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Macon-Bibb mayor candidates Miller, Whitby to debate on 13WMAZ

Candidates Lester Miller and Cliffard Whitby will be debating questions based on the issues you told us were important to you in the Listening Lab

MACON, Ga. — Correction: This story originally incorrectly described Lester Miller's Justice Works program. It is voluntary and inmates would not be required to take part.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, you’ll have a chance to hear from the two Macon-Bibb mayor candidates in a debate moderated by 13WMAZ’s Frank Malloy.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been airing stories from our interviews with the candidates on topics you told us were important to you in our Listening Lab.

The Listening Lab traveled to nine different areas in Macon-Bibb County earlier this year and you met us there – as well as online – to complete a survey telling us what in the community concerned you most.

MORE INFO: You talked. We listened. Here are the results of the 13WMAZ Listening Lab.

Your first chance to hear candidates Lester Miller and Cliffard Whitby debate on 13WMAZ will be on Tuesday at 7 p.m. It will be streamed live on our website and on the 13WMAZ Facebook page.

If you are unable to watch the debate live on Tuesday night, we will be airing it 5 p.m. Wednesday on 13WMAZ.

The last day of early voting in Macon-Bibb County is Aug. 7 and then election day will be held the following Tuesday on Aug. 11.

Here is some biographical information on the two candidates:

Lester Miller

Miller was one of the first candidates to enter the race.

He's a familiar face in Macon. He played baseball at Southwest High School and got his bachelors and law degree at Mercer University.

He's now a sole practitioner at his Macon law firm downtown. He's served on the Bibb County Board of Education for the past seven years and was board president three of the last four.

Miller said two of his priorities are lowering the crime rate and improving the staffing numbers for public safety workers. He promised to improve that in a campaign ad.

He said a solution is to implement his Justice Works program. The voluntary program would allow felons, convicted of non-violent crimes, to work jobs while incarcerated.

Miller said if the county focuses on public safety, it could also help with commercial blight and bringing business back to Macon -- another one of his priorities.

Other issues he addressed in his campaign are balancing the budget, lowering taxes and improving schools.

Cliffard Whitby

Whitby was born and raised in Macon's Unionville neighborhood and has run businesses in this city for decades.

He's also worked to bring some more businesses to Bibb County as a developer and former chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority.

After being acquitted on federal laundering and bribery charges in October 2018, Whitby said the community has been split and divided. He added that he wanted to heal the community.

Whitby said he wanted to tackle crime and blight by getting to the roots of the problem with a six-point plan he announced last November.

He says the school system is failing and that's affecting economic development. He says companies that might move to Macon turn away because of the workforce.

Whitby says to bust blight, the county has to address the "human components" that affect neighborhoods.

Here are the stories we’ve done with both candidates on the issues:

Macon mayoral candidates Miller, Whitby discuss how they'd handle COVID-19 pandemic

Macon mayoral candidates Miller, Whitby discuss county budget and spending priorities

Macon-Bibb County mayoral candidates Miller, Whitby discuss race relations

To see if you're registered to vote and where your precinct is, click here.