An upbeat and enthusiastic Helen Blocker-Adams entered the 2006 race for Augusta mayor Thursday, announcing a platform of "jobs, jobs, jobs," bridge-building and leadership.
"And not just any kind of jobs," she told the crowd of about 50 supporters gathered around the Lady Justice statue at the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building. "Too many of our college kids are graduating - whether from colleges in Augusta or out of the area - and they want to come back here to work and build a family, but there are not plentiful jobs for them. ... I am very, very concerned about that."
Racial issues that hang over Augusta like a cloud come from a lack of communication, understanding, respect for each other, valuing differences and relationship-building, she said.
"And most importantly, a lack of love for one another," she said.
She touted her "proven record of over 20 years of bringing diverse groups together." She promised to use the techniques she has implemented in her business and as an ombudsman for south Augusta to lead the city.
But she would not be the only leader, she said.
"I believe the leaders are all around us. I believe we have leaders in Augusta who are underutilized. They are considered invisible. Well, they will be invisible no more."
During the next 16 months, Ms. Blocker-Adams said, she and her campaign leadership team will reach out to potential leaders to involve them in the political process.
"You see, this campaign, my quest for mayor, is not about me," she said. "It's about the community. ... Our campaign slogan, 'Help me help you,' is also about an attitude - a servant attitude. When people love each other, love Augusta, then we are willing to work together for the good. We are willing to accept each other's differences, and respect their beliefs."
Ms. Blocker-Adams said some people have said she is jumping into the race too soon.
"We totally disagree," she said.
During coming months, she and her team expect to hold voter education rallies and fund-raisers; knock on doors; listen to people; and speak at association meetings, at churches, at civic clubs and in back yards, she said.
Ms. Blocker-Adams is the president and CEO of the HBA Group, an economic development and business events planning firm.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.