One thing is clear after Tuesday's runoff election: Augustans want change.
At least that's the case for the 7 or 8 percent of eligible voters who showed up at the polls.
But the election to fill the District 2 and District 4 seats on the Augusta Commission, despite the anemic turnout, delivered a definite message -- residents want to see a serious change in the way the commission conducts its business. We're seeing glimpses of that now -- and the assured departure this month of obstructionist lightning rod Commissioner Marion Williams will mark a quantum leap of improvement in itself.
Now city government has two more new faces: Alvin Mason representing District 4, and Corey Johnson for District 2.
Mason rightly stressed effective communication while making his run for office. Past commission meetings were too often rooted firmly in racially tinged politicking that spawned divisiveness. The brand of leadership Mason brings to the table should help cultivate a higher level of understanding among commissioners. We expect the spirit of rancor to be exorcised, and replaced with the spirit of compromise.
As for Johnson -- well, the fact that he won the enthusiastic endorsements of Commissioner Williams and race-baiting radio host Ryan B is an albatross attached to him that is extremely difficult to overlook.
But a slim majority of voters in District 2 chose Johnson's youth and vision over Freddie Handy's skill and experience. Now it is up to the 34-year-old Johnson to deliver.
Voters saw in Johnson a candidate who wants to get people involved in better government, and who wants to rid his district of its all-too-common eyesore properties.
He also wants to revitalize the mind-set of his soon-to-be constituents. Getting District 2 residents to buy into the idea of participating in community improvement is key. "If they know better, they'll do better," Johnson told The Augusta Chronicle's editorial board in October.
Johnson has promised to put personalities aside and to work with all commissioners for genuine, positive change, with a leadership style he describes as "humble but firm."
If he emerges as that kind of commissioner -- someone who reaches out instead of walks away -- then we pledge to support him however we can.