Well-known Coliseum Authority attorney hopes to make the jump to the Commission
by Eric Johnson
Ed Enoch says that although many of the people he meets on the campaign trail are unsure whether or not there’s yet another election between now and the November 6 general election, he’s confident the weary public has what it takes to gear up one more time.
“I think it just kind of tuned people in,” he says of the high-intensity primaries and runoffs. “It’s a presidential election year, and people always get fired up for that, but you’ve got some historic elections again, too — the opportunity to reelect the first African-American president, and Richmond County may elect its first African-American sheriff. I think folks are going to be fired up.”
And though he admits the commission candidates had a difficult time dealing with the uncertainty about whether their elections were going to be in July or November, he says he’s glad with the outcome.
“I think that county commission and local elections really bear more in everyday life than the big elections,” he says. “People get excited about the big elections, but who your sheriff is and who your county commissioners are and who runs your school board — they are a lot more directly important.”
Though the commission run marks his first real campaign, it’s far from his first foray into politics. Like opponent Mary Davis, who ran Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s last mayoral campaign, Enoch was also a campaign manager, running State Senator Hardie Davis’ campaign.
“I learned that with a local election, it’s all how many people you met and how many people got to know you,” he says. “If they know you, they’ll vote for you. You’ve got to do the other stuff, but ultimately, people need to hear from the folks who are going to represent them.”
As the Coliseum Authority’s attorney through many of its most headline-grabbing years, Enoch started the campaign with considerable name recognition, and while some have been critical of his time with the authority, lumping him in with the dysfunctional board, Enoch insists his role was never controversial.
“My job was to be their legal representative and keep them between the lines, and in the 10 years that I’ve represented them, we’ve never had any journalist file any complaint for not having open meetings or not complying with a request,” he says. “My job was to make sure they got the legal part right.”
Some, however, continue to think that he could have done more to steer the board away from some of its more embarrassing chapters. Not surprisingly, he does not agree.
“I wasn’t even the parliamentarian,” he says. “I ended up making a lot of parliamentary rulings over there, and I can tell you there were a number of years where I didn’t go to those meetings without Roberts Rules of Order, but my job was to make sure that whatever they decided to do was legal for them to do it and that it was done legally. Whether they decided to hire somebody or not hire somebody — the policy decisions weren’t mine to make. I wasn’t an appointed official.”
Enoch, who grew up in Memphis, spent 10 years on submarines as a nuclear power plant operator, but with the nation’s nuclear program stalled after the accident at Three Mile Island, he decided to switch gears, choosing to follow his love of economics into the legal profession.
“I have a degree in economics and a degree in law, and right now we don’t have an attorney sitting on the commission,” he says. “Bringing those critical thinking skills and those negotiating skills — that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years. Bringing people together. Negotiating deals. Making things happen.”
It’s that kind of leadership he says Richmond County voters are looking for.
“I think consistently what you hear is that folks want a county commission with a different dialog, or a different way of dealing with each other and approaching issues,” he says. “We’re going to have some new voices, and people want to hear how you’re going to deal with that.”
His practice represents small businesses, and he’s passionate about the role small businesses play in the Augusta economy.
“I firmly believe that local entrepreneurs are the thing that will bring growth to this city,” he says. ”It’s great that Starbucks and the Club Cars and the EZ-Gos are here, but what we really need are some entrepreneurs that stay here.”
Keeping small businesses in the area means upgrading their relationship with county agencies, he says.
“Every small business needs to deal with city government, and we need to make sure that they have a yes experience instead of a no experience, because so often what I hear from my clients is that the first answer frequently is no and then you have to kind of get to yes. What we ought to be saying as a county government is, yeah, let’s figure out how to make that work.”
He brings up food trucks, which are popular elsewhere, but faced some difficult hurdles getting started here.
“I think as a commissioner, the way you do that is hold people accountable,” he says. “The commission hires the department heads and the administrator. You look to those folks to say, ‘How do we serve our people?’”You Might Also Like: