Candidates for Augusta mayor answer voter questions at forum

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August 23, 2006

The campaign for Augusta's mayor swung into full gear Tuesday night.

All four men running for the seat answered questions from the voters in an event in south Augusta.

It was the first time all four candidates have appeared together since announcing their intent to run.

Tuesday's forum was the first of four scheduled events during this campaign to help bring the candidates together for voters.

And all four men wasted no time saying why they are the man for the job.

"As your next mayor, I will work endlessly to promote growth and prosperity," said William "Gil" Gilyard.

"We can do better and I will do better," said Ronnie Few.

"We need to grow a tax base, we need to sell, and I am out there doing that everyday," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

"You can trust that when I say I will do it, I will," said Steven Kendrick.

Hundreds of people came out in the rain to listen to what these men had to offer.

Some came in support of certain candidates; others came with an open mind.

"I wanted to see what the candidates had to say and evaluate for myself, because it's an important time for our city," said voter William Harrison.

"I want to know why they want my vote," said voter Kathy Bean. "I don't want to be just another number. I want it to be someone whose issues are my issues."

And they heard from all the candidates:

"I have worked tirelessly to bring to you a better and more efficient government," Mayor Copenhaver said. "We did not get to this position overnight and we won't get out overnight."

"There will be no deals in the back room," said Few. "We deal on top of the table."

"Vote for someone you can trust, and I promise you the city will move forward in the right direction," Kendrick said.

"We need to make use of what we have. We need to grow Augusta for Augusta," Gilyard said.

The forum showed this campaign is already a big draw.

"Every vote counts, and I already have my registration card. I just have to wait until I turn 18," said Jacob Riffe.

Tonight's forum was the first of four roundtables hosted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Augusta Professional Firefighters.

The next forum will be held September 14 at the Eastview Community Center at 6:30.