What’s at stake on Election Day? Simply put, the way the city runs.
Being the South and Augusta, a lot of the political talk is going to be about race, so there’s no sense beating around the bush — the very complexion of Augusta could change.
Not a threat or a trumpeting, just a fact.
Though the leadership of Districts 3 and 7 won’t change races and shouldn’t significantly change the balance of the commission no matter who emerges victorious, District 1 is by no means as certain. The landmark victory of Matt Aitken the last time around — a white man winning in a predominantly black district — famously unbalanced the racial makeup of the commission, but Aitken’s tenure has been largely undistinguished, and while far from divisive, his bridge building promise never really materialized, leaving him vulnerable.
With two black candidates, including Bill Fennoy, who lost to Aitken in a runoff three years ago and can honestly take the Are You Better Off Now argument to the black community, Aitken might find himself in another runoff, and another runoff might not bode well for him this time around.
Therefore, the commission could easily return to the 5-5 spilt that has historically resulted in no side getting anything that they want. And though the balance can’t swing the other way, the tenor certainly could if former Commissioner Marion Williams beats Harold Jones to follow the term-limited J.R. Hatney. While often critical of the white majority, Hatney has been an unfocused and occasional voice, far from the galvanizing figure of Williams, whose previous tenure was marked with bombast and scandal.
Therefore, the black commissioners could become much more powerful. How Bill Lockett and Alvin Mason, the current black voices, adjust to the potential new company, not to mention their new roles, could be interesting to see, but not as interesting as watching how the community at large adjusts to the idea of Augusta’s first black sheriff, the vilified survivor Richard Roundtree.You Might Also Like:
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