Originally created 09/22/05

A clean break



When you get hung up on race, you only get hung up.

And that's been Augusta's most vexing problem for years.

Well, the city took a leap toward getting un-hung on Tuesday by electing political newcomer Ed Tarver to the state Senate.

A bright, young, civically prominent local attorney, Ed Tarver is just what the doctor ordered for what ails Augusta: He's an upstanding family man with Augusta's best interests at heart who represents a refreshing break from the racial politics so cynically played out by his disgraced predecessor.

Charles Walker, ousted from his District 22 seat this year after his sweeping conviction on 127 federal crimes - involving his businesses, charity, gambling problem and even his elective office - was one of the most divisive powerbrokers Augusta or any other town ever had.

Ed Tarver's remarkable landslide 63-percent win over two opponents - including a Walker spokesman - is a resounding tribute to the man, and represents a clean break from a nasty past and a stark repudiation of Race as King in Augusta.

It's also an opportunity to repair some of the city's political image across the state, which had been burned to the stubble by Walker and fellow corrupt official Robin Williams. The former Republican state representative was recently sentenced to 10 years for bilking an Augusta mental health center of millions of dollars.

Another former state official from Augusta, Linda Schrenko, faces criminal charges for her stewardship of the state school superintendent's office.

He's only one man. And the city's politics need a lot more fixing up. But we needed Ed Tarver.

Besides taking his district on a sharp turn toward integrity, honesty and fair dealing, Tarver will be every bit the uniter that Walker was a divider. Tarver does not play racial politics, and polled well across racial lines Tuesday. He is, in short, a man who will represent everyone, and in whom everyone can believe.

Augusta, and indeed Atlanta, had grown more than weary of Walker's "what's in it for me" modus operandi. Expect none of that self-serving nonsense from Sen. Ed Tarver.

To our friends in Atlanta: Please take note that politics as usual is no more in Augusta.

To those on the Augusta Com-mission, or those seeking one of the five available seats, and the mayor's office, in November: This goes for you, too.

If you can't see that this is a new day in Augusta, you will simply be left behind.