Augusta mayoral candidate Helen Blocker-Adams suspended her mayoral campaign Thursday amid reports of debts unpaid for years and other financial difficulties.
“These last few days have been hard and humiliating,” she said, reading from a prepared statement during a news conference at her Eighth Street campaign headquarters. “It has shown me that I have to work on me and especially my financial challenges. I take full responsibility for the debt and for my mistakes.”
Flanked by members of her campaign team, Blocker-Adams spoke for less than two minutes, grew tearful then walked out and drove away.
Despite the announcement, Blocker-Adams did not file the formal affidavit necessary to remove herself from the election Thursday, Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said.
If she does, the office will post notices at all polling places that votes cast for Blocker-Adams won’t count, and all votes for her – including any of nearly 5,000 cast early as of Thursday – will be considered null and void. Without the formal withdrawal, however, the votes would remain viable.
At the news conference, Blocker-Adams and her campaign manager, Pam Wilkins, said no one besides Blocker-Adams was aware of the debts, three court judgments exceeding $70,000 from Aiken County that dated back to the 1990s. Tuesday, Blocker-Adams said a lack of recent correspondence from creditors led her to believe she’d paid them off.
“I failed to let my campaign team and family know about any of the personal financial details in my life and I regret that. If my executive team knew what they know now, they would have advised me not to run for mayor,” she said Thursday.
“I have always been an independent person and felt I could get things done by myself. As a woman who knows and loves the Lord, I realize that is pride and he has revealed that to me over the past few days,” she said.
After attempting to explain the unpaid debts as typical for most Augustans, and arising from a dark period of her life when she’d gotten divorced, had a miscarriage and been saddled with a bad loan, on Wednesday more reports surfaced of Blocker-Adams being served more than 40 times with eviction or dispossessory notices between 2007 and 2013.
Blocker-Adams offered no further explanation other than her comments at the news conference.
“I know I have let many people down and I am deeply sorry for that. I ask for your forgiveness,” she said. “The love and support from this community has been overwhelming. Effective immediately, I am suspending my campaign and run for mayor.”
Wilkins called Blocker-Adams her “sister in Christ” and said the campaign team would have stood by her regardless of Blocker-Adams’ decision.