If only Ben Hasan and Bob Finnegan didn’t have to run against each other. Otherwise, The Augusta Chronicle would have endorsed them both.
This community would be fortunate to have both of these gentlemen serving on the Augusta Commission, but it is Hasan who will have the distinction of representing District 6 after Tuesday’s runoff election, which he won by a 5 percent margin.
The 60-year-old Augusta native ran a dignified campaign throughout the election season, where he was the top vote-getter in the May 20 election. And he boasted the biggest war chest, and won strong support from a law enforcement political action committee.
Finnegan, a Fort Gordon retiree and former chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party, has been a tireless activist for south Augusta since moving to the area more than 30 years ago. He has a big heart, and we hope he remains active in civic affairs for years to come.
Expect good things out of the winner as well. Hasan possesses a unique combination of street smarts, civility and class, attributes that should help him be the “consensus builder” that he said he wants to be on the sometimes-fractured Augusta Commission.
His learning curve should be a short one – his position as publisher of an African-American community newspaper makes him keenly aware of how business is conducted at City Hall. In fact, Hasan’s attendance record at commission meetings quite possibly exceeds that of some sitting commissioners.
There has been much speculation about Hasan’s win tipping the racial balance of the 10-member commission toward African-Americans, who make up more than 55 percent of Richmond County residents. When Hasan’s term begins, six of the 10 commissioners and the mayor will be black.
It’s significant to note that African-Americans have never had higher representation in the post-consolidated city government, which also includes the first black Richmond County sheriff.
But from what we can tell about Hasan, he can be counted on to vote his conscience. And that’s the best you can hope for out of any elected official,
regardless of race.
We truly wish him the best.