by Randall Savage, 13WMAZ.com
- Bibb's Democratic Party hosted separate forums for candidates in the race for the consolidated District 2 and District 3.
- The District 2 candidates are Henry Ficklin, Larry Schlesinger and Paul Bronson.
- The District 3 candidates are Elaine Lucas, Danny Glover and Terry Tripp.
The Democratic Party of Bibb County kicked off the political season Thursday by hosting separate forums for the candidates of the District 2 and District 3 seats on the new Macon-Bibb County government.
Moderator Homer Scarborough asked the same questions at both forums. The issues ranged from how to create jobs and balance the budget to the commission's role in education and downtown revitilization.
Veteran Councilman Henry Ficklin faces fellow Councilman Larry Schlesinger and Army Reserve Officer Paul Bronson in the District 2 contest.
Ficklin said his experience with city government gives him an advantage when it comes to dealing with issues such as the budget and creating jobs.
In the past, Ficklin noted that he served as chairman of council's Finance Committee. That experience would enable him to make the 20 percent cuts in governmental spending that the General Assembly mandated during the first five years of the new government.
But Bronson, an unsuccessful mayoral candidate two years ago, said new people with fresh ideas would best serve the community as officials transition into the consolidated government.
Schlesinger, current council president pro-tem, didn't attend the forum. He told 13WMAZ later he had a prior commitment.
In the District 3 contest, veteran Councilwoman Elaine Lucas meets community activist Danny Glover and former Bibb school board member Terry Tripp.
Lucas also touted her experience on City Council. She noted that she's served on the Finance Committee and gained experience that would be beneficial as the new government works to balance the budget and make the 20 percent cuts.
She also said she works to help her constituents at all times. But Glover challenged her on that, saying she supported the $45 per month garbage fee, which he would work to eliminate.
"One of the first things I would focus on is the mandate of the government tax in which my opponent voted for three times," Glover said.
"She speaks of protecting the under-serviced and under privileged people in our community, but for a person making $17,000 a year, $45 for their garbage is entirely too much."
Lucas countered that those remarks showed his inexperience. She said officials must have revenue to balance the budget and that the garbage contributes to that.
"This is where inexperience comes in, where people sit and make promises, and they don't know what they're talking about," Lucas said. "Certainly, we don't want to cut public safety. Certainly, there are areas where we can cut back in."
Tripp noted that she worked with budgets while serving on the school board, and that experience would help her deal with the new commission's finances.
"I have served with a huge budget on the school board," Tripp said. "Our budget was sometimes 600 to 700 pages. I've worked with it before. I don't have a problem doing that. But my concern is waste. I found that when I would take the budget home and take the time to go through it, it was amazing how many things I saw there that we didn't need to have."
The forums were held in the council chambers at Macon City Hall. They were the first of four forums the Democratic Party plans to hold before the July 16 election.