State senators support plan that could boost mayor’s voting power

Mayor Garnett Johnson holds a news conference on a plan to give him a full vote at Augusta Commission meetings.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 1:57 PM EST
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ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - State senators approved a bill to give Richmond County voters the decision on whether the mayor should get a full vote on the Augusta Commission.

Approving the bill 32-22 Monday as they rushed to meet an important deadline, senators sent the measure to the House. If approved there, it would go to Gov Brian Kemp for his signature, and then the decision would be in voters’ hands.

Right now, the mayor can only cast a vote to break a tie, resulting in strategies among commission members that can keep the mayor from voting.


Most recently, this happened when an abstention during a commission meeting avoided a tie and blocked Mayor Garnett Johnson from voting on an ambulance contract with Gold Cross Emergency Medical Service. Ultimately, this means the state is picking an ambulance provider for the city.

The plan was unveiled nearly two weeks ago in a letter signed by Johnson and commission members Alvin Mason, Brandon Garrett, Catherine Smith McKnight, Sean Frantom and Wayne Guilfoyle.

“This is not an ask for expanded powers or authority over the City Administrator or any other personnel,” said a statement from Johnson’s office. “This is simply an ask for a more balanced structure of power which Mayor Johnson believes will help get things done for our constituents.”

Senate Bill 231 was introduced by state Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania, and Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta.