There have been wild rumors this week down at the Marble Palace that recently fired City Administrator Fred Russell is considering a run for mayor. What in the world?Augustans can only hope this is a bad joke that county employees are spreading around town to simply make Russell’s awkward exit a little less uncomfortable.A run for mayor would probably be the worst possible move that Russell could make.Let’s just say Russell somehow managed to win this year’s mayoral election over the likes of other possible candidates such as Augustacommissioners Alvin Mason and Joe Jackson, state Sen. Hardie Davis, former mayoral candidate Helen Blocker-Adams and local businessman Charles Cummings.
For the next several years, Russell would be forced to work with many of the Augusta commissioners who voted to fire him from the position he has held for almost a decade. And the manner in which the commission fired Russell — all without a word and not even allowing him to be told firsthand that he no longer had a job — that could only result in total distain and ill feelings towards the board.Several years ago, former Augusta Mayor Larry Sconyers offered some simple advice: “Ill feelings are like cancer. They don’t hurt the person you are angry at, they only eat away at you.”All for what?
The mayor basically presides over all the Augusta Commission meetings; serves as the official head of Richmond County for ceremonial purposes; administers oaths; signs all written contracts entered into by the commission on behalf of Augusta-Richmond County; helps appoint committees; and can vote to break a tie on the commission. That’s about it. Why in the world would Russell want to put up with the Augusta Commission for that? If Russell wants to continue working, he surely has several opportunities. After all, Russell, a former deputy police chief from Richmond, Va., came to Augusta in 2002 after he was hired by his friend and former City Administrator George Kolb. When Kolb left Augusta in 2004, Russell, then a deputy administrator, was named interim city administrator. By 2005, he as given the top seat as city administrator. He stayed in that position for almost a decade. That’s definitely something to be proud of.
But it’s time to move on. Russell should follow in the footsteps of his former friend, Kolb, and look for something new. Start fresh, either in a new city or simply a new job. Walk away from Augusta politics and don’t look back. Take another gem of advice from the consolidated government’s first city administrator, Randy Oliver. Oliver used to joke that the worst move an administrator (or former administrator) could make is to try to play politics with elected officials. “If you play around in politics, at some point, the horse you are riding is going to die,” Oliver would say. “And when your horse is dead, you’re dead.” Words to live by, Mr. Russell. Good luck with your future endeavors. It is almost certain that 2014 will be a much better year for you.
(Unless you decide to run for mayor, that is. Please don’t do it.)