Mayoral debate gets spirited as candidates compete for votes

News 12 at 11/Thursday, March 28, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A lot of back and forth, rebuttals and response at the NAACP hosted mayoral debate.

Four out of the five mayoral candidates gathered at a table at Beulah Grove Baptist Church to debate. Dr. Lori Myles was was the only one absent. News 12's Christie Ethridge helped moderate it.

Thursday night's debate had a different tone than the ones before.

"This one was a little more spirited. We had a lot more debate point and counterpoint," Commissioner Alvin Mason said.

"Getting right down to the nitty gritty," described candidate Charles Cummings.

"There was an opportunity to rebut when necessary, and that was different," Sen. Hardie Davis said.

"It really gave people an opportunity to see what we're made of," said Helen Blocker-Adams.

With questions coming mostly from the audience, candidates had a chance to answer questions straight from the voters. One of the hot topics was SPLOST VII which will be on the same ballot as the Mayor's race.

Mason, Cummings, and Blocker-Adams spoke out against it, leaving Hardie Davis standing alone in support.

"From my personal posture, there are things that are critical to our success as a community, and most importantly it's the 50 million dollars for infrastructure projects," Davis explained.

"We're asking the public to go out and vote for this package, and they didn't get an opportunity to say we want this or we want that," Mason said.

"I will not vote for SPLOST VII . It was put together real quick and there was not enough input," said Cummings.

"It doesn't have enough infrastructure for all areas of the city. It doesn't include South Augusta, East Augusta, West Augusta, and the downtown area. And more importantly, the lack of public input," explained Blocker-Adams.

Despite their differences, there's one word they all used -- "transparency."

To Davis, that means creating office hours and putting a Mayor's office in every district. To Mason, it means changing the commission meetings to a time the public could attend. Blocker-Adams says it's all about honesty with the public. For Cummings, it means following through.

In the end, four very different candidates all want the same thing. Your vote for mayor.

The debate was scheduled to end at 8 o'clock, but with so many questions flooding in, candidates and the crowd decided to go a little longer. In a strange twist, the lights went out in the building, bringing the night to a pause before we had to close.

This isn't the last time voters will get to hear from the candidates. The next debate is April 1st at Williams Memorial CME Church at 7 p.m.

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