|Former Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams|
Very reliable sources are telling City Stink that former Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams intends to run for the Super Commission District 9 seat currently held by J.R Hatney. Since Hatney is term limited it will be an open seat with no incumbent. But Williams may have an uphill battle to make a return to the commission. If you recall, he made an attempt to recapture his old District 2 seat back in 2010, running against Corey Johnson, who he had previously endorsed to take his place on the commission after he was term limited from running for another consecutive term. After waiting for one term to elapse, Williams tried to make a comeback, but Johnson handily won re-election with over 65% of the vote, buoyed by an influx of campaign contributions, including $1,000 from Mayor Copenhaver.
But complicating Williams' efforts this time is the possibility that Willy Mays may also run for the District 9 seat. Even before word that Williams intended to run, the political rumor mill was burning with loud whispers of "Willy Mays." Mays has an established political legacy in Augusta, certainly high name recognition, and the organization and ability to raise money. Mays served as interim Augusta mayor between the departure of Bob Young and the swearing in of Deke Copenhaver, whom he lost to in a special election for the seat.
Keeping Marion Williams off the commission will be a top priority among some high level political circles and watch for a strong effort to coalesce around any "Not Marion Williams" candidate, even if Mays decides not to run. Williams' combative style garnered him a lot of political enemies, but he also has his legion of supporters who see him as having the courage to take on the political establishment in Augusta and expose corruption. Williams was a vocal critic of the TEE Center, especially giving the operations contract to one of Billly Morris' companies. With all of the controversy now swirling around the TEE Center parking deck and questionable land deals that have prompted a forensic audit, Marion Williams can now say "See, I told you so." Williams was also the most vocal critic on the commission of the "Billy Barn": The $100 million proposed taxpayer financed arena at Regency Mall that was being pushed by Billy Morris and local businessman Frank Lawrence at the time.
But many people who agree with Williams on some of these big issues still view his political style as more of a liability because invariably the issue always seems to become focused on Marion Williams instead of the corruption he is supposedly trying to uncover. Also, some people view allegations of a conflict of interest over the drag strip he championed while on the commission has hurt his credibility as a watchdog over government corruption. The GBI investigated that incident and decided not to pursue it after finding nothing criminal. However even though the GBI found no evidence of criminal wrong doing, many people still maintain that it just didn't look right, and was at the very least unethical. Whatever your opinions of Marion Williams are, there is no doubt that he certainly makes things interesting.***
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