Bibb County officials seek election reform

A group of eight Bibb County officials made it known in early September their plan to ask local legislators to make county elections nonpartisan.
The officials included Bibb County Solicitor-General Otis Scarbary, Probate Judge William Self, District Attorney Greg winters, Sherriff Jerry Modena, Superior Court Clerk Dianne Brannen and Coroner Leon Jones.
The group is hoping for two more signatures from Civil Court Judge William Randall and Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders within the coming weeks.
The eight county officials who signed the resolution made it known to legislators and the press that they believed their jobs to be apolitical and so neither should their elections be political.
The proposed resolution would change the face of Bibb county elections by once and for all removing any suggestion that the elected jobs are done in a Democratic or Republican way.
If this resolution is agreed upon by local legislators, it will be turned into a bill that will be ushered through as local legislation in spring 2012 to make the 2012 county elections independent of party.
Officials are hoping that this resolution, if passed, will eliminate conflicts of interest and appeared conflicts of interests.
Sherriff Modena also made known that an association of Georgia sheriffs has been pushing for statewide nonpartisan elections since the early 2000s.
Modena stated that nonpartisan elections will allow for more focus on the elections and keep better focus for officeholders because the officials will work for the people, not for their political parties.
This decision came on the heels of Macon’s mayoral elections that took place over the summer.
Macon’s race for the mayoral election began in June 2011 with the announcement that the mayoral ticket would include four Democratic candidates and one independent write-in.
Qualifying for the partisan candidates for the election ended the first Friday in June. The five member ticket set the stage for the primary mayoral election that took place on July 19.
Macon’s last mayoral race took place in 2007, but much has changed in Macon since the last election, including the economic recession that hit the United States hard and Macon voters stood curious as to how the new candidates would deal with these issues.
This year’s mayoral ticket offered both old and new faces, including Macon-Bibb County firefighter Paul W. Bronson, Georgia Senate minority leader Robert Brown, write-in David Cousino, former Mayor Jack Ellis, and current Mayor Robert Reichert.
Brown hoped to persuade Macon’s voting public to choose him with promises to attract businesses to the east and south sides of town, including downtown.
Brown said the main issues he hoped to work on included decreasing crime, working on the civic-infrastructure and “belt-tightening in city government.”
Cousino made it known that he was not one of the “good ole boys” of local government and chose to work on waking up Macon’s unregistered voters to spur his election numbers.
Former Mayor Ellis’ campaign centered on crime, job creation and community revitalization; while Mayor Reichert focused on economic revitalization and passage of an urban redevelopment plan.
In the July 19 runoff it was Reichert who stood victorious, beating Ellis by a narrow margin of votes.
Reichert said later that if he had known the margin of victory was so close, he would have spent more time campaigning and more time away from his mayoral duties.
With that said, Reichert has begun focusing on mending the rifts that local elections make within the community by re-establishing connections with local ministers who backed Ellis.
With the proposed resolution of nonpartisan elections looming overhead and Reichert’s second term as mayor, Macon’s political climate is heating up.