Originally created 01/30/98

Kuhlke says no to mayor's race



Augusta Commissioner Bill Kuhlke pulled out of the mayor's race Thursday, putting the pressure on two potential candidates who were waiting to see what he would do before making up their minds about running.

One of them, former Augusta Commissioner Rob Zetterberg, has been sweating it out since Mr. Kuhlke told him he wouldn't run.

"Frankly, I've been wrestling with it for about three days now," Mr. Zetterberg said. "I am seriously considering it. I think there is a tremendous opportunity, and I am very interested in the job."

There is one thing keeping him on the fence for now though.

`There are some business obstacles I need to overcome, and I will be working on them over the weekend."

Maybe next week.

Mr. Zetterberg decided after qualifying for his District 3 commission seat last year not to run because of concerns about his business. Many people interpreted that as a signal he would challenge Mayor Larry Sconyers this year. Mr. Zetterberg frequently criticized Mr. Sconyers for lack of leadership and the commission for not seriously trying to cut government costs.

The other candidate teetering on the edge of commitment, Channel 6 TV news anchorman Bob Young, said Thursday he was still considering running and still hadn't made up his mind.

`The only promise I have made is that I wouldn't run against Bill Kuhlke," Mr. Young said.

Mr. Kuhlke said he bowed out of the race because he lacked the fire-in-the-belly enthusiasm to run.

"I kept waiting for that enthusiastic, exciting gut feeling to hit me, and it never did," he said. "What I've found over the years is if I don't have that feeling that I'm going to go all out and do everything I can to make something work, it doesn't."

Besides, Mr. Kuhlke said, "I'm already in office. The situation we have now is the commission is running the government. Do I want to relinquish something voters voted for me to do?"

eanwhile, Mr. Sconyers, Commissioner Moses Todd and former Augusta mayor Ed McIntyre are in the race. Mr. McIntyre announced his candidacy Wednesday.

Mr. Sconyers said he was surprised at Mr. Kuhlke's decision. As for himself, he's "totally committed."

"There's no two ways about it. I've said that from day one," he said.

And Mr. Todd is busy raising campaign money, working on his platform and boning up on the budget.

e said he's not at all surprised Mr. McIntyre has decided to run and that it has no bearing on his own candidacy.

Many people are saying privately Mr. Todd will never resign his seat on the board to run for the mayor's post, especially now that Mr. McIntyre is in the race. Mr. Todd said those people just don't know him.

"I don't base decisions on what other folks is doing," Mr. Todd said. "People that know me know I don't reconsider when I make my mind up."

Mr. Todd said he plans to raise 50 percent of the $35,000 to $40,000 he calculates it will take to mount a winning campaign by the Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 qualifying period.

Former Mayor Charles A. DeVaney said "as of now" Mr. Kuhlke's decision doesn't change his position not to seek the office, "but it certainly does make the year more interesting.

"Those sitting on the fence certainly have a clearer path," he said.

Potential candidate Bernard Silverstein is still saying, "No comment" when queried about his plans.