By The Outsider
On March 12th at the quarterly meeting of the West Augusta Alliance the Republican candidates vying for the 12th District Congressional seat now held by John Barrow, were invited for a forum. The candidates were contacted by the alliance board weeks in advance with three of the four accepting the invitation within hours of being notified. The three candidates eager to participate were Lee Anderson, Maria Sheffield, and Wright McLeod. For whatever reason, Rick Allen was a hold out. Inside sources tell me that he might have gotten the message of the importance of this forum after a call was made to the Austin Rhodes show alerting Mr Rhodes of his MIA status. Word must have gotten around quickly because the proper call was initiated and Mr. Allen did make it. It Would not have been a good idea to ignore the West Augusta Alliance, at least that is what I hear.
The West Augusta Alliance was organized in 2002 with a purpose of becoming involved in local and state issues along with supporting the member neighborhoods in the alliance. Any neighborhood association located in Augusta, Georgia with a postal zip code of 30901, 30904, 30907, and 30909, may become a member. The turn out at the Warren Road Community Center was impressive, as every chair was filled. The meeting was called to order by Alliance President Lori Davis. As a side note, I found this interesting since Mrs. Davis lives in Harrisburg. Not that this is a bad thing, just looking around the room, those gathered were so,"West Augusta." Kudos to Mrs Davis and the forum moderator, Phil Williams for showing their leadership capabilities.
Rules of engagement were that each candidate would have 5 minutes each to introduce their platform. Rita Hamilton, long time member of the alliance, was the time keeper. Candidates approached the microphone in Alphabetical order beginning with Rick Allen. He zeroed in on three things of major importance; Faith, Family, And Community. The main thrust of his comments centered around his exasperation with continued government intervention into the lives of small business owners as he has tried to make a living in the community. "There is no light at the end of the tunnel." He then went on to say that his business had survived 4 recessions and that he had never had to lay off a single one of his 100 employees.
"I solve problems on a daily basis." Hmmmm, like how to get the next tax payer funded project? Just a thought as one looks around at what has been built in Augusta by R.W. Allen. One would think that there were no other General Contractors in the area.
On to Lee Anderson… Mr. Anderson is straight from the country and likes it that way. Even though he was not as articulate as the other candidates, he has an impressive record." An unashamed conservative, Lee served on the Columbia County Board of Education for eight years and the Columbia County Commission for four years. Since 2008, Lee has served as a representative in the Georgia State House. This is a man who does not mince words and tells it exactly how he feels. The feeling I got was that he was fed up. He is one candidate who already has working relationships under his belt. Full time farmers are the salt of the earth.
Candidate Number 3 was Wright McLeod. The way Mr. McLeod approached the podium and spoke into the microphone was immediately impressive to me. I knew there had to be military in his background. There is something about the way those who have been in command present themselves, and he was no different; pollshed, deliberate and convincing. As a retired commander, one could feel his heart breaking with every word he spoke concerning the slow demise of our country under the current leadership. Military guys are that way and can you blame them? In the Navy, Wright flew the F-14 Tomcat Fighter Jet. He served in combat during Operation Desert Storm, and has flown 53 combat missions. As a Naval Officer, an attorney, a municipal judge, and a small business owner, Wright has an unequaled record of leadership and service."
Lastly, there is Maria Sheffield. Maria is the only GOP candidate from outside of the Augusta area. She hails from Laurens County. Maria's personal story is compelling as she lost her mother at the age of 15 and later on cared for her disabled Father. She put herself through school earning her law degree by working full time. She was taught at an early age that you take care of yourself through hard work,"without relying on the government." Maria was the only one of the candidates who voiced her opinion of John Barrow, and attacking him in her campaign literature, " Your days of Saying one thing in Georgia and then voting the opposite way in Washington are over." I liked her style. One thing I have learned about women., they are not afraid to go for the jugular and call out those who are making their lives miserable. Men are more like tacticians. The woman's approach seems better to me to get everything out on the table and then get the job done. Women also don't go on and on about all of their accomplishments as men do. Yep, Venus and Mars.
The last segment of the forum focussed on individual answers to 4 questions that had been submitted by the BOD of the Alliance. To say that this ending was a Conservative's,"Love Fest," would be an understatement, This part should be easy to write. Conservatives mostly all think alike when it comes to the following issues; Taxes, Foreign policy issues, reviving the U.S. economy, and what the federal government should really be doing. These candidates were no different. All four believe that the Tax System is broken and needs to be replaced with something much simpler, the single greatest foreign policy issue is Iran, the best way to revive the U.S. economy is for government to get out of the way of small business and let them create the jobs, and the only responsibility of our federal government is the protection of it's citizens militarily. Good answers in my opinion to four daunting questions….End of Forum…..
President Davis then closed the meeting by encouraging those in attendance to approach the candidates with questions of their own. Several members of the media were readily available…. A great success for the West Augusta Alliance and very informative. Now to close with a little gossip from the floor of the gymnasium.
Robbie Silas is going to run for Sheriff of Richmond County and should announce this week.
Matt Aitken probably will not run for the District One Commission seat.
Donnie Smith thinks that the Augusta Commission should," just get along,"…. fairly naive for a District 7 candidate. Ever been to a Commission meeting, Mr. Smith?
Harold Jones has already announced his quest for Super District 9…..Did I miss something?
As I said.. chatter from the floor.***