to be outsourced at the bus service to enhance a service that connects people with jobs.

Attorney Ed Enoch, seeking the District 3 seat, said his analytical skills could help the city address issues such as the uneven tax structure that has been in existence since consolidation.

Davis touted experience in fundraising and development for several Augusta education institutions.

“You can call me in the middle of the night,” said Smith, a state trooper. “I’ve met with everybody in county government, because I’m concerned.”

His opponent, retired hospital administrator Ken Echols, said he’d be governed by District 7 residents and would hold regular town hall meetings.

Evans said he has cut the state court budget and sped up cases, while his opponent, Kellie Kenner McIntyre, said she will be “the solicitor for all of Augusta.”

After turning in his ballot, west Augusta resident Charlie Coleman said he and his wife joined the Com­mittee for Good Govern­ment last year because it helps educate the public about its choices.

Coleman said he voted for Donnie Smith because he will bring “change” that’s needed in District 7.

The group has a high rate of predicting the winner in local elections, typically 85 percent to 90 percent, Isdell said.

“We have intelligent voters as a whole, who represent the entire district,” he said. “What­ever we’re doing here, they’re pushing out into the community.”

Ralph Walker, a political science professor emeritus at Augusta State University and a regular Good Government attendee, said the crowd that packed the Julian Smith Casino Barbecue Pit indicated how much the committee’s support means on Election Day.

“You see all the politicians showing up, so it must mean something,” Walker said.

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Techfan 10/10/12 - 04:56 am
"Aitken raised the topic of

"Aitken raised the topic of the Augusta Convention Center in his speech, as several candidates did, but Aitken cast the new facility, also known as the TEE Center, as one that will draw millions in sales tax dollars to downtown."

You can't argue with that. It's already brought around $60 million sales tax dollars downtown.

OpenCurtain 10/10/12 - 07:28 am
Would love to hear their comments

on why they picked Mr. Sanders over Mr. Roundtree.

It might open a few eyes to the reasonS Roundtree does not need to be Sheriff.

seenitB4 10/10/12 - 07:58 am
This jumped out to me too.....

For posts with no incumbent, the committee overwhelmingly chose Freddie Sanders for sheriff

OpenCurtain 10/10/12 - 09:12 am
There is an addendum to the on going Roundtree Issues story

I was waiting to see if the AC was going to run a very important story or not. Brought up at this meeting last night.

If, I understood correctly, a local radio talk show host was given another news story demonstrating Roundtree's inability to manage official LEO duties. It seems Roundtree has failed to re-certify his Law Enforcement Officers or the Board as a whole and not just recently either. If true, and initial indications are it is, none of the BOE LEO's have School System arrest powers. All the specials and etc. they do on the side may also be directly affected.

Believe me or not, I hope such a serious screw-up is not the case. Because it would mean a cake walk for a number of serious cases where students were arrested without a legal authority. Plus a loss of State & Federal Operational Funds (and refunds maybe).

Could we get the AC staff dig into this latest allegation?

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 10/10/12 - 09:31 am
Good Choice

I applaud the committee for selecting Donnie Smith for District 7 Commissioner.

Lakeside95 10/10/12 - 09:33 am
Good Government

I urge all interested voters in Richmond County to attend meetings of this group. The fact that they are not party affiliated means that you are granted the rare opportunity to meet with other concerned voters of Richmond County, even if they may not share your same party views.

It is well run, always a good meal and the endorsement that this group gives is one that is highly sought after and hard to win. These are smart, well versed voters. While I disagree with several of the endorsements made, I do agree that the endorsements were made after with care and thought.
It does speak volumes that the committee chose to endorse Sanders over Roundtree. If there is any major 'surprise' that endorsement is the October surprise.

kissofdeath 10/10/12 - 09:38 am
Democrats will win every

Democrats will win every local elected office in Richmond County on Nov.6

Insider Information
Insider Information 10/10/12 - 01:05 pm
Who cares?

Endorsements are meaningless.

It just becomes political fodder for the candidates and helps those who make endorsements feel relevant.

omnomnom 10/10/12 - 02:28 pm

or in Peebles' case, KAHBLOOIE

SemperParatus 10/10/12 - 05:36 pm
Better choice would have been

I think the group missed the boat by not endorsing Ken Echols for District 7 commissioner because he has business management experience, a badly needed expertise within the board of commissioners - now more than ever with the property tax issue taking shape.

slowpitch 10/11/12 - 01:38 pm
LL, why Donnie Smith?

I'm kinda shocked the committee endorsed Donnie Smith, and LL, I've seen you post before about "knowing Ken Echols, so I'll vote for Smith"...please educate us!

I was at a meeting where Smith repeatedly described himself as a "physical conservative" rather than fiscal conservative (he repeated this at several diff points in his presentation). Smith has a demanding, full time job. Maybe I'm out of line, but this leads me to question if Smith is really up to the task of being a strident advocate for dist 7.

Echols seems to be a very competent, good man. He supports the right things, ie demanding open meetings, no new taxes or fees, holding regular constituent meetings. He is recently retired and can devote a large amount of time to oversight--which we should all be happy about!

Please, LL, let us know specifically if there's something we're not hearing about Echols.

ginah1288 10/29/12 - 04:38 pm

I was under the assumption and I may be wrong, but an incumbant is an elected official. Chuck Evans was not elected he was appointed when Harold Jones left office. This in no way makes him suitable for the position over someone who knows this office inside and out, has worked as a victims advocate mainly who this office serves. I have been to this office on many occasions and what the staff is afraid to say I am not....This man treats his staff unfairly, he has his picks in this office and if you cant treat your staff fairly, how do you expect him to serve our community fairly? I know both candidates and I have done extensive checking to make a fair decision in this race and Kellie McIntyre is the best choice for the job.

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