The Georgia Senate on Tuesday approved nonpartisan elections for the consolidated Macon-Bibb County government.
By a 34-15 vote, the Senate approved seven different bills covering different positions: The mayor and county commission under the merged government, coroner, magistrate judges, civil clerk, board of education, water authority and probate judge.
The vote came after less than a half hour of debate.
Macon state Sen. David Lucas argued against the changes.
"The people voted for consolidation, which you know I did not and did not support--they voted for it with partisan elections in it--then, the bill should have said that you would have an election to let the people decide whether they want partisan elections," he says. "And that is not what's happened. So, it's been a game of bait and switch."
Sen. Cecil Staton, who proposed the nonpartisan election bills, defended the move.
"We made it very clear that this was something we would want to do as soon as we possibly could, and with the change in the delegation this year, we were able to do it through local legislation. So, I have no apologies to offer for this."
The issue now moves to the Georgia House. State Rep. Allen Peake said the House could vote next week.
People in Macon and Bibb county will vote on those positions on July 16.
We'll update this story when more details are available at 13WMAZ.com.