We met Augusta Tile Crafters owner Wayne Guilfoyle recently. And like his customers, we were floored.
In a District 8 Augusta Commission race with several suitable candidates, we find Wayne Guilfoyle to be head and shoulders above the competition.
He's got his fingers on the pulse of not just the business world and all its rigors -- with special insights on the condition of the housing market -- but also a section of south Augusta-Richmond County that feels neglected and underrepresented.
Enter Wayne Guilfoyle.
The roads have yet to be paved as promised, the drainage still a problem in Goshen and a house where no fire hydrants were available had to be allowed to burn to the ground, he says -- promising to see such problems through.
Goshen residents, who remember all too well the city's aborted plans to force an affordable housing development on them, have endorsed Guilfoyle to protect their interests at City Hall.
Guilfoyle also says the state needs to be convinced to deal with a "death trap" on Highway 56, where school buses are crossing a 55-mph roadway with no traffic light at Country Place. He also says logging trucks and the like need to be rerouted away from there.
None of this means breaking the bank account: As a business owner, Guilfoyle knows the value of a dollar -- especially someone else's.
Moreover, he's a listener -- the type of boss, for instance, who asks employees for cost- cutting measures in tough times. He'll do the same with constituents and city department heads.
Guilfoyle says the nepotism and favoritism in city hiring have to stop -- and one way is to make department heads accountable to one person: the city administrator. Currently, department heads can't be fired except by six commissioners, which does nothing but perpetuate political cronyism.
As a businessman, Guilfoyle has run into the difficulty of dealing with such things as building inspections, which he said have taken an inordinate amount of time in the past. And to get a septic tank approved, you have to go to three places. We trust he can help fix that.
His competitors for the District 8 seat are fine men and, indeed, have pledged to support and help the eventual winner. But it's important to note one facet of the competition: Candidate Doug Lively has recommended that "disincentives" -- fines, essentially -- be levied on south Augusta businesses that close -- even after we offer incentives for businesses to locate there. Come again? What business would choose to locate in a city that basically holds them hostage by fining them for leaving?
Such a cockamamie idea would never pass muster with the other commissioners, but its lack of sophisticated thinking is frankly alarming.
Wayne Guilfoyle has our complete confidence. He is erudite and polished, yet earthy and brimming with common sense. He'll be a great advocate.
Even in a four-person race, the choice is clear: We urge District 8 voters to elect Wayne Guilfoyle to the Augusta Commission.