MACON, Ga. —

Cliffard Whitby formally announced his run for Macon-Bibb County mayor on Friday.

Whitby says now is the time for him to run.

"Our community needs to come together. Frankly, if I can serve to bring this community together, all the efforts I’ve made in the past few years wouldn’t go in vain," Whitby said.

If elected, he says the first item on his agenda will be to sort out the budget issues the county has faced. He says the issues are mainly due to consolidation.

“I’m under no illusion -- this is a tough situation to come in. We got to get a handle on a lot of things in our consolidated government,” Whitby said.

Macon politicians C. Jack Ellis and Elaine Lucas are supporting Whitby’s decision to run.

“This is a man who has put forth a vision and a platform for this city,” Ellis said. 

“I can’t think of a better person to offer himself, especially with all the trials he’s gone through, with all the fire that has been thrown at him, he’s survived,” Lucas said.

Those trials are the allegations of fraud, bribery, and money laundering.

It was less than a year ago that Whitby was acquitted for federal fraud charges.

"In the end, the jury didn’t drink the Kool-Aid," Whitby said after being acquitted in October 2018. 

Whitby said those allegations won’t pose a challenge in the race.

"Actually, I think the vindication is a benefit. I'm not going to linger on the past. The past is in the past," Whitby said. "What we're going to do is come together and pull all our resources and work collaboratively. I think I have a track record of doing just that."

Over 100 people attended Whitby’s announcement on Friday. Whitby and those who back him say the amount of support he’s already received is a sign that previous allegations against him won’t affect him in the race.

"This is home. People know my work, they know my heart. People know what I’ve tried to do in the community," Whitby said. 

So far, eight other people have filed papers to run in the 2020 mayor's race.

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