Far from over

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Voters, who made some terrific choices Tuesday, have two more choices left to make in the Dec. 4 runoff -- and they are some of the starkest choices the electorate will ever face.

This should tell you everything you need to know about the choice in the District 2 runoff: Mayor Deke Copenhaver is endorsing commission veteran Freddie Handy, and outgoing Commissioner Marion Williams is backing Corey Johnson to succeed him.

Think about that: Behind Freddie Handy is a mayor who has singlehandedly improved the dismal political climate in this city; behind his opponent is quite possibly the most ineffective, divisive and obstructionist elected official we've ever seen here.

Moreover, an endorsement from Mayor Copenhaver, who won a landslide election last year, should be considered synonymous with good government. Voters need to listen to him and help him by delivering a commission that will work with him, not against him.

Meanwhile, Williams' endorsement of Johnson speaks volumes. Williams evidently believes that Johnson will deliver the same unproductive, contentious, me-against-the-world non-representation that Williams has become infamous for.

Do District 2 voters really want more of that? We fervently hope not, and trust that they'll opt for change, for teamwork, for progressiveness, for unity and for a more functional Augusta Commission.

The District 4 runoff provides voters yet another stark -- and easy -- choice: newcomer Alvin Mason over incumbent Bernard Harper.

An eminently impressive presence, Alvin Mason -- also endorsed by Mayor Copenhaver -- has promised unequivocally that he will be at the commission table to put his leadership and communication skills to work for District 4 residents. He places an extremely high value on representing the people -- and that can't be done unless you're actually in commission chambers, hand poised over the voting button.

As for Harper, if Hollywood made a movie about him, producers could reuse the title The Man Who Wasn't There . In August, Harper joined three other misguided commissioners in walking out on the year's biggest public project: the planned trade, exhibition and entertainment center. Voting for that center also meant voting for $37.5 million in hotel bed taxes that will help revitalize Augusta's inner city.

It's the largest investment in neglected neighborhoods in years -- possibly ever. And where was Harper? Certainly not where he was supposed to be: in his seat, representing District 4.

Thankfully, it all passed despite his being AWOL. But voters should never forget the shameful act he committed by walking out. It was a slap in the face to voters who put him there, and people should have that at the forefront of their minds when they visit the polls Dec. 4.

Both Handy and Mason led the voting in their respective districts Tuesday. Their supporters -- and all who want good government -- need to return Dec. 4 to finish the job. The future of Augusta, and how it's governed, is still very much in play.

The Augusta Commission, already improved from recent years, improved again on Tuesday when Don Grantham was re-elected to his District 10 seat and District 6 voters installed Joe Jackson without a runoff.

How much better will it be with Freddie Handy and Alvin Mason?


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