Nearly eight years ago, I ran to be elected to what would become my first term as Mayor of Augusta. That was a decision I came to after much prayer, thought, and discussion. Before that, I ran and was elected to represent our community in the Georgia Legislature. Again, a deeply personal decision that I, Hardie Davis, Jr., came to.
In my time as the city’s Mayor, state representative, and as a forty-plus year resident, I have never witnessed the attacks that are currently being lobbed at my staff. This is disgraceful, unfair, and, in my opinion, bordering on libelous.
As the elected official, the public has every right to question me, voice their concerns, express their discontent, and share their joys. That is what I signed up for as the person who put their name on the ballot. However, my staff members, like other city staff, are not elected officials. Their job is to provide support to my office and assist the citizens who call, visit, and email us for various constituent service needs.
I worked diligently to ensure the members of our community had a Mayor’s office that was responsive to the unique needs of our citizens, this entailed hiring staff that were born and raised in our city and state. Staff who know the people that were coming into our doors and understood their struggles and triumphs. Dedicated public servants who shared my strong desire to move our city forward to create a better life for all Augustans. That is why I made sure to hire hard working, compassionate, and extremely competent support staff in my administration.
After serving as President of the African American Mayor’s Association, I was able to convince one of my counterpart’s staffers and another counterpart’s former staffer to join my team in Augusta. They both did so at a tremendous reduction in their salaries, foregoing more prominent and/or lucrative job opportunities, and moving hundreds of miles from already established careers.
They did this because I was able to convey to them the love and passion I have for how much greater our city can be and I knew they were uniquely able to help our city grow and achieve its full potential. Despite knowing their tenure would end in two years and undaunted by the enormity of the task before them, they relocated to our city because they saw the potential Augusta has to be a world-class city, removed from the shadows of the capital city.
They also did it because they saw the challenges facing our city and wanted to contribute to solving them, whether it is our rampant blight, rate of homelessness, lack of affordable housing, rampant disparities, and, of course, navigating the impact of the pandemic.
My entire staff came in with new ways to accomplish the ideas I have for our city. They have grabbed the bull by the horns and coming in every day relishing the opportunity to help address the challenges facing every day Augustans. They did not come here, in the midst of a global pandemic, with the intention of being subjected to attacks on their character, integrity, and work ethic by an organization that is funded by someone who has active contracts with the city.
I draw the line at attacks on my staff, especially when they have done nothing wrong and have been nothing but cordial to the very people who are attempting to drag their names through the mud for internet clicks. I am the elected official, they are not.
Hardie Davis, Jr., Mayor