Want to know a little secret about the debate over who will be Augusta's next mayor?
It seems a few of the city officials are starting to realize that if they can obstruct the appointment of an interim mayor long enough, Gov. Sonny Perdue gets to make the pick.
Imagine that: Augusta's government, where some of the folks went nuts at the prospect of the state Legislature passing a measure to reform the Commission, potentially could get a mayor chosen by the governor - a Republican governor, at that.
State Rep. Sue Burmeister, who has been thus far unsuccessful in her quest to end gridlock in city government, sees the possibility of that gridlock now working in favor of conservatives. All they need to do is snarl things up until Aug. 5. By law, then, the governor would choose the interim mayor, and potentially give a boost to a candidate for the permanent post.
Of course, another possibility is that these same conservatives could just go ahead and appoint the erratic Marion Williams as interim mayor. He'd have to resign his commission seat to take the post, and then would likely get voted out of office in favor of another candidate to fill the unexpired term. The city would then be rid of one of its most divisive figures, at least until he decided to run for something else.
Will Augusta's conservatives do it? Probably not, especially if they're hoping to put on a unified front as the upcoming bond referendum approaches. But it's fun to think about.
By the way: Burmeister, who next year will face re-election in a district that includes part of Columbia County, makes it clear that she is indeed running to return to her seat.
"I have been hearing of my demise as a state legislator since I have been told that I have supposedly said I am not running after this term," Burmeister tells me. "No such thing is happening! I have every intention of running again. I have a few more legislative agenda items I would like to see pass, plus I am certainly not ready to give up on Augusta."
The vacation is over.
That's the word from Doug Duncan, one of Columbia County's top citizens and political operatives, who was pulled out of Evans this past year for a new job in Ohio.
He happily writes from the Midwest that he's returning to Columbia County. His company, Duncan says, "wanted me to move to Minneapolis instead of back to Augusta. So I began to look. I'm going to work with Randy Hatcher at MAU."
Duncan and his wife, are pretty potent political volunteers; Doug helped get Steve Brown elected just before leaving, and with Brown not running for re-election, Doug likely will be a key player in filling this County Commission seat. The 2006 political season will be a lot more energized.
Welcome home, folks.
Big heart mending
Everyone who has ever worked with Steve Jones of the Columbia County Recreation Department knows he's got a heart of gold.
But it took surgeons, not jewelers, to fix that heart this past week.
It seems that while setting up Patriots Park for the home debut of the Augusta FireBall soccer team, Jones got the classic tightness in his chest and left arm numbness, and soon found himself at Doctors Hospital. He was later transferred to University, where surgeons performed a triple-bypass.
Jones is doing better now, recovering at home. Knowing him, he's itching to get back to work. Hopefully he'll take his time on recovery; Steve is one of the best employees of Columbia County government, and he deserves plenty of time to recuperate.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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