WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Three city council seats are up for grabs in Warner Robins.
Early voting is underway, and 13WMAZ wanted to take a closer look at the candidates running for Posts 2, 4, and 6.
First, we'll introduce you to Kevin Lashley, who will face incumbent Tim Thomas in the November 5th election.
We asked each candidate the same questions, starting with, 'Why are you running?'
Tim Thomas said it's because he enjoys serving the people of Warner Robins.
"It’s not about money. It’s about getting goals accomplished, and I enjoy that. I did a checklist over the last four years of things I promised four years ago. I completely checked all of them off the box," he said.
He said he's particularly proud of the new fire department in the district, the new water system, Pure Flavor, the new veterans memorial, and visitors center.
We asked Kevin Lashley the same question.
"I want to make a difference in the city -- bring some change, some civility, some transparency to how our city government is being run," he said.
Next, we asked how the candidates would prioritize city spending.
Thomas said the city needs to look at the sewer system.
"We’re at capacity. The problem that I have with it is this, it’s basically going to be in the Bonaire area which is county. Before we obligate money to that area, we’re gonna have to get with the county commissioners and say, 'Let’s talk about the funding,'" he said.
Lashley said before he can look at where the money will go, first he wants to look back at where it's been going.
"There have been calls for a forensic audit. Even some of the sitting councilmen have played with the idea of doing it. I think that was mostly to appease voters. I’m actually gonna sit in my chair and the very first week we’re in there, I’m gonna ask along with some of the other people that are running. We’re gonna ask for a forensic audit," he said.
Then, he said, they can look at the new budget.
"There’s a need for more code enforcement. With my background in insurance work and everything else, I know the need for an updated fire department and our fire department has actually worked really hard to get to where they are. If we don’t continue to increase their capabilities, we’re gonna start slipping back, which, in the long run, that’s gonna cost every homeowner in Warner Robins more money," he said.
We also asked the candidates what they think is the biggest issue the city faces.
Thomas thinks it's utilities.
"We’ve got to make sure we’re able to move over the next 20 years, but at the same time, we don’t need to burden the future taxpayers. In other words, the Bonaire area again. Who’s gonna fund it? What’s it gonna cost and what’s our benefit? That’s gonna be the question.”
Lashley said he thinks it's lack of team work between council and the mayor.
"My goal is to go in and fix that charter back to the original state that it was. The strong CEO of mayor, the legislative body to help assist and then move from there towards possibly looking into a city planner, somebody to help guide how we grow this city," he said.
Both candidates agreed that if elected, they will work towards getting the police department fully-staffed.
“I’d like to see us not just fully-staffed but I’d like to see us add 10 to 20 more officers. Auxiliary officers are important to me because that can fill a void of, say, accidents in parking lots, handling ball games, patrolling our parks and recreation. That takes the stress off of our mandated officers,” said Thomas.
Lashley said crime and blight are two other issues the city needs to be focusing on. He said he feels uniquely qualified to deal with blighted properties because of his work at ServePro, which specializes in water and fire cleanup and restoration.
"The blight of the older areas. Dealing with asbestos, dealing with lead, dealing with dilapidated properties in general," he said.
Thomas urges voters to look at his record and years of experience.
“Everything in my district I have promised, I have checked off my list -- from low taxes, water pressures, water system coming new over there," he said. "We’ve completed that, and I’m proud of that."
Lashley also has a message for voters as they head to the polls.
"I’m not coming into this, you know, not thinking that it’s gonna be a difficult job," he said. "I’m not gonna sit there and focus on pet projects. My entire project is the entire city. I want the entire city to grow. I want the entire city to be the vision that we all have for it -- working hand-in-hand with the base, working hand--hand with communities around us to make all of middle Georgia a better place."
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