Q&A with Augusta mayoral candidate Hardie Davis

Thursday, April 24, 2014 6:13 PM
Last updated Friday, April 25, 2014 1:59 AM
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An engineer, pastor and for seven years a state legislator, Sen. Hardie Davis says he’ll bring legislative experience and the ability to compromise to city government if elected mayor May 20.

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Augusta mayoral candidate Hardie Davis discusses his support of the penny sales tax, how he would raise the bar on education and stepping down as a state lawmaker.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Augusta mayoral candidate Hardie Davis discusses his support of the penny sales tax, how he would raise the bar on education and stepping down as a state lawmaker.

“I have already developed the reputation as someone who is willing to work with anyone; someone who is willing to get involved in the issues that matter to the state of Georgia and ultimately to Augusta,” Davis said during an interview with The Augusta Chronicle, citing legislative success in juvenile justice, the Transportation Investment Act, vehicle ad valorem tax reform and the merger of Augusta’s two universities.

“I’ve been willing to work across aisles and get things done that matter to this community, and do things in a transformative way that help people,” he said.

Q: Consolidation of Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta State University upset a great number of people. If you had been university president, what would you do differently?

A: There are a lot of people who were upset, primarily about the naming of the institution. When people look at the enterprise that's been created and … what its long-term impact will be to this community and ultimately to the state of Georgia, people are going to be pleased, and they are pleased with that.

Had I been in the unique position of president, I would have done more to engage the citizens of this community up front, in terms of what we want the university to look like in Augusta, but also in what we see Georgia Regents University being to the world.

Q: There are still some folks in Augusta convinced that Athens and the Board of Regents are going to steal the medical college eventually and relocate it there.

A: I think we've averted that. When you look at the fact that we've now created the state's fourth major research institution ... Our former senator, now U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, led the charge to make sure that we stood strong against that idea of siphoning off resources here in Augusta and taking them to Athens...

I am confident that the consolidation takes us from what historically were viewed as two community colleges – these are conversations I’ve heard all across the legislature – and we've now created an institution that folks look for an opportunity to invest in.

Q: How will you use your office to raise the bar for educational systems – the high schools, the elementary schools – so our students are able to take advantage of the opportunities at GRU?

A: One of the things that I look forward to doing first is strengthening the partnerships between the mayor's office, the commission and the school board...

Here again, as an engineer, as someone who's had advanced degrees, advanced education, it is vitally important for us to one, deal with the dropout rate in our school system, and then deal with the graduation rate by providing our students with opportunities.

Q: City government has been described as dysfunctional; what could you do about that, given the limitations of the office as mayor?

A: When you look at how our local government has operated, there have certainly been moments of dysfunction. I come from a legislature where we don't fight; we don't publicly embarrass employees; we don't do things like that on the floor of the legislature.

Most of the heavy lifting that goes on from a government standpoint should happen in the committee process. I am not convinced that the committees are being utilized as they should be...

People talk about, well the mayor doesn't have any power. I think that is a divisive statement in and of itself, where people hover around the pendulum of this notion of power when in reality what we look for is shared responsibility. At the end of the day, the buck should stop with the mayor the mayor is the CEO of this great city.

Q: What makes you want to go from being a state lawmaker to Augusta mayor?

A: My reason for running is a very simple reason. When I've come to this community, I've listened to the senior citizens, I've listened to the young families, I've listened to the students in our schools who said, “Sen. Davis we have no hope for what's going on in our community. We're tired of the dysfunction. We see the fighting, we see the divisiveness along the lines of race.”

And we spend so much of our time majoring in the minors. As I’ve looked at those things... When I left Augusta and went to the legislature I was very clear I said I did not want to ... become a career politician and serve 20, 30, 40 years in Atlanta. I have no interest in that.

Q: If we look back on your tenure as mayor, what three things will we say were the mark of your term?

A: In our first term, in fact, in our first 100 days, in what we call our Move Augusta strategy, we’ll bring key stakeholders to the table. Freight, transport and rail. I would like Augusta to become the state's second inland logistics port.

Cordele was the first inland port as a result of the planned Savannah Harbor expansion project. As we talk about widening the Panama Canal and the Panamax ships coming in the U.S., Augusta is uniquely situated to become an inland logistics port...

The second thing that we look forward to doing is looking for opportunity to promote accountability and transparency where government is concerned... As the next mayor of Augusta, I'll look forward to having regular mayor's office hours in the districts.

Q: Do you support special purpose local option sales tax 7?

A: Yes I do. I support the special purpose local option sales tax for this reason... it is an opportunity to enhance the quality of life for all of our citizens in this county. I support the special purpose local option sales tax because it is an opportunity for us to have others come to this community and invest in this city as well without it being a new tax on our citizens.

I support the special purpose local option sales tax because there are in fact some good projects in there that allow us to do the things I've talked about in terms of public safety. There are projects in there that allow our sheriff to be more in depth in terms of community policing...

Q: What is your opinion of Augusta Regional Collaboration Project's Mills Campus proposal?

A: There's a lot of interest in the mills campus. As the next mayor of Augusta, I want to see private investment to the table first. Government has a role in these projects; government has a role in growing our city. But until we bring private investment to the table, we're going to put an undue burden on local government...

Q: You stated in a recent forum that the city didn't need a bully; it needed a statesman, which was basically a dig at Alvin Mason. Can you elaborate?

A: The comment ... was in direct correlation to how individuals operate currently as a commissioner. You can't take city employees and publicly humiliate them or embarrass them on the floor of the commission. It is unprofessional, it is uncalled for. That is not diplomacy. That is not how we engage.

Q: What did you think about how the firing of Fred Russell was handled?

A: Again, that was a situation where it had been discussed for years... Clearly, it was on the minds of commissioners, because not only did they have a majority to vote for the firing and dismissal of Fred Russell, but also it was across racial lines.

While all of that's true, it could have and should have been handled differently. It was another moment of “gotcha,” of public embarrassment for our city, for our employees and certainly as it relates to Fred Russell.

HARDIE DAVIS

AGE: 45

BIRTHPLACE: Macon

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Georgia Tech; Doctor of Ministry, Christian Life School of Theology

WORK: Senior pastor, Abundant Life Worship Center; senator

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Three years; Georgia House of Representatives; five years, state Senate

FAMILY: Married; one son

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catfish20
294
Points
catfish20 04/24/14 - 07:00 pm
9
3
I rest my case

How can anyone after this series of questions and answers come to ANY conclusion other than Mr. Hardie Davis is the most qualified candidate to lead the city of Augusta.

By qualifications.
By experience.
By knowing how to treat people.
By having some realistic and objective ideas about how to move our city forward.

Your Choices:

A bully.
A "club" owner
A person whose job is ??????
and
An "actress"

or A Statesman who we can all be proud is our Mayor.

I don't agree with Hardie on everything but, Please this race should not even go to a runoff....anyone who cannot pick the most qualified candidate in this group is voting for a reason other than what is best for our city....IMHO

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/24/14 - 07:08 pm
6
8
PRO SPLOST = No Vote
Unpublished

What has Hardie davis done in The Senate? Absolutely nothing, unless you count allowing Georgia Power to raise your power bill so they can get advanced profits on Plant Vogtle. Voting to exempt industry from paying sales tax on energy, thus leaving Augusta i a $3 million financial hole that will be born by the average Joe paying property and sales taxes. He is for more SPLOST and even said he thought property taxes are too low in Richmond County. How can your pocketbook afford more Hardie Davis? He is out of touch, and been silent on most of the major issues affecting Augusta over the past 4 years. 80% of his campaign contributions have come from outside his district. Vote No to SPLOST and NO to Hardie on may 20th.

Riverman1
94273
Points
Riverman1 04/24/14 - 07:20 pm
7
2
ARCP

Q: What is your opinion of Augusta Regional Collaboration Project's Mills Campus proposal?

It appears Davis is not happy with the ARCP either. I don’t know of any public official other than Deke who supports the $5.25 million being given to Matt K without any oversight. I’m delighted the Chronicle brought this up with Davis. When Deke did his ramrodding at the SPLOST handouts meeting a majority of the Commissioners present had to have agreed to give the $5.25 million to Matt K. I wish the Chronicle would publish who raised their hand at that meeting when Deke brought up this tarnished give-away.

Riverman1
94273
Points
Riverman1 04/24/14 - 07:46 pm
8
2
Is There A Video?

Where is the video of this interview since one was provided for each of the interviews with the other candidates? I’m simply curious if Davis is so well spoken he didn’t make any obvious grammatical errors. It may be the quotes are verbatim, but, like I said, I’m curious. I noticed with the other candidates grammatical mistakes were printed.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/24/14 - 07:48 pm
4
6
Riverman
Unpublished

The $5.25 million going into the black hole that is the ARCP run by Matt K is enough justification to expose this SPLOST. First of all there is no rush to ram this through on May 20th. This could have waited till November, when enough time would have allowed for a sensible SPLOST package with more citizen involvement could be have put assembled. As a state legislator, Davis should know this. He should also know that under state law, SPLOST money should not be going to vague entities like the ARCP and their vague mills projects.. no one knows how this money will be spent. But Davis is on record supporting this SPLOST.. so it seems like he is talking out of both sides of his mouth here. Georgia desperately needs reform of the SPLOST law. As a legislator, Davis could have introduced a bill to do that. Instead he sat on his duff and did nothing.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/24/14 - 07:52 pm
7
4
Riverman
Unpublished

It should be obvious that Billy is backing Hardie in this race. He gave him the final spot in these Q&As.. and have you seen one negative story or even a rant against Hardie in this paper? The Cabal has spoken. I wonder if Helen feels like the prom date who was stood up?

dichotomy
37626
Points
dichotomy 04/25/14 - 07:49 am
5
2
Well, I oppose this SPLOST

Well, I oppose this SPLOST but only because of the PRIVATE organizations. I also do not like that he has talked about property taxes being low.

Having said that, his answers to these questions were articulate and made more sense that all of the rest of them put together.

He only gets one citizen vote on the SPLOST like everyone else so how he feels about SPLOST doesn't bother me. I disagree with him about our property taxes. But at least I don't think he would be a total embarrassment like the rest of them. The rest of them have that "the more I talk the less educated I sound and if you ask me something I wasn't expecting I just start spouting words that don't even go together" syndrome. At least Hardie Davis can spit out proper sentences. How refreshing.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/24/14 - 09:04 pm
3
7
Dichotomy.. you obviously do
Unpublished

Dichotomy.. you obviously do not know his record in the Senate.. but I guess a smooth talking politician will win you over everytime.. And we wonder why this place is screwed. Btw, when You all in South Augusta get your property taxes raised again to pay for one of Billy and Paul's boondoggles.. don't come complaining here.

SHEILA C NELSON
32
Points
SHEILA C NELSON 04/24/14 - 09:27 pm
4
4
Hardie Davis for Mayor

I have only attended one Mayoral forum and was convinced that the
most educated and qualified candidate is Hardie Davis. At the end of the forum, I waited patiently to meet and introduce myself to Mr. Davis. I told him how knowledgeable and professional he was and that he could count on my vote. Now I am asking all concerned voters to make sure they join me in supporting and voting for Hardie Davis to be the next Mayor of Augusta, Georgia.

internationallyunknown
5073
Points
internationallyunknown 04/24/14 - 10:08 pm
4
1
The next mayor will be

(Wherever) His largest donations came from...

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/25/14 - 12:22 am
4
6
Smooth Talkin'
Unpublished

Yeah, The Cabal has figured out how to bamboozle you voters on the Southside. Hardie Davis has made it perfectly clear he is for what most of the Southside is against: Higher property taxes.. more of your tax dollars flowing to downtown boondoggles... pork laden SPLOSTs giving more to the downtown robber barons with diddly squat for the Southside.. more TADs and overlays.. If the Southside wants to stop being treated like the red-headed stepchild of the county, you might want to start opening your eyes and see when you are being played like a fool by The Cabal by voting against your own interests and for theirs. They are playing you all like a fiddle.

GnipGnop
12748
Points
GnipGnop 04/25/14 - 12:37 am
6
2
Then why are you for SPLOST???

There's a lot of interest in the mills campus. As the next mayor of Augusta, I want to see private investment to the table first. If you are for SPLOST then this is a lie. If you are for SPLOST then you are for pork!!!

Riverman1
94273
Points
Riverman1 04/25/14 - 03:31 am
3
1
Video Is Up Now

I see the video is up now in regards to my earlier question. I must say he comes across very well.

corgimom
38749
Points
corgimom 04/25/14 - 04:20 am
2
2
Where is all this interest in

Where is all this interest in the mills? Who is interested?

All we've heard about is GRU, who has stated that they are NOT interested.

If people are so interested in the mills, then a private developer would be on top of it immediately. They aren't. They are in business to make money, and if there was interest, they would.

The private developers aren't interested in the slightest.

What does that tell you?

Riverman1
94273
Points
Riverman1 04/25/14 - 06:08 am
4
1
Fort Discovery???

Matt K is also the one who kept saying some big concern was about to bring hundreds of office workers to the empty Fort Discovery. Heck, I've been hearing Fort Discovery was about to have a major tenant since before construction of the TEE Center was approved. Joe Bowles said it would only be a few weeks way back then and that's why it couldn't be renovated as a convention center.

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 04/25/14 - 06:51 am
2
7
Mayor

Hardie Davis is easily the best choice for mayor.

Why did the chancellor include the Mills Campus into the Master Plan if GRU wasn't interested? The redevelopment of the mills might have to move forward without GRU in the future, but they are clearly interested...

The private company Pani-Solar wants to build solar panels on the site(Mills Campus) and pay the city of Augusta rent.. The residents in Richmond County will have to wait for another 15-20 years for the Regency Mall or Sibley Mill to be developed 100% with private money.

The company Medac was coming to Fort Discovery but something else will replace the company in the future.

Riverman1
94273
Points
Riverman1 04/25/14 - 07:01 am
4
1
Ya Think?

"The redevelopment of the mills might have to move forward without GRU in the future..."

Ya think? They listed the mills as their third and last option. They announced their focus would be to consolidate the schools around the medical campus. But that's pie in the sky talk, too. There's no way that can be done.

Riverman1
94273
Points
Riverman1 04/25/14 - 07:09 am
5
3
Big Change With Next Mayor

Let's use Davis as an example and consider what will happen with a black mayor. It's unlikely white commissioners will use the abstention or walk-out practices to defeat proposals they are against. The whites spoke critically of the blacks employing these moves in the past. That's going to mean Davis will have the controlling vote in 5-5 deadlocks. That's also going to mean a black controlled commission and significant changes could be coming. The transformation to a black controlled government is almost complete in Richmond County.

seenitB4
98611
Points
seenitB4 04/25/14 - 07:10 am
2
1
moments of dysfunction.

Heh...that was a smooth answer....I like most of his statements....maybe he is the ONE! Maybe.

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 04/25/14 - 08:03 am
1
4
Facts

''Ya think? They listed the mills as their third and last option. They announced their focus would be to consolidate the schools around the medical campus. But that's pie in the sky talk, too. There's no way that can be done.''

The Sasaki De­velopment Assessment Strat­egy and the comprehensive Master plan are two different things..

The master plan(GGHF site, 15th street/Kroger, Mills campus, etc) hasn't even been released to the public yet...

dichotomy
37626
Points
dichotomy 04/25/14 - 08:21 am
3
1
"Dichotomy.. you obviously do

"Dichotomy.. you obviously do not know his record in the Senate"

I did not say I endorse him or that I would even vote for him. I merely commented that his answers to questions were articulate and at least made sense, showed some thought, and were spoken in proper English. I guess I am still looking for a candidate that seems reasonable, won't jump on the racial bandwagon at every opportunity, won't take the skybox tickets, and won't push his wife around. In other words, won't be overtly racist and an embarrassment and have questionable ethics GOING IN.

I have no doubt that Hardie Davis is backed by the cabal and yes, that makes me nervous about him. Like I said before, I do not think we have a good candidate in the whole lot. But Hardie Davis is definitely the most polished, articulate candidate and APPARENTLY has kept his nose clean while serving in public office. That's not an endorsement, merely a comment.

grinder48
2059
Points
grinder48 04/25/14 - 08:25 am
0
1
No Davis Because of SPLOST
Unpublished

I'd support Davis except for his being pro-SPLOST. I don't even mind SPLOST so much as the particular SPLOST on the table. Why should tax $ support private organizations? Under the circumstances, I can't vote for Davis. I wish he'd listen to the people and change his position on this SPLOST.

dsterling9
1255
Points
dsterling9 04/25/14 - 08:33 am
3
2
LOSERS ALL

At this point there is not one candidate deserving of my vote. Sure one of them is against the SPLOST but this is not enough. All the other supporting the illegal SPLOST are misguided. Yes, the SPLOST is on the ballot and each candidate has only one vote for or against it; however, supporting such giveaways publicly shows where loyalties fall.

I do hope the next mayor will take time to review the job requirements and Robert's Rules of Order for commission meetings.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/25/14 - 08:57 am
6
3
Cman's endorsement
Unpublished

There ya go folks, Hardie Davis has Cman's ringing endorsement. If there was not a better reason to vote for someone else, I can't think of one.

GeorgiaCarolina
242
Points
GeorgiaCarolina 04/25/14 - 09:05 am
4
1
Meeting Tonight

Attention:

There will be a The Cabal Meeting/Cocktail party tonight at 11:30 PM in Magnolia Cemetery. Please remember your new The Cabal handshake, if you do not know the secret handshake you will not be admitted. We will be serving cocktails starting promptly at 11:30 and will also have our new The Cabal t-shirts available. We will be be doing our normal animal sacrifice at 12:30. Oh what fun, I think one of our The Cabal members as acquired a young goat we will be sacrificing tonight.

We encourage everyone to wear your The Cabal t-shirts around town between now and the election. Please try to stand near any of the mayoral candidates every opportunity you can get while wearing your The Cabal t-shirt so we can keep the confusion going as to who we are supporting.

That is all. See you tonight shugs.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 04/25/14 - 10:03 am
4
1
Education

The panel that did the interviews included a question about public education. They asked how they mayor would "raise the bar" for public education.

Well, excuse me, but we are a society with separation of powers. We do not elect a mayor to run the school system. I say the mayor should not meddle in public education. He should provide good roads for the children to get to school, and that is about it.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/25/14 - 11:33 am
3
3
Exactly Lamb
Unpublished

what does raising the bar for education have to do with the mayor's race? The mayor has no control over the school board. This question was simply asked so that Davis could launch into some of his rehearsed rhetoric. It is interesting that the Chronicle neglected to ask Mr. Davis about his votes in the state Senate.. specifically on allowing Georgia Power to front charge profits to customers which has had the net affect of raising power bills around 7% including the Tsplost. Speaking of TSPLOST... Davis voted for that too, which gave away $65 million in revenue collected in Richmond County to other counties and made sales taxes in ARC some of the highest in the country. No wonder Tsplost revenues have been way below projections, as residents drive across the river to low tax SC to do their shopping. Then let us not forget Hardie's vote to exempt industry from paying sales tax on energy. This has particularly hit ARC hard.. taking $3 million out of the budget annually that will have to be made up with either drastic cuts or raising property taxes. It's one thing to take away the state portion of the energy tax.. but Hardie voted to take away the local portion too.. without even consulting with local officials to understand the fiscal ramifications this would cause. Now we know. This is the record folks.. you can be impressed with his smooth talk all you want.. but the record is what matters and Hardie's record as a legislator stinks. Oh and for you all concerned about abstentions, Hardie was one of the only members in the state legislature to abstain on a gun rights bill. Gave no reason why.. I guess because it was controversial. Is this what we can expect from him as mayor? To do another Deke and disappear to the beach with cell phone turned off when any controversy arises? Notice the pattern of him not voting on almost every bill involving gun rights or abortion.
Here is Hardie's voting record in the state Senate courtesy of Project Vote Smart:
https://votesmart.org/candidate/66319/hardie-davis?categoryId=&type=V,S,...

Just The Truth
23
Points
Just The Truth 04/25/14 - 12:54 pm
0
4
Best candidate and tax method

Mr Davis is by far the best candidate for the position of Mayor, you would be wise to elect him. As far as taxes go, the penny on the dollar is the best way to pay for these much needed projects. That way everyone that comes here and uses our infrastructure, our services, our everything chips in to pay for it. The more is spent the more tax is paid,it is fair for all and not just he local folks to cover it. Don't be fooled and think it can be done without it or you (local only) will be paying for it. Let the visitors to our area that enjoy the use, help pay for it. Vote for SPLOST!

Lori Davis
1006
Points
Lori Davis 04/25/14 - 02:04 pm
4
0
Shocked

I am shocked that Senator Davis who is a state law maker is for this illegal SPLOST. This tells me a lot about the man. He has not read the law. Yes, he is articulate and extremely personable, however, none of this negates the fact that many projects on this SPLOST 7 are illegal based on state law, and he is supporting it. Why should we go any further until the law is met? Then Lori Myles states that not having public meetings is the way we have always done it. WOW! just WOW! I am not against SPLOST because as the "Just the Truth," stated, everybody pays the tax. Local and otherwise. Agreed! Just tell me how to get around breaking the law and then I might be OK with it. NOT! I guess Lori Myles would add that this is the way it has always been done. This may be the case, but the citizens of Richmond County are tired of this, and I think it is showing in this new SPLOST. Let's get the thing right and legal before it ends up on a ballot! Senator Davis of all people should be leading THIS charge. OCGA 48-8-110,111. Please Google this and take time to read, especially Senator Davis.

Conservative Man
5578
Points
Conservative Man 04/25/14 - 02:50 pm
2
0
Agree with Ms. Davis…..

…..Hardie is clearly a polished candidate, but as a legislator he should know the law…

And in this case he has missed the boat.

For me, the very reason that he supports SPLOST VII means he will NOT get my vote…

…Of the five candidates three will prove to be nothing but "spoilers" who will force a run-off between Mason and Davis..

I personally know the three front runners for the job and Alvin Mason is no more a bully than any of the others…What he IS is a man who is not afraid to call out those who are NOT doing their jobs …something that has been sorely lacking in the Mayor's office for years!!…

I've also heard Alvin speak many times..and EVERY time he espouses ideals that are conservative…Fiscal responsibility, adherence to code and law, transparency, accountability…AND he is against yet another attempt of the government to put their hands further into MY pocket...

Augusta-Richmond Co.does NOT need a "facilitator" or a failed night club owner, or an educator who has trouble putting sentences together…and CERTAINLY not a "polished " candidate who is on board with policies and practices that are borderline against state law….simply put..we don't need MORE of what we've had the last eight years….I submit Hardie will be just that…more of the same….

In a run-off sadly , it may ultimately come down to who has the bigger war chest..which judging by recently released campaign donation totals, the "elitist" candidate might win, but the average citizen of Augusta will most certainly lose….yet again!..
Alvin Mason for Mayor!!

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