After his stunning conviction earlier this year on 127 federal crimes, and his disgraced ouster from the state Senate, Augusta desperately needs to make a clean break from the corrupt Charles Walker era.
But in seeking to fill out Walker's term in a special election Sept. 20, Ed Tarver is much more than merely a clean break from an unfortunate past. With any luck, he's a glimpse into Augusta's future.
A former U.S. Army field artillery officer, a respected local attorney, an honored civic volunteer - and the rousing choice of the grass-roots Richmond County Committee for Good Government - Ed Tarver is as fine a young man as we've seen enter the political fray in some time.
If Augusta harbors any fantasies of reclaiming its tattered political image, electing Ed Tarver to the state Senate District 22 seat is an absolute necessity.
In contrast, a vote for Tarver's main opponent - a former Walker spokesman, no less - would be an ill-advised step backward.
Ed Tarver represents the best of what Augusta's future has to offer.
Tarver, at only 46 years of age, has already left an impact on Augusta's private sector that's as big as his handshake. He's been chairman of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce; president and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Leadership Georgia Foundation; chairman of the St. John's Towers Advisory Board; president of the East Georgia Easter Seals Society, and more. He currently sits on the boards of Georgia Bank and Trust Co., the Georgia Lawyers Insurance Co., the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and, most recently, became president of the Augusta Technical College Board of Directors.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Tarver won the 1995 Alvin W. Vogtle Volunteer of the Year Award, and the 2002 Leadership Augusta Community Service Award.
How far can roots be stretched? Though the Army took him away, Tarver's roots never let go of Augusta soil. The son of a soldier himself, the 1977 Glenn Hills High School graduate and 1981 graduate of Augusta State University wanted desperately to return to Augusta to give his two children the kind of deep-rooted life his native-Augustan wife Beverly had.
Now, Ed Tarver seeks to bring his love of Augusta and his proven private-sector leadership skills to the public sector, to help a political community that has been adrift. And at a time in which trust between the races is a tenuous matter in Augusta, Tarver is an inspiring leader whom everyone can believe in.
What he stands for, other than integrity, is economic development that benefits all Augustans, done with an eye toward a shared long-term vision that we've yet to agree to, much less implement. Job 1, he says, is to get rid of decaying structures.
People talk that way all the time. But Ed Tarver's career and exemplary civic record show that he's a doer, not just a talker.
He's got the rsum. The attitude. The credibility. The community-building credentials. The integrity. And the respect and admiration of a true cross-section of Augusta.
If voters of District 22 do not elect Ed Tarver to the Georgia Senate on Sept. 20, one will have to wonder what this town is waiting for.
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