A few weeks ago, local resident Betty Harrison wrote a critical letter denouncing Robert “Bo” Hunter III, candidate for the State Court seat vacated by Judge John Flythe.
Harrison, a supporter of Hunter’s opponent in the race, Kellie Kenner McIntyre, did not approve of Hunter’s “campaign tactics,” according to the letter.
“What personal characteristics should we expect someone vying for a judgeship to have?” Harrison asked. “Three characteristics that I know they should have are ethics, integrity and honesty. Bo Hunter, to my surprise, lacks all three.”
Ouch. Harrison was clearly going for the jugular in her letter.
“Right before the primary voting on May 26, 2016, Bo Hunter came into the black community in the Grand Blvd. area with the express intent of sullying the name and reputation of Solicitor Kellie Kenner McIntyre,” Harrison wrote. “Mr. Hunter was accompanied by at least two black males. Was he afraid to enter the neighborhood alone? Or, did Mr. Hunter think a few black faces accompanying him would give him instant credibility?”
Those two words, “black faces,” in Harrison’s letter deeply upset the neighbors who stood by Hunter as he walked through the Grand Boulevard area that day.
“My name is Jerry Boyd. I am one of the ‘black faces’ that Ms. Betty Harrison talked about in her letter about Bo Hunter,” Boyd recently wrote to The Metro Courier. “I am from the Avenues. When my mother died in the Avenues, Bo Hunter was one of the first ones there. I am ashamed of Ms. Harrison. When she asked, ‘Was Mr. Hunter afraid to enter the neighborhood alone?’ she implied that it would not be safe for a white man to enter the neighborhood and that we would not be with Bo without being paid. I AM NOT A BLACK MAN FOR SALE. I CANNOT BE BOUGHT.”
Boyd insisted that Hunter is a true friend who he sincerely supports in the State Court race.
“Bo Hunter has been a friend of mine for over 25 years and a friend to this community for over 30 years,” Boyd wrote. “While we were in the neighborhood, Bo had people coming to speak to him who had their own story to share about how he helped them. Bo had often been the only white person at events and gatherings as color does not matter when following your heart and doing the right thing.”
Another supporter of Hunter named Larry Ashley also addressed Harrison’s comments in The Metro Courier.
“My family has been down on Grand Blvd. for generations and we have built a memorial park for my grandmother Rosa Barnes because she was so loved here. My grandparents owned Barnes Groceries and were pillars of this community,” Ashley wrote. “I can’t believe Ms. Harrison said I was a ‘black face’ walking with Bo Hunter. I am her neighbor but I guess she doesn’t know who her neighbors are. She also doesn’t know her facts. I am a friend of Bo Hunter who has been down here many times not just campaigning.”
The two Hunter supporters accused Harrison of the one not being honest.
In Harrison’s letter, she stated that Hunter and his supporters were handing out a news story published in The Augusta Chronicle about the tremendous backlog within the Richmond County Solicitor’s Office.
McIntyre, of course, is the current solicitor of Richmond County.
The story, written by Chronicle staff writer Sandy Hodson, said that nearly $1.4 million from fines paid by thousands of residents for minor traffic tickets before Jan. 1, 2014, and some cash bonds that people put up to get others out of jail has been sitting untouched in a bank account for years.
Apparently, that money has been just sitting there because of the backup in paperwork in the Richmond County Solicitor’s Office, according to the Chronicle.
“Upon answering my door, Mr. Hunter shook my hand and stated that he might be wasting his time since I had a McIntyre sign in my yard,” Harrison wrote. “He offered me the article and said I should read it. Several of my neighbors had the same experience and can attest to his neighborhood visit. It is one thing to come to a neighborhood and canvass it telling constituents what you will do if elected. It is another to come to a neighborhood to trash someone else with an article whose contents is suspect in the first place. Anyone doing such a thing is not worthy of being a judge.”
But Ashley insisted he wasn’t handing out the article from the Chronicle.
“The newspaper I handed out was the Metro Spirit and not The Augusta Chronicle,” Ashley wrote. “We handed it out same as campaign cards because a newspaper has to do fact checks and it told about all three candidates.”
Boyd agreed that Hunter did not do anything “unethical.”
“It is not unethical to hand out a news article about all three candidates to educate people,” Boyd wrote. “If you want to talk about ethics please ask Ms. McIntyre why over a million dollars is sitting in her office unpaid to Richmond County. Why are people waiting over 4 years to see a day in court?”
He also said it was not proper for Harrison to play the “race card.”
“Would we even bring up this same issue if Kellie went into an all white neighborhood?” Boyd asked. “No. Let’s set the record straight. This is not the first time Bo Hunter has been in the Avenues and it will not be the last. And, the people whom he has helped and have turned against him should be ashamed. Anybody who knows me knows I tell it like it is and Bo is a man of integrity and I support Bo Hunter.”
Ashley fully agreed with Boyd.
“I know Bo Hunter has been here and feels comfortable here,” he said. “I don’t know Kellie McIntyre and I have not seen her in this neighborhood before this campaign.”
As early voting for the July 26 runoff begins next week, things definitely appear to be heating up in the race for State Court judge.