By Corporal Gripweed
Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.
Franklin P. Adams
Over the past two weeks, two individuals announced their intention to run for Augusta-Richmond County Commission District 1.
The first was Stanley Hawes: longtime President of the Laney-Walker-Bethlehem Neighborhood Association. The second is Lori Davis: community activist and current President of the West Augusta Alliance. There has been buzz within the community that former District 1 candidate from 2009, Jo'Rae Jenkins may throw her hat into the ring as well, but as of yet there has been no official announcement. Sitting Commissioner Matt Aitken is reportedly in the decision making process as to whether he'll seek a second term as District 1 representative.
Barring intervention from the US Department of Justice the election for this seat, as well as all other non-partisan county wide offices will be held in July instead of November. This means we have less time to get to know our candidates this year.
Prior to his announcement, I have to admit I'd never heard of Mr. Hawes. To me this can only mean one of two things: either he has managed to stay out of the spotlight in the local political scene on purpose or he hasn't been very active in the recent past. Neither bodes very well for a District 1 candidate. In politics name recognition is paramount. Which leads me to Ms. Jenkins. Her name has been heard in political circles before. She mounted an unsuccessful campaign to become District 1 commissioner in 2009. But since then her political activity seems to be limited to attending some commission meetings and not much more. There's not a particular issue or movement which I can easily associate with her.
Now on to Lori Davis. Ms. Davis came to prominence in the summer of 2009 when she helped to organize a protest of so-called “chronic nuisance properties” in her neighborhood of Harrisburg. Since then she has been active in various endeavors related to city politics, as well as running for Mayor in 2010. Her name recognition is high but in some circles of the Augusta “elite” she is viewed as an agitator.
Lastly, the incumbent ,Mr. Aitken. Bear in mind Matt has not officially declared his intentions to seek reelection, but one could guess that the power brokers in Richmond County are pulling out all the stops in order to convince him to run. If recent votes by Mr. Aitken are any indication, the Augusta “machine”, also known as "The Cabal", would love to have Matt stay in office.
He has stirred the ire of many in District 1 because of recent votes that seem to favor the interests of The Cabal, at the expense of the District as a whole. His personal story is compelling and there is vindication in redemption, but I wonder if this is enough for a District that is suffering.
My instincts tell me Lori Davis would be a better commissioner at this point in time. She has no ties to any “elites” or political machines. And with the issues facing this city, an “agitator, or better put, someone willing to ask hard questions, is what District 1 and Augusta needs right now.
Lori has been a vocal advocate for safer neighborhoods by presenting plans for a return to community-based policing, implementation of a "chronic nuisance property ordinance", and a more aggressive code enforcement and inspections department that fast-tracks the removal of cancerous dilapidated properties that are havens for crime. More recently, Lori has been a central figure in exposing the misdeeds and back-room deals over the new Reynolds Street parking deck and TEE Center. Lori has brought it to the attention of commissioners, the media and the public that too often Augusta's government works for the interests of the well-connected few and against the average citizen and taxpayer. She has demonstrated true leadership and the resolve and sense of duty that we should expect from a public servant, but yet rarely get.
So my opinion is....don't vote against Stanley Hawes...don't vote against Jo'Rae Jenkins..don't vote against Matt Aitken......vote FOR Lori Davis. Right now Augusta needs real reform and real change in it's government and Lori Davis possesses the passion and the track record to deliver it. ***
Lori Davis' campaign website can be found here:---> www.ElectLoriDavis.com
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