Paving the way to the future

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Never has such a low turnout carried a bigger mandate.

Just less than 9 percent of registered voters in Richmond County voted in Tuesday's special election on extending the county's 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax beyond its expiration in the fall of 2010. But the "Yes" vote was overwhelming: 70 percent to 30 percent.

The vote will allow the county to collect $184.7 million over some five years for improvements to roads and bridges, flood control, purchase of emergency vehicles, a lake at Regency Mall, grants to various nonprofits and more. The package also includes money to begin a restoration of the historic Miller Theater on Broad Street.

But the vote goes far beyond even those practical effects. It sets a progressive tone in a town in which politics have often gotten in the way -- but where a new breed of leadership seems to be taking over in both the public and private sector.

It's telling that the pro-SPLOST volunteers celebrating the vote Tuesday night downtown were from every part of town, every age, every race, every ideology.

It felt like Augusta grew up a little Tuesday -- and maybe grew together more.

"Absolutely," said volunteer Janie Peel. "I think it sends a message that voters are going to get what they want -- that voters are the ones with real power.

"I'm just excited we had the opportunity to educate people about what the vote was really about. This solidifies the future of Augusta."

Peel cited volunteers such as Tricia Hughes and advocates such as talk-show host Helen Blocker-Adams -- and said city administrator Fred Russell worked tirelessly to explain the package to audiences.

"Fred did an outstanding job," Peel said, "and we are very lucky to have him."

We agree. Russell has the unenviable task of answering to 10 commissioners and a mayor, and yet was able to forge a SPLOST package that not only those bosses, but the voter -- his ultimate bosses -- gave their stamp of approval to.

This vote was about the kind of community we want. And, after, all, that's up to us, not the government. The Augusta community gave its marching orders to the government Tuesday.

"People see what needs to be done in the city, what needs to be done within the infrastructure. What we've got to do is live up to that," Commissioner Calvin Holland told the Chronicle's Johnny Edwards.

No matter what the turnout, that's a huge mandate.

Comments (11) Add comment
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dhd1108
1
Points
dhd1108 06/18/09 - 04:08 am
0
0
here's hoping the money

here's hoping the money allotted to "paving the way to the future" isn't whittled away or transferred to pork projects

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 06/18/09 - 04:31 am
0
0
Now it's time for the County

Now it's time for the County Commission to step up and see the SPLOST money is invested wisely. Betraying the trust of the voters (again) will probably assure the end of SPLOST.

mad_max
0
Points
mad_max 06/18/09 - 05:32 am
0
0
The officials who cry in

The officials who cry in dismay about the low turnout are hypocrites. They know this crap probably would not pass if we could get 60% or more of the people to the poles. ALL election issues, including SPLOST, should be on the normal election cycles in November. Our government should not be allowed to use the historically low turnout TRICK to push certain issues. Any government should do it's best to insure that the highest percentage of voters will have input on any issue. The cost of holding special elections should be reserved for absolutely mandatory circumstances such as filling an office vacated by death or incarceration.

Bizkit
34261
Points
Bizkit 06/18/09 - 06:06 am
0
0
Still people had a chance to

Still people had a chance to vote so no different than any other issue. At least we don't have to listen to all the opposition and complaining if no one cared enough to vote against it.

shivas
2
Points
shivas 06/18/09 - 06:08 am
0
0
Didn't we already try a lake

Didn't we already try a lake on the Southside- Lumbars?

Jim-bob
1
Points
Jim-bob 06/18/09 - 06:41 am
0
0
Better be catfish in dat

Better be catfish in dat lake.

Tots
26202
Points
Tots 06/18/09 - 08:02 am
0
0
more like crack fish in the

more like crack fish in the pond.

jack
10
Points
jack 06/18/09 - 09:59 am
0
0
So you folks gave the clowns

So you folks gave the clowns more money to waste on their pet rocks. Glad I moved across the river.

ONLY THE TRUTH
2
Points
ONLY THE TRUTH 06/18/09 - 11:06 am
0
0
Give money to Paine college

Give money to Paine college and all the imported folks will vote for it no matter what.

The Knave
24
Points
The Knave 06/18/09 - 12:27 pm
0
0
mad_max has used his/her

mad_max has used his/her mighty hammer to hit the ugly Augusta nail right on its head. These "special votes" cost a lot of money and do ensure a very small number of people will vote. It' simply a somewhat-more-subtle-than-usual way of manipulating the outcome. And those who are hoping the money will be spent "wisely -- this time" are delusional. But, hey, it's only another 1% tax on sales -- who cares. Meanwhile, out-of-state sellers will get my business at every opportunity, and I'll be electing not to contribute the 1% to the black hole.

LaTwon
1
Points
LaTwon 06/18/09 - 01:37 pm
0
0
i buy most everything i can

i buy most everything i can on the internet. thats a 7% discount
before any other good deal is factored in. R C has enough employees to out vote the nays on that turnout.

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