(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column of those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Augusta Press.)
Qualifying for the May nonpartisan elections ended Friday, and it was like déjà vu all over again. Many of the same candidates who ran last time and the time before that and the time before that – one even ran for Congress 46 years ago – are running again. But not necessarily for the same office they ran for before, although some are. They are:
Augusta’s serial candidates for mayor
– Dennis Williams
Augusta District 2 Commissioner Dennis Williams was the first to jump into the mayor’s race and the first to jump out. He announced his candidacy in January 2021, and his withdrawal last week.
– Steven Kendrick
Richmond County Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick ran for mayor in 2006 and is doing it again this year.
– Charlie Hannah
Hannah is in his second term on the Richmond County School Board.
– Marion Williams
Williams was first elected to the District 2 Commission seat in 1999, and served two four-year terms. He made an unsuccessful run against Corey Johnson in 2010. And he challenged incumbent state Sen. Ed Tarver for his District 22 Senate seat in 2008 and lost. Then he ran for and won the Super District 9 Commission seat in 2012 and again in 2016
– Lori Myles
Myles ran for mayor in 2014 and made the campaign trail more entertaining than it ordinarily would have been with quotes such as, “We can no longer sit back and watch ourselves make our own mistakes.” And “Princess Augusta needs a queen.”
During a Channel 6 TV forum, when asked whether she’d keep the mayoral car and gasoline card, Myles replied, “Will I take a car and gas? Oh, quite naturally. And another thing I truly believe we need to do. We need to establish a mayoral house.”
Myles also ran for the Super District 10 seat on the Augusta Commission in 2018, and the District 3 commission seat in 2020.
– A.K. Hasan
Hasan was first elected to the Richmond County Board of Education in 1982, at age 26, becoming the youngest trustee ever elected. He served on the Augusta City Council from 1988 through 1990. He then ran for the Georgia House of Representatives in 1990; and for mayor of Augusta in 1993, before running for the Georgia House again in 1994 and 2008. He ran for the Augusta Commission in 1999 and was elected to the school board in 2005.
Hasan had planned to run for the Commission District 6 seat this year but was drawn out with this year’s redistricting, so he decided to run for mayor. I read that there was some mistake about his address on one of the redistricting maps, which reminded me of what happened when he ran against Mayor Charles DeVaney in 1993.
DeVaney challenged Hasan’s qualifications to run based on his residency, which DeVaney contended was not in the city of Augusta. So, there was a Board of Elections hearing with lawyers, sworn testimony and evidence in the form of water bills and such. It was very dramatic. In the end, as I recall, Hasan was allowed to run but lost to DeVaney.
– Robert “Bob” Ingham
Ingham began running for office 46 years ago when he ran as a write-in against Democrat Doug Barnard for the 10th Congressional District seat. He ran against Barnard again in 1986 and lost. He ran unsuccessfully for the District 2 seat on the Richmond County Commission in 1991, and for the District 6 seat on the Richmond County Board of Education in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
In 2008, Ingham registered to run for governor but dropped out. He ran for the Super District 10 seat on the Augusta Commission in 2010 and for the state senate in 2012. In 2018, he tried to run as a write-in for the 12th Congressional District after losing in the Democratic primary before learning the law didn’t allow it.
Augusta’s serial candidates for commission District 2
– Von Pouncey
Pouncey, an educator and community activist, ran for the District 1 Augusta Commission seat last time and qualified for the District 2 seat Friday.
– Cleveland Garrison
Garrison, a minister, ran for the District 2 Commission seat in 2014 and 2018.
– Charles Cummings
Cummings ran for Mayor of Augusta in 2014, and for the Super District 9 seat on the Augusta Commission in 2020. Now he is running for the District 2 seat.
As a mayoral candidate, Cummings promised to improve bus service. He proposed putting kiosks in hotel lobbies with transit bus schedules. He claimed the system could generate more than $3 million a month.
“You just press on that, and that bus will be coming out front in the next five minutes,” he said.
Cummings received the lowest number of votes for mayor in consolidated Augusta’s history, but that didn’t stop him from using a similar platform when he ran for the District 9 seat in 2020..
Cummings is the former owner of Super C’s Restaurant and Bar on Tobacco Road. The commission revoked his alcohol and business license after 18-year-old Stedman Fryer was shot dead on the club’s dance floor. So, Cummings wife, Teresa Cummings, opened Mamie Lee’s Southern Cooking there in order to get a beer and wine license. Although Charles was barred from applying for a license for 10 years, as it turned out, he was involved in Mamie Lee’s, and they kept right on running a dance hall without a license. And when sheriff’s deputies raided the place and asked for owner Teresa Cummings, the people working there said they’d never heard of her.
Augusta’s serial candidates for District 4
– Alvin Mason
Interim District 4 Augusta Commissioner Mason ran for mayor in 2014, having metamorphosed into a fiscal conservative with plans to tear down the Savannah River levee. He was opposed to the rain tax, but he was for it before he suddenly turned against it on the campaign trail. In 2006, Mason ran for the District 4 seat in a special election to fill the term of Richard Colclough who resigned to run for state office. And then he ran successfully for the seat in 2007 and served two terms before running for mayor.
– Betty Reece
Reece, a former health care worker and president of the Women’s League of Voters in the CSRA, challenged now-suspended District 4 Commissioner Sammie Sias in 2018 and lost by 86 votes.
Augusta’s serial candidates for District 10
– John Clarke
Incumbent District 10 Commissioner Clarke was elected in 2018. But before his term began, sitting District 10 Commissioner Grady Smith died, and commissioners appointed Clarke to fill out Smith’s term.
Clarke, an outspoken critic of fraud, waste and abuse in government has ruffled some feathers since being on the board, especially those of some who object to his calling for a forensic audit of the entire Augusta government.
“It’s the big establishment that wants some of us out,” he said.
Asked why he wants a second term, he said, “Honestly, I have learned I love fighting for the citizens. I love going against the so-called establishment. That’s the truth. And when I rub the special interest groups, the political interest groups the wrong way, then I know I’m doing my job.”
– Wayne Guilfoyle
Guilfoyle is one of two challengers Clarke faces in the May election. Guilfoyle, a tile company owner, represented commission District 8 for two terms, from 2010 through 2018.
– Robert Cooks
Cooks, who is also challenging Clarke, is the former executive director of the now-inactive Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corporation that built houses in the Laney Walker Boulevard area in the 1990s. Cooks made unsuccessful runs for District 3 Richmond County School Board in 2018, and for the District 3 Augusta Commission seat in 2020.
The most prolific serial political candidate in Augusta’s history
– Hugh Eugene Tudor
Tudor puts Augusta’s serial political candidates in the shade. Before his death in 1981, Tudor ran for public office 35 times, mostly for Augusta City Council or mayor, but also for sheriff and Congress. But he won only once – the 4th Ward city council race in 1962, the same year he appeared on the CBS quiz show “I’ve Got a Secret.” And he’d only run 25 times by that time and would go on to lose again and again, a record of defeats thought to be a national record.