While some sore losers want to blame heavy rains, especially the downpours experienced in the downtown area and west Augusta neighborhoods, as the reason why south Augusta voters dominated at the polls this Tuesday, the truth is, you can’t point fingers at Mother Nature.
South Augusta voters turned out to the polls in force and made their voices heard during the May 22 election.
As a result, incumbent Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis was re-elected to four more years.
By the end of election night, Davis earned more than 55 percent of the votes while his challenger, Gould Hagler II, received about 44 percent of the votes.
As for the non-binding vote on the future location of the new James Brown Arena, the results are mixed.
According to the election results in Richmond County, the majority of Republicans favor the James Brown Arena remaining downtown, while Democrats in Richmond County appear to be heavily divided on the topic.
Overall, those supporting the James Brown Arena remaining downtown are declaring a victory because a majority of voters backed building a new arena at the current downtown location. In fact, more than 60 percent of those voting on Tuesday supported the downtown location.
However, more than 11,000 Democratic voters in Augusta supported the new $120 million arena being built at the former Regency Mall location, while approximately 9,600 Democrats supported the new James Brown Arena being built at the current downtown location.
Meanwhile, more than 7,600 Republican voters wanted to keep the James Brown Arena downtown, while only about 1,900 Republican wanted the new arena to be built at the Regency Mall location.
So, what will that mean for the Augusta Commission’s decision on the fate of the new arena?
Everything is still up in the air.
Technically, more voters supported the new James Brown Arena remaining at the downtown location, but it wasn’t an overwhelming majority that could have slammed the door shut on the proposed Regency Mall site.
That leaves a lot of wiggle room for politicians who know how to use it. But if Davis sticks to his word, the new arena should be built downtown.
After all, over the past several weeks, Davis has said he would support the outcome of the two non-binding questions regarding the arena on the ballot. No matter what the decision.
“It is a divisive issue,” Davis said last month, adding that the arena debate had changed the “tone” of this election. “Many individuals who supported me previously are now supporting my opponent because of a singular decision to choose the Regency location as the place that we will build a multi-purpose arena.”
Davis said that “single decision” was altering people’s view of his entire performance as mayor.
Therefore, Davis said he was committed to supporting the result of the non-binding questions on the ballot.
“You can decide whether you want it at the Regency location or whether you want it to be built at the current location downtown,” Davis said. “As your mayor, I am going hold the flag up and I am going to support whatever decision the people decide.”
Let’s see if Davis is a man of his word.
But, of course, the final decision will be made Augusta commissioners. They can do basically whatever the hell they want to do. So, most likely, Augusta is probably heading back to the drawing board when it comes to the future of the new arena.
As for the rest of the election results in Richmond County, incumbents on the Augusta Commission fared very well.
Incumbent commissioners Ben Hasan, Dennis Williams and Sammy Sias were all re-elected to another term.
In the Augusta Commission Super District 10 race, political newcomer John Clarke narrowly defeated candidate Lori Myles.
As for the much-watched election for Richmond County State Court judge, candidate Monique Walker, the daughter of former state Sen. Charles Walker, defeated incumbent Bo Hunter at the polls.
Now, taking a look at Augusta’s neighbors in Columbia County, the campaign for chair of the commission is still alive and well.
All three candidates vying to succeed incumbent chairman Ron Cross ran a very competitive race, but only two remain for the runoff: Former EMA Director Pam Tucker and District 1 Columbia County Commissioner Doug Duncan.
Duncan led the night with approximately 47 percent of the votes, but Tucker was a close second with about 44 percent. Business owner Mark Herbert received approximately 9 percent.
So, now it will come down to who works harder over the next two months to win the trust of Columbia County voters: Tucker or Duncan.
Keep an eye on this race.
It will definitely get interesting.