After an election, and then another runoff election, the new make-up of Warner Robins Mayor and Council met for the first time Tuesday night.
Jacob Reynolds was there to ask the newly sworn-in leaders what their priorities are in their next few years.
It was a festive and crowded night at the first Warner Robins council meeting of 2018 and the first meeting as a new governing body.
The council is now Keith Lauritsen, Clifford Holmes, Tim Thomas, Mike Davis, Daron Lee, and Carolyn Robbins.
Mayor Randy Toms and councilmembers Keith Lauritsen, Clifford Holmes, and Daron Lee were officially sworn-in to their seats. Toms, Lauritsen, and Holmes are all returning after winning reelection.
Mayor Toms made it clear what his first goal is.
“We certainly, we have things in place to see things happening, in these next four years, I want us to be able to say in the next four years, we have a downtown now that we can be proud of,” Toms said after the meeting.
Newest councilmember Daron Lee laid out his main task.
“Improve our communication. Communication prior to pre-council and pretty much bring our strengths to the table, and pretty much bring our strengths to the table, so pretty much work on our collaborative efforts in order to move forward to complete some of the projects that we have,” Lee explained.
Lee also said he wanted to make good on his campaign promises of looking at blight, and continuing to add improvements for young people and seniors.
In his second term, Lauritsen says he wants to shift his attention to the Warner Robins Police Department, after spending a lot of his first term focusing on recreation.
“Well, I think we've got to focus on public safety. I think we've got to make sure we reduce crime in our city, and I think that's going to come from adding police officers to the force and becoming more proactive and preventive with crime,” Lauritsen said after taking a picture with his family.
Councilman Clifford Holmes, about to serve his ninth year on council, also wanted to make sure police reflect the community.
“One of the primary priorities of the constituency is more minority policemen are hired. That's a push and I've always asked for that, so that's going to be another thing I talk to the chief about, again,” Holmes told WMAZ.
Holmes becomes the longest serving councilman in Warner Robins with his ninth year. He served four years, took four off after losing a run for the mayor’s office, and then serving four years last term. He was reelected without facing an opponent.
Holmes says his proudest accomplishments are helping to get the Little League Park in Warner Robins and overseeing its completion, as well as being elected three times by the people of Warner Robins.
The only flare-up in the night's pre-council meeting was about a new city-owned car for Mayor Toms. The car purchase was eventually approved for $49,000. Toms says the day after his reelection, the 2011 city-owned Toyota Avalon he currently drives was damaged in an accident.
Last year, the former Council approved the creation of a city administrator position that was set to take effect on December 31 of 2017.
However, when it was passed, the Council decided not to touch it again until after the elections and a new administration was in place.
Tuesday night we asked where they all stand on the issue. Holmes said he needed more details, but in general supports someone coming in to help communication and organization.
Robbins supports what she called a ‘Council Administrator’ to help them with communication and other issues.
Davis said he needed more info, when it was passed last year he was the only vote against. Lauritsen said he still supported the position. Thomas also expressed his support.
Lee agreed it would be helpful having someone help run day to day operations while the Mayor focused on economic development and marketing the city. He added it would be good to have someone else assist the mayor and council who has experience and expertise in management and city government.
Several council members expect it to come up at a future meeting within the beginning of the year.
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