Campaign donations trickle in for Augusta Commission District 1 candidates

The candidates are the same, but the river of campaign cash that helped propel Matt Aitken to a runoff victory against Bill Fennoy three years ago has slowed.

Aitken, now the Augusta Commission incumbent defending his seat against a challenge by Fennoy, has raised just $4,240 since the Nov. 6 general election, according to campaign filings due last Friday.

The donations, including $1,500 from event promoter Lewis Blanchard, $200 from builder Rodger Giles, $1,000 each from retired banker Monty Osteen and developer Clay Boardman, and $450 from developer Braye Boardman, plus a handful of smaller contributions, left Aitken $8,548 on hand.

The report, filed Thursday, cited no expenditures.

By comparison, Aitken raised $18,478 during the same period three years ago.

Their second runoff hasn’t attracted the same cash for Fennoy, either. The retired health educator reported raising $2,300 during November, including $500 from International Formal Wear, owned by Development Authority of Richmond County Chairman Henry Ingram.

Fennoy’s largest donation was $750 from from Jim Moss, the director of PRM Consulting, a human resources consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

He also received $500 from lawyer Randy Frails, $200 each from physicians Calvin Hobbs and Andrew Bowman, and a $500 gift from health insurer Cigna.

Three years ago, Fennoy raised $7,755 during the same period. November expenses of more than $7,038 left the candidate with a negative campaign balance Friday of $4,738.

The closely watched runoff has the potential to restore to the commission what some in the community believe should be a racial balance – five black members and five white members.

Aitken, a white chemical plant worker with a prison ministry, surprised many when he won election in the 65 percent black District 1 in 2009.

Watching less closely, however, appear to be the 14,155 registered voters of District 1. Just under 3 percent of them had cast ballots during the eight days of advance voting preceding this Tuesday’s runoff.

Fennoy has been endorsed by former District 1 Commissioner Betty Beard and former mayoral candidate Lori Davis, while Aitken has the stated support of Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles and Commissioners Jerry Brigham and Wayne Guilfoyle, and accepted a $500 contribution from retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

“I’d feel more comfortable with the known, rather than the unknown, at this point,” Bowles said.

Others have taken a hands-off approach.

Commissioner Bill Lockett called any report that he was supporting Aitken “a blatant lie” and said he would never endorse any candidate in a nonpartisan election.

Commissioners Corey Johnson and Grady Smith and Sheriff-elect Richard Roundtree said they will work with whoever is elected.

“I am supporting the candidate that the citizens of District 1 choose to represent them,” Roundtree said.

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WHERE TO VOTE

Polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Tuesday’s District 1 Augusta Com­mission runoff. The polling locations are:

  • 101 Asbury United Methodist Church, 1305 Troupe St.
  • 102 Crawford Ave. Baptist Church, 507 Crawford Ave.
  • 103 Dyess Park, 902 James Brown Blvd.
  • 104 Eastview Recreation Center, 644 Aiken St.
  • 105 Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 1260 Wrightsboro Road.
  • 106 Julian Smith Casino, 2200 Broad St.
  • 107 Julian Smith Casino, 2200 Broad St.
  • 108 Covenant Presbyterian Church, 3131 Walton Way
  • 109 May Park, 708 Fourth St.
  • 110 Peabody Apartments, 1425 Walton Way
  • 111 Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel, Paine College, 1235 Druid Park Ave.
  • 112 St. John Towers, 724 Greene St.
  • 113 W.T. Johnson, 1612 Hunter St.
  • 114 Bernie Ward Community Center, 1925 Lumpkin Road
  • 115 Southside Baptist Church, 3612 Mike Padgett Highway
Check your polling location and download a sample ballot

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