Alvin Mason says experience on Augusta Commission would be asset if elected

Sunday, April 20, 2014 7:38 PM
Last updated 11:32 PM
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Two-term Commissioner Alvin Mason touts his experience on the sometimes-fractured Augusta Commission as an asset, not a liability, that he’ll bring into the mayor’s office if elected May 20.

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Augusta mayor candidate Alvin Mason said he is against the special purpose local option sales tax because it goes against what the state law recommends for the package.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Augusta mayor candidate Alvin Mason said he is against the special purpose local option sales tax because it goes against what the state law recommends for the package.

MEET THE CANDIDATES

Through Friday, The Augusta Chronicle will publish Q&As with the five Augusta mayoral candidates on the May 20 ballot. Answers by the candidates were edited for space.

TODAY: Alvin Mason

TUESDAY: Helen Blocker-Adams

WEDNESDAY: Charles Cummings

THURSDAY: Lori Myles

FRIDAY: Hardie Davis

In an interview with The Augusta Chronicle, Mason spoke about his commission tenure and what it’s taught him about the inner workings of city government, including issues he says exist with Augusta’s new special purpose local option sales tax, and powers inherent in the mayor’s office.

A native of Lansing, Mich., Mason started his military career in 1984 at Fort Gordon. Now a civilian in the post’s contract management office, Mason cited military experience, government work and commission experience as preparing him to be mayor of Augusta.

“In the U.S. Army, this is our definition of leadership: The art or ability of influencing others in such a manner as to obtain their willing obedience in order to accomplish the mission,” he said.

“I’ll tell you how important that is. When you talk about serving your country, we’ve got to communicate effectively, with real dialogue, bringing diverse groups together so we can come home and be with our families, instead of being viewed by our famlies ... across a casket or in a body bag. That’s how serious this is to me.”

Mason noted the recent arrivals of Costco, Cabela’s, Starbucks’ new soluble products plant and Rockwood Pigment as examples of success by the commission.

”I’m very proud in the last seven years we’ve had some of the most phenomenal growth that we’ve had in Augusta-Richmond, and I’m very, very proud of that, irrespective of the fact that sometimes there’s a perception that we’re divided.”

Q: You’re opposed to the special purpose local option sales tax, is that correct?

A: Yes sir I am; for several reasons. One ... is that state law says that what we’re doing right now with this particular time with the special purpose local option sales tax is not 100 percent legal... If you look at state law it says that the recommended way of putting a special purpose local option sales tax package together is to do it one year from the time of the expiration date of your current special purpose local option sales tax ...

(Having said that, Mason said he doesn’t want anyone to think) “he’s against art or he’s against curing cancer or he’s against helping our local institutions bring themselves up by the bootstraps” – nothing could be further from the case. The fact of the matter is that as a soldier and as an enforcer and a participant in laws, I try to just do what the law says …

Q: So if you’re elected mayor and the special purpose local option sales tax passes, do you then challenge it?

A: That’s a very good question and people (say) “You’ve got to be for it.” Well, no I don’t, because right now I’m the only one that sits in this position that is currently a commissioner of my district and I have to address the will of my district, then I’m running for a position. That means you’ve got to address the will of the entire city ... I’m caught between a rock and a hard place.

Q: You’ve said as mayor you’ll be CEO and enforcer of Augusta’s codes and ordinances. How would you go about doing that?

A: A priority, and it goes straight to the issues we have here in the community and these derelict homes, buildings and so forth, be it downtown, Harrisburg, Summerville, Olde Town, wherever. Not enforcing the laws, getting buildings up to code and off the books, that’s been a huge Achilles heel for this community.

One, we would have an assessment to make sure that people understand what their role in this government is ... So we’ve got to understand where the buck stops and who is responsible for what ... Once we’ve done that, we’re going to have weekly “come to Jesus” meetings as far as where we’re at and where we’re going.

Q: From your perspective does Augusta have an image issue? Since the mayor is really like the spokesperson, the face for the city and its cheerleader, what’s your style and how would you go about advocating for the city and controlling that image?

A: First and foremost, you can’t control something that you don’t have the authority to control, so I can’t control our image because that’s painted by so many external variables, to include news media, print media, neighborhood associations ...

So the question becomes how do we change the perception of how we’re viewed? The reality of the situation is we’re nowhere near what we’re perceived to be ... 90 percent or more of what we pass, we pass unanimously, 10 of us ...

But there are some things that cause us to take some spirited discussion in terms of agenda items. So at the end of the day I don’t control how we’re viewed. My personal belief (is) that there is a disconnect, and has been a disconnect for decades between the mayor’s office and the county commission. The county commission is your regulatory body and your governing body. The mayor’s office is, some people say, cheerleader, it’s much more than that but the mayor’s not the one that sets the policy and do those types of things ... The unique position that I find myself in, having been a county commissioner, is that I clearly understand what divides us and those things that we can agree upon.

Q: Would you be in favor of changing the charter and what would you change?

A: I’d be in favor of amending the charter. There are certain areas that to me need to be looked at ... For instance, our city administrator. I personally think it’s a problem that we have an administrator versus a city manager. An administrator by nature is there to administrate. In other words, he or she does not have hiring or firing authority over department heads and things like this.

Q: So make him a city administrator, city manager with hiring and firing authority?

A: I believe he ought to be a city manager... I believe that that would be appropriate for this type of government, especially if you’re going to have what’s considered to be a weak mayor position …

Myself personally, my professional opinion as far as a mayor needing veto power and all, I don’t think you need it to be effective. I don’t, because at the end of the day, and I forget who said it, absolute authority is not really a good thing to have ...

Q: Would you like for that charter to be changed so we do have a strong mayor rather than a weak mayor?

A: Here’s what I would advocate for – I would advocate for it to go on a referendum on a ballot. On a general election – not on one of these special called deals where you get special interest groups to come out and say yea or nay.

But on a general election, when the majority of folks are voting and say hey, would you like to see the government structure change in Augusta-Richmond County to a strong mayor – a strong mayor is one who has a vote and/or a veto – or would you like to see it change to a management form of government, a city manager versus an administrator, and let those that are responsible for our government to decide versus one person, or 10 people on the commission, or 7-8 state representatives.

Q: So at the end of the day, let’s assume you become mayor. How will you determine if you’ve been successful and what key performance indicators will you use during your mayorship to judge that?

A: I’d do an assessment of myself and say did I give my all to the job, was I as honest and forthcoming as I could possibly be, did I represent the will of the people, did I hit every communication possible, through communications and real dialogue to get people on one accord or at least to get people to agree to disagree ... If that answer is yes, then I believe I’ve done everything I can do.

ALVIN MASON

AGE: 51

BIRTHPLACE: Lansing, Mich.

EDUCATION: M.Ed, Troy University

WORK: Fort Gordon

MILITARY RANK: Retired Army Sergeant First Class

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Two terms on the Augusta Commission

FAMILY: Daughter, son, three granddaughters

Comments (23) Add comment
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Pops
10481
Points
Pops 04/20/14 - 08:02 pm
5
1
Wrong wrong wrong

"I can’t control our image because that’s painted by so many external variables, to include news media, print media, neighborhood associations ..."

The behavior of everyone in the community is responsible for the image that Augusta has.....the media only reports......

Butterman
3682
Points
Butterman 04/21/14 - 03:36 pm
4
4
Mason
Unpublished

is the one to vote for out of this bunch.

willie7
984
Points
willie7 04/20/14 - 11:02 pm
0
0
Yes, Mason has 7 years of
Unpublished

Yes, Mason has 7 years of experience---but it is poor experience.
He never has shown any leadership skills with the commission.
All the way with Davis-----he has had good relationship with the governor and other state officials which will be an asset for the city.

dichotomy
34468
Points
dichotomy 04/20/14 - 11:21 pm
6
2
The problem is that none of

The problem is that none of them are "the one". All I know about Mason for sure is that he took the skybox tickets and the "campaign" contributions from city contractors. Oh yeh, and that he asked for and received special treatment from the sheriff's department during the domestic incident, for which you and I would have been locked up for the weekend. And then there have been the times that he joined in with a couple of others to make an issue into racial payback thing. All the rest of his gibberish sounds just like the rest of them. The "one".....well, if you say so.....but I don't see it. I think I will keep looking. Maybe there isn't "one"....but there might be "one" with better ethics.

gargoyle
18644
Points
gargoyle 04/21/14 - 03:47 am
4
0
Under statment dichotomy

None of them are "the one". That should be the theme of this Mayoral race. Can we vote None of the Above and get a new set. Its said that no politician is perfect but this whole set have problems with creditability.

seenitB4
90862
Points
seenitB4 04/21/14 - 07:10 am
4
1
Is he The One....?

I can only say he made a good choice in his lawyer...Freddie Sanders.

dsterling9
982
Points
dsterling9 04/21/14 - 08:05 am
3
0
THE ONE?

During a discussion the question was raised as to what this candidate has done for Augusta during his time on the Commission and I could not think of a single thing. Like another commenter all I could think of were the bad things. This candidate is a good speaker but I am not sure what more. So far there is not one candidate deserving of my vote.

If this candidate wants to do anything he should put forth a STRONG recommendation that the SPLOST be removed from the ballot, reworked, and brought back at the appropriate time.

Riverman1
86989
Points
Riverman1 04/21/14 - 08:20 am
7
1
Message To Fit Audience

When they are before the east Augusta crowd they have to talk their way. When they are called before the 8 white men Chronicle editors, they have to emphasize the working together quotes.

I did notice Mason gave the first positive message I've heard so far from any candidate when he spoke of Commission accomplishments. At least Mason is playing the game well. We’ll have to see how Hardie Davis does before the white man.

story1
802
Points
story1 04/21/14 - 08:51 am
4
3
Mason is the best choice for Mayor...

Mason has clearly voiced his opposition to VII. Let the outside groups come up with their own money and let Splost take care of infrastructure. Augusta has the largest number of non-profit groups in the country. Wonder why....the local government keeps gifting these groups with no accounting requirements.

internationallyunknown
4465
Points
internationallyunknown 04/21/14 - 08:52 am
4
2
Im saddened by the

Im saddened by the pickings...

In the end, it will come down to Hardie and Alvin...

story1
802
Points
story1 04/21/14 - 08:53 am
3
2
Mason is the best choice for Mayor...

Mason has clearly voiced his opposition to VII. Let the outside groups come up with their own money and let Splost take care of infrastructure. Augusta has the largest number of non-profit groups in the country. Wonder why....the local government keeps gifting these groups with no accounting requirements.

mybaskett
231
Points
mybaskett 04/21/14 - 09:31 am
3
3
Not the on

He lost my vote when he said the Mayor's not responsible for the image of the city. He also spoke about splost and how it would affect his district, not the community as a whole. The commission has a reputation for voting down racial lines, Mason included. I want someone who will continue to bring in new businesses to the CSRA. Helen was my choice, but her message seems to be more about unity, we need growth and jobs. At this point my vote will go to Hardie Davis. Yes, he received donations for his campaign from people outside of Augusta, so what. Evidently he knows how to network. A strong network gets things done.

triscuit
3157
Points
triscuit 04/21/14 - 10:00 am
1
1
Isn't his ex-wife Tonia Mason

Isn't his ex-wife Tonia Mason the person the Board of Ed/Ga. Educators is investigating? Not that he should be held accountable for an ex-wife, but that kind of publicity can't help.?

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 04/21/14 - 10:12 am
2
2
After doing research on all candidates….

….as well as knowing the three front-runners personally, Mason has my vote.

Of the three, he is the only one with the "stones" to say what he means and mean what he says….no mealy mouthed "studies" or "symposiums"..
No catering to the "moneyed" interests in RC..

While not the perfect candidate, to me he is clearly preferable to the others…

Alvin Mason For Mayor!!!

dpatt.marine1
71
Points
dpatt.marine1 04/21/14 - 10:19 am
3
2
If you look at where the city

If you look at where the city is headed, Mr. Mason fits the bill for mayor almost perfectly. He is an outspoken person who commands the floor. The issue the mayor has now is he comes off as a soft hearted person, one who gets easily overrun, that won't be an issue for Mr. Mason. I also feel like his experience with being in the Army not to mention he works on base could be a huge avenue for attracting defense corporations to the city coupled with the Army Cyber Command. The man was a soldier, he knows how to talk to military talk and he understands what the military expect from the area. A strong voice, a large miltary background to serve as ambassador to the army for Augusta and not to mention experience as a commissioner makes him the perfect candidate for mayor, he just has so many attributes that the other candidates simply can not match.

This is just my opinion of course.

Spencer
281
Points
Spencer 04/21/14 - 10:40 am
1
1
@Riverman1 - There are two

@Riverman1 - There are two women around the table (one is white and the other is black or African American).

Riverman1
86989
Points
Riverman1 04/21/14 - 01:14 pm
1
0
Well, Spencer, I appreciate

Well, Spencer, I appreciate your correction, but it was still for the white audience that the Chronicle mainly represents (and there's nothing wrong with that) was my point, as you probably know. I suspect all of them you interview this week will be altering their message a bit.

dichotomy
34468
Points
dichotomy 04/21/14 - 02:54 pm
3
0
"Let the outside groups come

"Let the outside groups come up with their own money and let Splost take care of infrastructure."

I'll believe that is what Mason actually thinks when I hear him come straight out and say he would take the Paine cultural center out of the SPLOST.

"A strong voice, a large miltary background to serve as ambassador to the army for Augusta and not to mention experience as a commissioner makes him the perfect candidate for mayor, he just has so many attributes that the other candidates simply can not match."

True, he does have some experience. But let's not make him out to be some great draw for the military. I mean, he is a retired E-7, Sergeant First Class. It's not like he was a senior officer or even a Sergeant Major. And he works in the Contracting office as a civilian. He shuffles paper from the IN basket to the OUT basket. It's not like he has any influence in military matters at Fort Gordon. A mid level employee at best in both cases.

I readily admit that his experience as a commissioner COULD be a plus but as part of that experience HE TOOK THE SKYBOX TICKETS AND CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FROM CONTRACTORS DOING BUSINESS WITH THE CITY. That is something he could be fired or go to jail for if he did the same thing at his current Fort Gordon Contracting Office job. He KNEW BETTER. He KNEW he was doing something questionable because that is DRILLED into Army contracting officials. NO GIFTS, PERKS, OR GRATUITIES FROM CONTRACTORS OR POTENTIAL CONTRACTORS. So if you are telling me his experience working for the military is a plus, apparently the part about not taking perks and gratuities DID NOT STICK. It makes me question his judgment and/or his ethics. We've had enough bad ethics around here without consciously electing someone we already know does it. Yes, I know that what he did was not technically illegal and apparently there was no official ethics rules against taking stuff from city contractors......BUT THERE SHOULD BE .....and Mason, because of his Army contracting experience, SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER THAN TO DO IT.

I know many of you are on Alvin's band wagon and I concede he will probably be the next mayor. But for me, past performance IS an indicator of future performance and he has several things in his past that make me not trust him. But I'm sure he will be exactly the mayor that the people who elect him deserve.

Truth Matters
7163
Points
Truth Matters 04/21/14 - 03:23 pm
1
0
"All I know about Mason for

"All I know about Mason for sure is that he took the skybox tickets and the "campaign" contributions from city contractors."

Come on, now. You do know that he turned in a rouge lawyer who tried to offer him a position with the TEE CENTER, that was not his to offer. I still wonder who put that idea into that lawyer's head!

Maybe one day he will tell us.

Truth Matters
7163
Points
Truth Matters 04/21/14 - 03:30 pm
3
0
"Isn't his ex-wife Tonia

"Isn't his ex-wife Tonia Mason the person the Board of Ed/Ga. Educators is investigating? Not that he should be held accountable for an ex-wife,"

If you TRULY believe he should not be held accountable for his ex-wife, why did you raise the issue?

Butterman
3682
Points
Butterman 04/21/14 - 03:41 pm
3
1
Character assasination
Unpublished

I see that weekly tabloid rag is putting that crap out about his ex-wife and trying to connect him to it. I ask you all, would you want to be held accountable for everything your ex does after you became exes? maybe that is why they are exes in the first place.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 04/21/14 - 05:28 pm
1
0
Agree with Butter...

….at what point do you NOT become responsible for the actions of an "ex"…

Great avatar by the way Butterman!

AutumnLeaves
8461
Points
AutumnLeaves 04/21/14 - 05:51 pm
1
1
I'm confused, a poster with

I'm confused, a poster with screen name Spencer is saying there are two women running for mayor, one black and one white. I thought they are both black, but why does it matter either way? What matters is that we pick the person that is qualified best out of all the candidates. So far that is Helen Blocker-Adams as far as I have been able to determine. I will be examining all of the candidates closely all the way to the wire. But regarding malevolent political manipulation I've witnessed in the past: eleventh hour accusations against any candidate I ignore, since that doesn't give the candidate a fair chance for rebuttal.

akmoose
123
Points
akmoose 04/22/14 - 09:15 am
0
0
AutumnLeaves

No - both women are black, in fact Lori Myles says she's the founder of the local chapter of 100 Black Women of Augusta, yet she wants to bring unity...?????...that baffles me, since she's in an exclusive group.
I think they (Spencer) may have been referring to the reporters asking the questions, as his response was to Riverman saying it was 8 white men Chronicle editors.

As far as everyone's allusions to Alvin Mason's domestic case - if you knew the truth you wouldn't even mention it. And if you knew the strong women he surrounds himself with, including his lovely mother, you'd know that if he ever laid a hand on a woman he wouldn't be breathing today to even run for mayor.

AutumnLeaves
8461
Points
AutumnLeaves 04/22/14 - 12:09 pm
0
0
Thanks, akmoose, but just a

Thanks, akmoose, but just a note: I believe your answer to my post should read, (since you did reference my screen name in your answer), "Yes - both women are black" not "No - both women are black", since I stated: "I thought they are both black". Did you miss that line in my post? As far as Alvin Mason's domestic case, not everyone mentioned it. I didn't. I know his mother, although I haven't been in contact with her since she moved across the river. I'd be much more likely to vote for her as a candidate than him and it's based on meeting him and listening to him at various events in the past, not the domestic case. But she's not running. As far as who belongs to what organizations, I've talked at length about the long list of organizations that include the word "black" in them, in the past. I don't consider it a plus when someone belongs to them, nor would I if someone was in one that had the word white in it either. If I had heard this sort of thing would be going on in the future when I was a child, I would have not believed it. When will people learn this only further divides people? I don't believe Lori is the only candidate involved in groups with the word black in them, either, but I'll let someone else look into that, if someone is inclined to do so. (Maybe you?). We've got to keep listening, observing, and learning about these candidates.

akmoose
123
Points
akmoose 04/22/14 - 02:27 pm
0
0
Sorry - wasn't clear enough

I was trying to say that you were correct that they ARE both black...but also correct, it shouldn't matter either way.
Growing up where I did, race was never an issue or matter of concern, it wasn't until I moved here that it suddenly was. And if someone belongs to an exclusive group but feels they need to constantly profess trying to unify people, I don't feel that is fair and is kind of hypocritical.

His mother doesn't live across the river, she may have at one time but now she lives in South Augusta close to her family.

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