North Augustans interested in having a hand in building their community's "bridge to the 21st century" are encouraged to attend tomorrow's 7 p.m. candidates' forum at the Community Center.
It's even advisable to get there a half hour before official proceedings begin. The three mayoral hopefuls and six City Council aspirants are expected to mingle informally with early arrivals. Tomorrow's event is shaping up as the only chance voters have to see all the candidates together before the March 11 primary.
That GOP primary (not the general election) will decide the course of North Augusta's future, since no Democrats have filed for any of the posts. The collapse of a two-party system in the conservative community has, in essence, turned the Republican primary into a "non-partisan" election.
The city enters a new era at a time when two of its most experienced, respected leaders are stepping down - 12-year Mayor Tom Greene and longtime Councilman Bill Gray. They leave big shoes to fill.
Seeking to succeed Greene are 12-year Councilman Lark Jones, 6-year Councilwoman Carolyn Baggott and Dane Anderson, a native North Augustan with no experience in local government but who says he has "always wanted to be mayor."
Two City Council incumbents, Pat Carpenter and Phil Mottel, are running again and they're challenged by John Felak, Danny Geddes, Don Smith and Ken McDowell in the communitywide elections.
Though many issues face North Augusta, riverfront development and controlling video poker are two of the biggest. But whatever problems are on voters' minds, tomorrow's forum is the place for candidates to address them.