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Bibb Delegation Gets Community Wish Lists

5:46 PM, Nov 27, 2012   |    comments
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Macon and Bibb community leaders handed local delegation members a laundry list of requests to consider in the next legislative session.

Many discussions focused on redevelopment plans and tax incentives. Transportation projects also rolled into several presentations.

People like Bibb Chairman Sam Hart say even though the TSPLOST, a proposed regional transportation splost, did not pass, the project list still exists.

That includes things like widening Bass Road and lengthening the runway at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert and several others asked legislators to find other ways to fund the projects.

He says, "Find out what was the problem, what did we do wrong, why did this not pass? Was it the list of projects or was it which county got what projects? What was it that was our problem? And then try to develop the regional consensus that we need. There really is no plan B for transportation issues and we have serious transportation issues in the middle Georgia region that we need to address."

Legislation says a region must wait two years before voting on another TSPLOST.

While many of the community groups agreed on getting in front of that timetable and other issues like boosting develioment, their opinions differed when it came to non-partisan elections.

State Representative Allen Peake and Senator Cecil Staton plan to kick off the legislative session with a bill to take party lines out of local elections.

Peake says, "There's not going to be consistency among members on the support or non support for this issue, but I think it's something the community wants. I think it's something that we need. At the end of the day, a local elected position should be about who is most competent and most qualified, and I think that's the route we need to go."

Some delegation members think voters should know a candidates party affiliation. Macon Mayor Robert Reichert says he's in favor of non-partisan elections but proposed a compromise.

His idea follows the same format as state special elections. There is no primary election, where voters have to choose either a democratic or republican ballot. Instead, all of the candidates will appear on one ballot but with their party affiliation next to their name.

He says many delegation members have been open to considering this option.

"This is kind of a way you can blend the two," he says.

His idea caught the attention of some elected officials like State Representative Nikki Randall, who wants party labels on the ballot.

She says, "I could probably live with that compromise. I think it's important that the general public knows which party that these candidates affiliate with."

Bibb County Chairman Sam Hart says he thinks the delegation should hold off on the partisan, non-partisan discussions, at least until after next year's session.

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