New commissioners Mary Davis in District 3 and Donnie Smith in District 7 will add voices of calm, reason and camaraderie to a post-consolidation commission that has never seen an excess of any of those qualities.
But in Super District 9, voters inexplicably returned Marion Williams, after his inglorious past service in District 2 from 2000-07, when, as one local media outlet put it, Williams became “the living symbol of commission bickering, infighting, and gridlock.”
Williams may have returned through name recognition alone; a Chronicle story recently called him “probably one of Augusta’s most recognizable politicians.” His opponent, Harold Jones, is not nearly as well known, though he was formerly the county’s solicitor-general.
Williams promised he hasn’t mellowed – a clear signal he will attempt to drag the commission and the city into unproductive contretemps once again. In fact, he seems to view his election as a mandate to do exactly that.
“The people elected me last night; they asked me to run again,” he said Wednesday. “They know what Marion Williams is all about and they chose to do that.
“I’ve been like this all of my life.”
“They’re going to argue over useless stuff, more than they do now,” term-limited and outgoing District 7 Commissioner Jerry Brigham said after Williams’ ascension. “I think Augusta is heading toward a rough spot politically.”
That’s like saying Sisyphus has a rock to push. Been there, done that.
Still, one observer told us Williams may be less likely to create turmoil on this edition of the commission. And, indeed, Commissioner-elect Smith has already reached out to Williams to find common ground.
“I think he comes back to a completely different commission,” the observer said of Williams.
We hope so, anyway.
Pray the good feelings among the other commissioners cancel out any attempt to go back to the bad old days.