AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Mayor Garnett Johnson is proposing some new powers for his office, but it’s news to some Augusta commissioners.  

“I have not heard from the mayor nor anyone one in his office about this plan, haven’t heard from anyone about the intention,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

The mayor’s intention is to get state lawmakers to change the charter to give the mayor a vote on all commission issues, and he has reached out to five commissioners to get their support.  

“We have a mayor now who is so engaged, he’s at every committee meeting, every commission meeting, he should have a vote, I don’t think he should have more power,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.

The mayor’s vote would require a charter change, and the proposal calls for residents to vote on it.

“That it’s going to be on the ballot in November, I think having the voters in Richmond County have their say in this is a very important part of the process, I’m in full support of hearing what they have to say,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Brandon Garrett.

Commissioners have been divided this year on items like the ambulance issue, but now comes the mayor’s proposal that is blindsiding some city leaders.

“If half this commission was not informed, not brought on board, is that right?”
“Absolutely not, even if he got a no, I think he should have, and he could have forged ahead,” said Commissioner Francine Scott.

“There’s been no communication, there has been no transparency, and we’ve seen this before and I hope we do not go down this road again,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.  

Mayor Johnson declined to comment saying he wants to let the process play out, but some commissioners are feeling left out on this issue.

District 2 Commissioner Stacy Pulliam says she is opposed to changing the charter to give the mayor a vote without first doing a bit of homework on the proposal. She provided the following statement to WJBF that she sent to state and local delegation:

“On behalf of my constituents and myself, I am opposed to changing the Augusta charter without having done our due diligence. A large part of that due diligence could include, but is not limited to: a study committee that is reflective of the citizens in Augusta Richmond County; getting Carl Vinson Institute of Government (or a similar institution that is able to conduct a neutral study) involved for guidance in the matter; and conducting a series of charrettes. These measures would allow the citizens of Augusta Richmond County an opportunity to join in the conversations to make an informed decision.

A charter change, without seeking voter approval as well as properly educating the public on how this said change will impact our city, could potentially dismantle local government and take it out of the hands of the citizens and the officials elected to represent them.”