MACON, Ga. — For the first time in 13 years, a transition of power is underway inside the Macon-Bibb County Government Center. Mayor Robert Reichert is preparing to step down, and Mayor-Elect Lester Miller will take over.
You can tell how busy it is when you walk into the Government Center -- from the ongoing renovations to Reichert and Miller getting ready for the big transition at the beginning of the year.
The mayor's office is being renovated for the first time in at least 13 years. It's getting a fresh coat of paint and new carpet. In the hall, portraits are waiting to be hung of the new mayor and commission.
That's all in preparation for Mayor-elect Lester Miller moving in at the beginning of the year.
Meanwhile, Miller and Reichert have been busy all week.
They've had meetings and even a tour around one of the county's latest projects, the revitalization of the Booker T. Washington Center in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood. They're getting ready to pass the torch at this end of this month.
"From here on, it's going to be on his watch and he's done a wonderful job as far as attending meetings, attending events like this, so he can hit the ground running on January the first," Reichert said.
Reichert and Miller have worked together since Miller won the runoff in August to smooth the transition. In fact, Reichert invited Miller to begin attending meetings within the week of him winning the election.
"Because of his efforts, we're going to be ready on day 1 instead of day 31," Miller said.
Reichert has been sharing advice with Miller, even some that he wishes he would have known before taking office.
"It's hard work, but it's very, very rewarding. I tell people all the time, that I love being mayor. It was the hardest job I've ever had," Reichert said.
The two also discussed challenges Miller's administration may face like building partnerships with non-profits to tackle issues like poverty, homelessness, and education.
"Government cannot do it by itself, and should not do it by itself," Reichert said.
"By far the biggest challenge is going to be the global pandemic we're in right now with COVID. I think from the government itself to households to nonprofits...everybody is feeling that pinch right now," Miller said.
We were also curious to know the what questions Miller had for Reichert.
"Well, I wanted to know how much time he spends at the office each day. I asked, 'What time you come in? What time do you leave?'" Miller said. "I know it's a job that requires a 24/7 commitment. That's something I'm willing to make, and otherwise, I wouldn't put myself forward."
13 WMAZ spoke with Mayor Reichert some more Tuesday after getting a sneak peak of Mayor Elect-Miller's soon to be office. He says it's especially crucial that they have a smooth transition now because of the pandemic.
Miller told 13 WMAZ that he's already discussing executive orders and ordinances to put in place at the beginning of his term to help tackle the pandemic in the county.
Mayor-elect Lester Miller and the new commission will be sworn in next Wednesday, December 30th at the City Auditorium at 11 a.m.