Turnout likely low for District 22 election

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The timing of Ed Tarver's presidential appointment as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia has led to a rarity in politics -- a special election the first Tuesday in January, on the heels of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

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Senate District 22 candidate Sandra Suetta Cannon Scott  John Curry/Staff
John Curry/Staff
Senate District 22 candidate Sandra Suetta Cannon Scott

After the U.S. Senate confirmed Mr. Tarver on Nov. 5, Gov. Sonny Perdue called a Jan. 5 election to fill his vacated state Senate District 22 seat, not wanting to see the district go without representation when the next General Assembly session begins Jan. 11.

That means the four candidates vying to succeed Mr. Tarver must do their heaviest campaigning during the yuletide, when voters are likely to have jollier things on their minds.

It also means that, while E.G. "Earnie" Davis slipped into the vacated House District 122 seat by paying a $400 qualifying fee in Atlanta when no one else did, the winner of the Senate race can slip in by galvanizing a relatively small group of supporters who will turn out at the polls.

Citing off-year election disinterest and the distractions of the holidays, Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey predicts turnout between 10 percent and 20 percent -- more likely toward the lower end. District 22, which covers the core of Richmond County, has 76,630 registered voters. Mrs. Bailey has said the election will cost $70,000 to $80,000, with 46 of the city's 52 precincts open.

Ralph Walker, a longtime political observer and director of the Research Center at Augusta State University, predicts turnout of 13 percent to 16 percent. "I like to say in these little elections," Dr. Walker said, "the one with the most relatives wins."

LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE Taylor Bryant said he can sense apathy on the streets, which he attributes to the city having just gone through a scorcher of a campaign season with the Augusta Commission elections, especially the Dec. 1 runoff that saw Matt Aitken elected to replace Betty Beard.

"I think people are probably burned out with the political process, due to the commission races," Mr. Bryant said. "But that doesn't make it any less important."

Democratic candidate Harold V. Jones II, who resigned as solicitor general to seek the position, said voters should be concerned about the middle class having a voice in Atlanta, in addition to the issue of education funding.

"You know why you have low voter turnout?" Mr. Jones said. "Because people feel disaffected. We need to get back to where people feel like they're participating in the process."

He has been running radio ads, and his first mailing went out Friday. More important, he said, he'll make phone calls and campaign door to door. He said interest in the race is growing. "I think what you have to do is go out and speak to the issues that matter to people, and you have to do it face to face," Mr. Jones said.

Mr. Bryant, the only non-Democrat in the running, said he's hoping the low turnout will give him a boost if the Democratic vote gets split three ways, and he can garner about 90 percent of the Republican vote and support from the small-government-minded Tea Party contingency. He said he lacks the campaign war chest to pepper the district with yard signs, as Mr. Jones and Hardie Davis have done, or to buy billboard space, as Sandra Suetta Cannon Scott has done.

"Yard signs don't win elections," he said. "People showing up at the polls win elections. I'm asking people to look at my platform."

The GOP is sitting this one out, 10th Congressional District Republican Party Chairman Dave Barbee said, because the chances of winning are too slim to make a run worthwhile. He said he couldn't foresee any Republican doing any better in heavily Democratic District 22 than Don Cheeks did in 2004, when he lost with 43 percent of the vote to Charles Walker's 57 percent.

But while Mr. Walker once wielded great power in the seat, that won't be the case Jan. 11 -- or later if it's not decided until a Feb. 2 runoff.

Whoever wins will be a freshman senator in the minority party, Mr. Barbee said, another factor that could lead to a lack of interest. They'll have little sway in high-profile, statewide issues.

What's more, the job could be temporary. The winner will serve out Mr. Tarver's unexpired term, then will defend the seat in next year's July primary and November general election, when there will be much higher turnout. Then the seat would come up for re-election in 2012, which will be after reapportionment, when Augusta could potentially lose one of its two state senators to the Atlanta and north Georgia areas.

But the worst thing going for the special election is its post-holiday break date -- something Mr. Barbee said he's never seen before. He predicts turnout of no more than 15 percent.

"Nobody gives a rip," Mr. Barbee said. "It's Christmas. New Year's. Football. Bowl games. Nobody's thinking about politics. This election's the farthest thing from anyone's mind."

DR. WALKER said any seat is important. The minority party might not always be in the minority, and a freshman senator won't always be so either.

"You have to start someplace to build up seniority," he said. "A vote's a vote in the Legislature. Not every vote is right down the line, Republican and Democrat."

The new senator will have more pull on local, "home rule" issues, having a pivotal vote in decisions among the two-senator, five-representative legislative delegation, Dr. Walker said.

A few local matters bound to come up next year are the Augusta Commission's request for a referendum on enacting a Municipal Option Sales Tax, or MOST, which would add an extra cent to the sales tax to help fund city operations and offset property taxes. Another is a proposal to do away with or reduce the school tax exemption for property owners 65 and older.

Still another indifference factor Mr. Barbee cites -- the lack of a pressing issue, in voters' minds. In candidate forums held so far, the apparent front-runners, Mr. Jones and Mr. Davis, have traded barbs over Mr. Davis' support of Georgia Power Co. rate increases and Mr. Jones' opposition to corporate tax breaks, which Mr. Davis said create jobs. Such quibbles don't energize voter bases, Mr. Barbee said.

Mr. Davis, who resigned as the House District 122 representative to seek the Senate seat, said there's a very pressing issue in this election as the state faces a $1.25 billion shortfall. It's crucial, he said, that Augusta have a representative who is experienced and already has built up influence and respectability in Atlanta.

"It's going to be imperative that Augusta elect someone who is not a novice to the process," he said, and it's also imperative that the election be decided Jan. 5, without a runoff, so the city doesn't go a third of the legislative session without a District 22 senator.

Like Mr. Jones, Mr. Davis also sent out mailers last week, which were designed as Christmas cards with a photo of him, his wife and 8-year-old son on the front.

"We wanted that to be personal and not political," he said, "which is very important, to let people know that we care about you, especially at a time when a lot of people are struggling."

So far, Dr. Scott, a first-time candidate, has livened things up in her own way. An adjunct music professor at Aiken Technical College, she sang her opening remarks at a forum at Jenkins Memorial CME Church earlier this month. She said she did so because God gave her the gift of music, and God called her to run for the seat.

The most pressing issue in the race, she said, is the recession.

"How we're dealing with the economy, and lack of jobs for the people so they can make ends meet," she explained. "If the candidates don't bring the issues to the forefront, then they won't be dealt with."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

EARLY VOTING HAS BEGUN FOR DISTRICT 22

Early voting continues until New Year's Eve for the special election to fill the state Senate District 22 seat.


Voting will be held at the Richmond County Board of Elections office at 530 Greene St., Room 104, weekdays until Dec. 31. The hours will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. The office will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, then the hours will expand from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Dec. 28 to Dec. 31 for Advance Voting Week.


During Advance Voting Week, the Henry Brigham Center at 2463 Golden Camp Road and Warren Road Center at 300 Warren Road will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 28-31.


Voting by mail will be available from Monday until Dec. 31. Those voters should give a written request by mail or fax to the Board of Elections office, 530 Greene St., Room 104, Augusta, GA 30901. The fax number is (706) 821-2814. The request should include the voter's name and address, date of birth, date of the election and a signature.


For more information, call the Board of Elections at (706) 821-2340 or go to www.augustaga.gov.

TAYLOR BRYANT

PARTY: Libertarian AGE: 30

FAMILY: Wife, Amanda; stepsons, Cameron, 13, and Blake, 11

EDUCATION: Diploma from Aiken High School, class of 1997; associate's degree in auto technology from Aiken Technical College

CAREER: European car technician for Gerald Jones Volkswagen Audi in Martinez

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: President of Pine Hill Middle School Parent-Teacher Association; public relations director for the Libertarian Party of the CSRA

PLATFORM POINTS: Lower taxes; seeking new industries to reduce unemployment and expand economic opportunities; standing up for individual rights; pushing for more awareness of states' rights and 10th Amendment issues; protecting rights to bear arms; repealing laws restricting Sunday alcohol sales; cutting wasteful spending; streamlining government; selling unused state property

WEB SITE: www.bryantforaugusta.com

HARDIE DAVIS

PARTY: Democrat AGE: 41

FAMILY: Wife, Evett; son, Benjamin, 8

EDUCATION: Diploma from Hephzibah High School, class of 1987; Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech; Doctorate in Ministry from Christian Life School of Theology, Columbus, Ga.

CAREER: Pastor of Abundant Life Worship Center on Mike Padgett Highway

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: State representative for House District 122 from 2007 to 2009; House minority assistant whip; trustee of the University Health Care Foundation; board of directors member for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce; board of trustees member for Leadership Georgia; former member of the Augusta Board of Zoning Appeals; former board of directors member for Leadership Augusta; former board of directors member for Child Enrichment

PLATFORM POINTS: Expanding Peachcare and Medicare eligibility for those hit by the financial crisis; providing universal access to health care for children; providing prescription drugs at lower prices, especially for the elderly; restoring cuts to education; providing classroom and technology resources; providing career and technical education classes for middle school pupils; establishing a vocational and technical education high school in Augusta; promoting growth and commercial development, with an emphasis on blighted and underutilized areas

WEB SITE: www.hardiedavis.com

HAROLD V. JONES II

PARTY: Democrat AGE: 40

FAMILY: Wife, Kimberly

EDUCATION: Diploma from Glenn Hills High School, class of 1987; bachelor of arts in political science from South Carolina State University, Orangeburg; juris doctorate from North Carolina Central University Law School, Durham

CAREER: Partner at Shepard, Plunkett, Hamilton & Boudreaux law firm; adjunct professor at Paine College, Voorhees College, Georgia Military College and the University of Phoenix

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: Augusta solicitor general from 2005 to 2009; former chairman of the Richmond-Burke Youth Council; former president of the Greater Augusta Arts Council; former board of directors member for Leadership Augusta

PLATFORM POINTS: Fully funding education; increasing teacher pay; putting a moratorium on tax exemptions for corporations; reforming the criminal justice system, including decriminalizing traffic offenses; improving small-business development; protecting water resources; improving the local job base through business development; stressing the importance of minority participation in the state and city's economic development

WEB SITE: www.haroldvjones.com

SANDRA SUETTA CANNON SCOTT

PARTY: Democrat AGE: 56

FAMILY: Foster daughter Chenese Williams, 34, of Raleigh, N.C.; foster sons Tyson Williams, 33, of Washington, D.C., and Tyler Williams, 32, of Durham, N.C.

EDUCATION: Diploma from McCall Senior High School, Tallulah, La., class of 1971; bachelor of music education, Jackson (Miss.) State University; master of music, University of Michigan; doctorate in music education, University of Southern Mississippi; graduate of Harvard University's Institute for Educational Management

CAREER: Former music teacher at Laney High School; adjunct music professor at Aiken Technical College; president and CEO of Scott Consulting, a grant-writing service

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: Minister of music at Transformation United Methodist Church on Tobacco Road; former campaign director for Paine College's United Way and United Negro College Fund drives; former Augusta Ballet board member

PLATFORM POINTS: Economic security; focusing on issues of women and children, such as teen pregnancy, domestic violence, rape, homelessness, HIV/AIDS and poverty; access to and resources for military families and veterans, as well as for the disabled, seniors, adults, youth and infants; universal health care -- bringing attention to health care needs of the uninsured, underinsured and underserved insured; access to quality education from pre-K to higher education and beyond; access to technology to close the digital divide; environmental protection of all resources -- water, soil, air and wildlife; reducing the recidivism rate in the adult and juvenile corrections systems

-- Compiled by Johnny Edwards, staff writer

Comments (23) Add comment
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justus4
109
Points
justus4 12/20/09 - 05:03 am
0
0
The ol' governor don't want
Unpublished

The ol' governor don't want to see the district "go without representation" which is always said, but means absolutely nothing. The trappinngs of democracy, which is said in some quarters, but this so-called predicted "low turnout" seems to be a pattern of wishful thinking by U know who. Nothing new there, but splitting the vote may become evident and eventually effect who gets the seat. Jones is the best prepared for the position and should win, but this timing of elections appear to have some influence on who wins. Is there something else going on here?

UncleStrom
2
Points
UncleStrom 12/20/09 - 05:07 am
0
0
Yes, President Obama decided

Yes, President Obama decided when to appoint Judge Tarver which is the factor that affected the timing of the election. Do you need his email address to send him your concerns?

UncleStrom
2
Points
UncleStrom 12/20/09 - 05:18 am
0
0
Or you can just send it to

Or you can just send it to "Temporary Occupant", The White House. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.

concernednative
28
Points
concernednative 12/20/09 - 05:44 am
0
0
Uncle Strom, unless you want

Uncle Strom, unless you want to rewrite the constitution they are all temporary occupants.

UncleStrom
2
Points
UncleStrom 12/20/09 - 06:02 am
0
0
Hey, I'm not the one who

Hey, I'm not the one who publicly declared "I believe the Constitution is a living document". But that has nothing to do with this story. I was merely pointing out who got the ball rolling on the timing of this election.

UncleStrom
2
Points
UncleStrom 12/20/09 - 06:08 am
0
0
It's probably time to form a

It's probably time to form a posse of "Designated Diversity Drivers" to get the minority voters out to the polls just like they did for Mr Fennoy. Either that, or install a polling station inside 401 Walton Way.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 12/20/09 - 10:22 am
0
0
Division by Design. If one

Division by Design. If one scam won't work try another. Wrong sex, no vote, wrong color, no vote, no property, no vote, wrong name, no vote, confuse voting dates, no vote. There is no political post that cannot wait until an "election day". The first Tuesday in November would be "Election Day" and it would be a "National Holiday". It would celebrate our "right to vote". No designed confusion of what day we should vote. No designed attempts to
"shave points on the game". No designed attempts to pass "unpopular laws". And the icing on the cake is the millions of TAX dollars saved.

TANSTAAFL
0
Points
TANSTAAFL 12/20/09 - 10:35 am
0
0
Greetings All, Nice article

Greetings All,
Nice article Mr. Edwards, it is the most complete profile I've read on this oh so interesting race so far. I think that some additional information might be of interest to the voters of District 22 as they sort out who they want to represent them in the next session at the capitol. In the 2008 election Senator Tarver wiped the floor with republican John Butler, taking 80% of the ballots cast to the republican's 20%, but in light of the predicted low turn out, the percentages are not as interesting as the numbers. Mr. Butler relieved 11,000 votes in that contest. 11,000 votes. Additionally, Libertarian John Monds received 26,000 votes in Richmond County in 2008 while running for the PSC southern district seat. That indicates that District 22 has a diversity of political opinion that has been historically under served. This special election is very special in that provides an opportunity for the neglected voters of District 22 to raise their voices and cast their ballots for change. Vote for Smaller Government, Lower Taxes and More Freedom! Vote for Libertarian Taylor Bryant for State Senate!

yeswewillMrPresident
0
Points
yeswewillMrPresident 12/20/09 - 11:59 am
0
0
unclestorm get a life.

unclestorm get a life.

sucram
0
Points
sucram 12/20/09 - 12:01 pm
0
0
I have been to the forums and

I have been to the forums and heard the interviews and I think Harold Jones is the best candidate for this position.

Riverman1
90128
Points
Riverman1 12/20/09 - 05:17 pm
0
0
Harold Jones put a lot of bad

Harold Jones put a lot of bad guys in jail. I'll go with him, too.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 12/31/09 - 10:26 am
0
0
Calvin Holland supports

Calvin Holland supports Harold Jones, therefore, that is just one more reason I can no longer support Harold Jones.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 12/31/09 - 10:27 am
0
0
I'm torn between Hardie Davis

I'm torn between Hardie Davis and Taylor Bryant or I would have voted already.

ICSunshine
0
Points
ICSunshine 12/31/09 - 10:33 am
0
0
baroness, you understand this

baroness, you understand this story is 11 days old and nobody really cares since you told us the same thing yesterday about your intentions.

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 12/31/09 - 06:31 pm
0
0
No candidate will receive 50%

No candidate will receive 50% plus 1..There will be a runoff between Taylor Bryant and Hardie Davis..my 2 cents

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 01/01/10 - 03:06 pm
0
0
ICSunshine, (which seems to

ICSunshine, (which seems to be a misnomer...LOL) apparently you care or you wouldn't have had something smart-mouthed to say about it.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 01/01/10 - 03:07 pm
0
0
Besides which you actually

Besides which you actually came back to read the comments, didn't you? Do you think you're the only one that does that?

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 01/01/10 - 03:09 pm
0
0
ICSunshine, changing your

ICSunshine, changing your screen name frequently doesn't make you any harder to identify. I'd change mine back to baroness if I had a reason to do so, but a certain poster has left me alone since I changed my screen name, so even if I could, I wouldn't change it again at this point.

ICSunshine
0
Points
ICSunshine 01/01/10 - 03:16 pm
0
0
The only reason the comments

The only reason the comments are noticed is that they pop up on the main page when they are updated under "recent comments". I don't give a hoot what delusional fantasies you care to share with the world. But I can't help seeing them when the main page refreshes. So you can put that theory to bed too.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 01/01/10 - 09:42 pm
0
0
It wasn't a delusional

It wasn't a delusional fantasy to KNOW that you would post again on here after reading my comment. I don't care if you don't give a hoot about what I have to write; that's your problem. If you don't give a hoot, why bother commenting on them? Theory? My foot.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 01/01/10 - 09:58 pm
0
0
Falling, what is tearing you

Falling, what is tearing you between Hardie and I? Is there anything I can clear up for you?

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 01/01/10 - 09:59 pm
0
0
email me at

email me at atctaylorb@yahoo.com for any questions. I will try to answer them as best I know how. Thanks for the interest!

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 01/04/10 - 10:51 am
0
0
Thanks Taylor B. I've

Thanks Taylor B. I've checked out your site and other resources. I haven't voted yet.

lssimmons
0
Points
lssimmons 01/04/10 - 05:04 pm
0
0
I'm voting for Taylor Bryant.

I'm voting for Taylor Bryant. I agree with his platform points. The other candidates use words such as "expand, restore, provide, establish, promote, fund, increase". Has the sound of more and more taxes to me. I'd like to keep some of the money that I work so hard to earn!! And please, Ms. Scott, let's focus on the issues for all citizens-but maybe that's what you meant to do when you also included "adults".

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