The six men seeking the top spot of the new Macon-Bibb government met today to talk about how to move the community forward.

The forum at the Douglass Theatre was hosted by the Macon-Bibb Chamber of Commerce.

The candidates each got 45 seconds to answer each question, and they covered a variety of topics, such as crime and economic growth.

Chamber members submitted the questions.

The forum opened up with the question "What are the biggest challenges this community faces, and as mayor, how would you resolve them?"

The candidates' responses:

Joe Allen: "The biggest challenge in our community is jobs and getting our young people to work. A lot of times our young people are getting tied up with gangs, getting tied up with people they should not be tied up with. And if we start with our youth, trying to find jobs for them, try to revitalize downtown."

Charlie Bishop: "Jobs and economic development is really necessary to grow the tax base and to keep taxes low. We had a team with Pat Topping and we brought in over 4,000 jobs and close to $618 million in economic development."

David Cousino: "Education and jobs are the most priority things on our list here in Bibb County right now. Education, I would participate in the board and be on there or have a representative of the council to be on the board or be at the board meetings themselves. Also have the schools have after-school programs and to have the churches to participate."

C. Jack Ellis: "We have entirely too much poverty in our town. According to the 2010 census, 40% of our children under the age of 18 are living in poverty. Of course, poverty is tied to jobs, and education is tied to jobs and is also tied to poverty. So the three of them, you cannot separate them."

Sam Hart: "Jobs, education, crime are the things that are very important in our area and very much challenges to us. What we have to do is partner with those people responsible for education. We also have to make sure on crime that we're working on both ends, prevention, being proactive."

Robert Reichert: "Poverty and crime, the best answer to a lot of that is the availability of a high quality, high paying job. So we have to be competitive. How are we going to be competitive with other communities? Number one, you have to be politically stable, and you have to be financially stable."

Macon-Bibb voters can choose their picks for the new government on Sept. 17. Early voting begins Monday, Aug. 26.

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