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Sunday February 14th, 2016 12:09PM

Augusta-Richmond County to elect 1st black mayor

By The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) The next mayoral election in Augusta is guaranteed to make history, regardless of who wins.

All five candidates who filed qualifying paperwork last week to run for mayor are African-American. And that means Augusta-Richmond County will have its first elected black mayor since the city and county governments consolidated 18 years ago, The Augusta Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/PiULe4 ).

The candidates themselves aren't making a big deal about the racial makeup of the field in the 2014 mayor's race.

``I am excited about being the first female mayor of Augusta-Richmond County, period,'' said mayoral candidate Helen Blocker-Adams, a small business owner.

Augusta has never had a woman serve in the mayor's office, before or after consolidation. Another mayoral candidate trying to change that is school teacher Lori Myles.

The other candidates for mayor are state Sen. Hardie Davis, a south Augusta pastor and businessman; Commissioner Alvin Mason, a retired Army sergeant; and Charles Cummings, a retired restaurateur.

It won't be the first time an African-American has served in the mayor's office. Ed McIntyre was elected Augusta's first black mayor in 1981, long before consolidation. And Commissioner Willie Mays was appointed mayor of Augusta-Richmond County in 2005 to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Bob Young, who resigned to take a job in the administration of President George W. Bush.

``I don't think it's significant or important what the race is of the next mayor,'' said Commissioner Donnie Smith, one of four white members of the 10-member Augusta-Richmond County Commission. Five commissioners are black and one is Asian-American. Smith said having a black mayor ``may make some of the divisiveness that is constantly talked about go away.''

With women making up two-thirds of registered voters locally, it's possible Augusta will see a gender shift beyond just the mayor's office. Three women are running for two commission seats in the May 20 primary. Commissioner Mary Davis is the only woman currently serving.
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