His early years had spun completely out of control, with Aitken selling drugs and popping in and out of jail from age 12 to 29. But when the cold metal doors of prison pealed behind him at the start of a 15-year sentence, he was completely lost and then suddenly found.
“I became a Christian the night a former drug addict who now was Christian told me that we didn’t have to stay addicted and that there was hope and freedom in only one thing: Christ,” he writes on his Facebook page. “That night alone in my cell I gave my life to Christ. I have never been the same since.”
Today, Aitken is gainfully employed as a chemical operator at Olin, raising a beautiful young family, telling his story worldwide in prison ministries – and running for re-election to the Augusta Commission’s District 1 seat.
Matt Aitken deserves re-election in Tuesday’s runoff election.
He brings a gentility, positivity and color-blindness to a commission desperately in need of all three. And few politicians in this city’s post-consolidation era have enjoyed such widespread support across racial lines as Aitken has. Indeed, he is the first white commissioner elected to the majority-black district.
District 1 encompasses the bulk of downtown, with Harrisburg, Sand Hills, Laney-Walker/Bethlehem, east Augusta and parts of Country Club Hills and Summerville.
Mr. Aitken is a safe harbor in a political tempest, a steady demeanor and reliable vote for progress, unity and economic development. Perhaps because of his hard-won faith, and his hardscrabble youth, Aitken is absolutely impervious to the negative winds that too often swirl around him and his downtown district.
“He is a bridge-builder, a peacemaker and a man who is driven by his faith as opposed to the politics of the day,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver told us.
And we think it’s fair to say that that compliment is coming from someone who, himself, is a bridge-builder, a peacemaker and a man who is driven by his faith as opposed to the politics of the day.
Aitken has worked, often behind the scenes, to advance the Laney Walker/Bethlehem revitalization, as well as business district and east Augusta drainage issues – which he helped get moving. He works with the sheriff’s office on crime prevention and youth programs, and is present in all parts of a very diverse district.
His goals in a second term include increased housing downtown for professionals, working with the new sheriff on youth programs that are near and dear to his own heart, and economic development on the river.
Cities, like people, can be redeemed. Augusta needs the spirit of unity and cohesion that people like Matt Aitken can provide.
We urge voters in District 1 to unite for progress and re-elect Commissioner Matt Aitken.