Now that Augusta’s mayoral and commission races have officially been moved to May 20 because state lawmakers voted to change Georgia’s primary election from July to May, folks are rushing to decide whether or not their names will be on the ballot this spring.
So far, the folks who have officially declared they are seeking the mayor’s seat include state Sen. Hardie Davis, Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason, businesswoman Helen Blocker-Adams and businessman Charles Cummings.
As of the Metro Spirit’s presstime on Tuesday, there was no official word whether former City Administrator Fred Russell was jumping into the race, but insiders say it is a sure bet.
Those close to the campaign say the announcement will be made this week. Russell has the support of some powerful players in the Garden City and will surely have no problem raising money.
In fact, Russell’s campaign manager is Duncan Johnson, Jr.
Insiders are predicting a tight race, with the black vote being split by the other candidates and the May election date working in favor of Russell’s chances.
Some politicians in the black community are extremely upset with state legislators for changing the primary elections from July to May, insisting the move was an attack on the black vote.
Augusta voters are used to electing commissioners and the mayor in November rather than the spring. Many in the black community fear the voter turnout will be low because people will not anticipate the local elections in May.
Only time will tell whether all the candidates will be able to get the word out about the May election.
One new rumor floating around the Garden City is former Augusta Commissioner Matt Aitken is strongly considering a run for mayor. The idea is laughable for some of his former supporters, who expected a lot of change when Aitken previously served as the commissioner for District 1.
When Aitken was elected in 2009, many in Augusta hoped his leadership would end the racial divide in the city. Others feared he would disrupt the racially balanced commission.
In the end, Aitken didn’t do much at all. He frequently just sat quietly in his commission chair, watching the chaos around him and looking a bit lost.
In 2012, Aitken lost his seat in a runoff election to Bill Fennoy by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. But insiders say Aitken needs a job and it looks like he may make a run for mayor.
Others are insisting that it would be wiser for Aitken to head down to the Georgia Department of Labor Office on Greene Street instead of setting his sites on the Marble Palace across the street.