Originally created 10/16/06

Safety leads Murphy's agenda; rival puts revitalization No. 1



The Georgia House District 120 race pits Democratic incumbent Rep. Quincy Murphy against independent challenger and former mayoral candidate Helen Blocker-Adams.

For Mr. Murphy, the major issue affecting the district and the entire county is gang activity and violence. For Ms. Blocker-Adams, it's revitalizing Regency Mall.

"We've got to stabilize our neighborhoods, so kids in the classrooms will feel safe as well at the citizens in the community," Mr. Murphy said. "That's got to be my top priority."

Mr. Murphy said he will ask his legislative colleagues to amend the special purpose local option sales tax law so a certain percentage of the tax revenues can go to public safety.

"So we're going to ask they support that measure, and based on what I'm hearing from around the state, there should be a lot of my colleagues coming together in support of that, especially since the SPLOST is already established," he said. "We're not talking about any additional taxes."

Other issues of vital interest to the area are attracting businesses that support Medical College of Georgia research and development.

"By far, Augusta-Richmond County has one of the leading medical complexes in the country, so we want to make sure we can utilize what we have here to the benefit of our citizens," Mr. Murphy said.

"And of course we have a great jewel in the Savannah River," he said. "There will be a lot of discussion this upcoming session in terms of a water-usage plan."

Ms. Blocker-Adams said Regency Mall sits in the center of Augusta and in the center of District 120, which covers parts of south and west Augusta, including Augusta Mall, Daniel Village and Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway.

The district has 1,000 businesses and 20,749 registered voters, of which about 62 percent are black and about 33 percent white, according to Richmond County voter statistics.

When Ms. Blocker-Adams looks at a mile circle around Regency Mall, she sees what could be a thriving area of condominiums, retail and facilities for families that would "light up District 120 and all of Augusta."

Ms. Blocker-Adams sees new businesses popping up around the mall, such as Zorba's Pizza and Grill, as harbingers of change.

"Something is going to happen to Regency Mall sooner or later, and this area is going to boom," she said.

The future of that area of Augusta depends on it, she said.

"If we don't get something going there in the next two to three years, it's just not going to be good for that area of town," she said.

"The key to revitalizing the mall lies in getting the right public-private partnerships," she said. "It might be a combination of developers and groups that make that it happen."

Because no one developer is willing to invest millions to revitalize the mall, the 85-acre site might be broken into smaller parcels, she said.

Revitalizing the mall would increase the city's tax base and could create a domino effect for the entire area, she said.

And as a legislator, Ms. Blocker-Adams said, she would have access to people and resources that could make the revitalization happen.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

Helen Blocker-Adams

Age: 47

Occupation: Small business owner/entrepreneur, The HBA Group Intl.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Georgia State University

Political Background: Augusta mayoral candidate, 2005

Family: Single

Quincy Murphy

Age: 54

Occupation: President and chief operating officer of Quincy Murphy & Associates, an insurance and financial services firm

Education: Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, 1974

Political background: Georgia House of Representatives, 2003-present; Member of Higher Education Committee, insurance committee, transportation committee

Family: Wife, Linda Dianne Murphy; daughter Jennifer Alisha Murphy; son William Quincy Murphy III