PERRY, Ga. — The City of Perry will choose a new mayor next month.
They're holding a special election to fill the vacancy left by former Mayor Jimmy Faircloth.
He abruptly resigned in May. Now, two candidates are running to replace him.
Robbin Jackson says he works several jobs, including substitute teaching at Houston County schools.
Randall Walker is a former Perry City Council member who vacated his seat to run in this race for mayor. He worked as a district sales manager for Chevron.
One of them will be mayor by the end of election day on September 17th.
When asked why he wants to be mayor, Walker cited his years of experience in city government.
"During that period, I have really had the opportunity to understand what the citizens needs are in this town, and I also have developed a really in-depth knowledge of what it takes to run an effective and efficient city government," he said.
When Jackson was asked the same question, he said he wanted to be an agent of change.
"I'm running to be the Perry mayor because it's about time we start changing things around instead of the status quo," said Jackson.
That status quo, in his view, involves racist attitudes in the city.
"There is a history of racism and I do believe racism still exists in the City of Perry, but we're going to try to overcome it by electing the first black mayor of the City of Perry," said Jackson.
Walker said the he thinks the city, especially those who lead it, support and celebrate Perry's diversity.
"We have a very diverse council, both race and gender," he said. "We're continuing to promote that. I think all of the committees that serve in the city are representative of the diversity of our city. Our city is becoming far more diverse," he said.
Jackson said if elected, he would prioritize funding for senior citizen resources and work to revitalize downtown.
Walker said he would work to continue Perry's focus on improving quality of life for citizens (like through Parks and Recreation projects), maintain the city's "strong" financial position, continue to insure public safety, and create an environment where business and industry can "flourish."
Walker is a property owner in the city's downtown corridor. He said he owns "eight" properties there.
Jackson argued that would be a "conflict of interest."
When asked, Walker disagreed.
"My wife and I have chosen to invest in this downtown, to redevelop many of the stores that are here and refurbish them and bring new entrepreneurs downtown," he said.
If he was elected and a measure to give tax breaks to downtown entrepreneurs came before the city council, he said he would recuse himself from the vote.
"Definitely," he said. "Not only that, my wife and I do not take any incentives from the city or the state because of that reason."
Jackson also discussed the city's Confederate monuments.
We asked if he would move to tear them down if he was elected.
"That would may be [sic] a great idea," he said. "I know some of thems [sic] are saying that it's historical, so if they're having a Confederate flag statue, then put up one with the Union on it. That would be fair as far as you don't want to tear it down, but if you're not going to put up one representing the Union, then you should tear it down or have it moved or have it moved someplace else besides having the government taking care of it with taxpayer money."
Walker, when asked how he would handle that situation, said he'd leave the decision to the citizens.
"I would do whatever the citizens ask me to do," he said. "If the citizens want it removed, that's what we'll do. If they want to keep it, that's what we'll do, too."
Early voting begins Monday at the Houston County Board of Elections office in the old courthouse in downtown Perry.
Election day is September 17th. Voting on election day will take place at Rozar Park, not the Board of Elections office.
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