Warner Robins Mayor and Council were at some points passionately at odds about creating a city administrator to help run the city's day to day operations.
Jacob Reynolds was there to watch the spirited debate unfold at Monday night’s meeting at City Hall.
The debate started when Councilman Keith Lauritsen brought up a proposed ordinance he wanted to put on the agenda to spark public conversation about creating a city administrator.
The ordinance says it would create the position, determine powers and duties, and lays out the administrator’s role in the government.
This article will include several portions of the debate:
Councilman Chuck Shaheen: Right now we got no plan and no vision.
Councilman Mike Davis: Chuck it ain't no different today than it's been for the last 7 years.
Shaheen: 70 years.
Davis: I'm just talking about under your administration, what was the plan?
Shaheen: I'm not going to debate with you Mike.
It was a lively debate that lasted more than 15 minutes as Mayor Randy Toms and Council members went back and forth about the ordinance.
Supporters, like Councilman and former mayor Chuck Shaheen, say it would make day to day operations run smoother.
Shaheen: We're good, we could be great. There ya go. That's my views on it. I've sat-- and I've sat there for four years.
Davis: You sure did.
Along with the jabs, came accusations.
Mayor Randy Toms and Councilman Mike Davis raised concern about meetings member of Council were having with each other.
Councilman Davis said he had received Facebook messages about a meeting involving three members of Council and a potential applicant for the city administrator position, which does not exist yet.
Council members Holmes, Tim Thomas, and Carolyn Robbins said they did have a meeting with a mayor from another Georgia city interested in the job who asked questions about the city’s process and potential for a city administrator. The three said repeatedly that they did not offer anything, interview the man, or treat the meeting like a job interview.
Mayor Randy Toms took it a step further saying he had suspicions members of Council were meeting and not disclosing it publicly, which is required when four or more Council members meet at a time.
Holmes: Mayor, I'm going to interrupt you, sir. With all due respect—
Shaheen: Thank you, thank you Clifford, that's a low blow.
Holmes: With all due respect, you-- I have, first of all I have--
Toms: I'm not talking about this meeting!
Holmes: No, no, no, no! First of all, I've never been in a closed meeting that was illegal.
Councilman Shaheen told the Mayor defiantly to report it, if he was convinced there was wrongdoing.
Shaheen: Turn it in tomorrow and let it go before the state and see if the state says we did something wrong. And quit using it as a little toy to try to intimidate us. 'Cause you don't intimidate me.
Holmes: I don't intimidate very easily.
Shaheen: I don't intimidate either, 'cause we're in trouble next year like Mr. Thomas said, and you've got no plan. No plan!
Eventually, the Council added the ordinance to the agenda for their official meeting, but just as a first reading. They never took a vote on creating the position.
Holmes says the debate has become political.
“I don't want to touch it till after the election because I don't want this to be an influencing factor in who runs or who does not run,” Holmes said after the meeting.
Holmes plans to be on the ballot again for his Post 5 seat this November. He expressed concern that the City is discussing the role of a city administrator, but so far has not presented any plans on how to pay for it.
After the meeting, Councilman Tim Thomas said he supported the ordinance being read Monday to let voters and anyone running for office know that the City is considering creating the role of an administrator. But, Thomas says he would not vote to fund or create the position until the new administration is in place in January.
Voters will also head to the polls for the mayor’s position in November.
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