Augusta's Mayoral Candidates Talk Education, Jobs - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Augusta's Mayoral Candidates Talk Education, Jobs

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Augusta, GA - With less than ten weeks left before Augusta-Richmond County’s Primary Election, the handful of candidates hoping to sit at the helm of the Garden City met to debate the issues.

This year's race for the mayor's seat will definitely go down in history, as all the candidates are African-American. Helen Blocker- Adams, Charles Cummings, Hardie Davis, Alvin Mason, and Lori Myles are the candidates running to become Augusta's next mayor.

The debate, held at Richmond County Board of Education, touched on several topics, including economic development, education and transportation.  Four of the five candidates each took turns explaining why a vote for them is the direction Augusta needs to take.

They want the job, but voters must determine who is actually able to handle it.  That’s why Richmond County educators held a mayoral debate to give the handful of candidates a chance to state their priorities if elected.  So, it came as no surprise that education and how it should improve was one of the many issues discussed.  28-year educator and T.W. Josey High School teacher Lori Myles told the crowd collaboration is key.

She said, “In order for the children to be put first and in order for the children to be first, we as educators are going to have to step up to the plate.”

Another key area addressed was economic development.  The candidates spoke to how they would attract and keep young professionals as well as bring new industry.  While Commissioner Alvin Mason used his seven year home court advantage, business woman Helen Blocker-Adams drew on her wealth of Garden City knowledge and connections.

Mason told those in attendance that his work as commissioner has brought the development of many new stores such as Cabela’s on River Watch Parkway and other companies slated to come, “Premiere Outlets is coming ladies where you can shop.  You don’t have to go to Savannah or somewhere else to go to an outlet mall.  We’re bringing that for you because that’s what you said you wanted.  [It is a] 200 million [dollar] investment [that will bring] 1500 new jobs.”

Helen Blocker Adams addressed how she would attract and keep young professionals to Augusta.   “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.  Young people want to be able to be mobile.  They want to be able to come to a downtown that’s vibrant.  They want to be able to come to a place where they can have a pretty decent quality of life,” she said.

Charles Cummings, who is retired from the military, chimed in on how he would like to improve public transportation.

“You gotta change the date, you gotta change the hours, you gotta change the route.  And then kids who go to alternative school, we don’t even provide transportation for them,” Cummings said.

South Augusta Pastor and District 22 State Senator Hardie Davis did not attend tonight's debate due to his work in the legislature in Atlanta.  The candidates have less than ten weeks before the May 20th primary election.   A date recently switched from July.

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