Saying he will make it his business to help Twiggs County grow, Clyde Riggins is challenging longtime incumbent Tommie Lee Bryant in the Democratic primary for the District 1 County Commission seat.
I want to be a voice for the people, said Riggins, who is retired from the Macon Water Authority.
The winner of the primary will face Republican Brett Cummings, a teacher, in November.
Were on the outskirts of Bibb County, but we still dont have equipment for emergencies, Riggins said. We dont have the jobs. Everything is passing us by.
Bryant, who has been in office more than 25 years, declined to speak with The Telegraph about his platform or plans for the next four years should he win re-election.
You wont get a profile from me, he said.
Bryant also refused to speak with the newspaper before the 2008 election, when he was returned to office with a commanding majority of the votes.
If elected, Riggins said he would cooperate with the other commissioners to get things done.
We have to work together, he said.
Riggins said his focus would be on economic growth, emergency response, recreation and water accessibility.
Every county close to us has a field for kids to play on, he said. Recreation is jobs. Its not only for the kids and community, but you need someone to take care of it and run it.
He said the county could look at property it now owns as places for recreation.
Put it to use, Riggins said.
He said Academy Sports wanted to sponsor some recreation activities, but the current commissions couldnt agree to some things and the plan fell apart.
If someone wants to help you, youve got to work with them and not against them, Riggins said.
He also said the county needs to do more to expand a water system, which he said now runs only in the area around Academy Sports.
If you go to counties around us, they have water, Riggins said. Our homeowners insurance is higher than any county around us.
He said an improved water system and better fire protection could mean hundreds of dollars in insurance savings for homeowners.
In my district, near my house there is not a hydrant within 12 miles.
Riggins said the county also needs to find a way to purchase emergency vehicles and have staffed responders in the county.
If an accident happens, an ambulance has to come from the Medical Center and the response time is 45 minutes, he said. Volunteer is good, but nothing is better than having a full-fledged system you can count on.
Riggins said the county also needs to work with its state representatives to find solutions and funding assistance for these problems.
There are grants out there, Riggins said. We have to apply for them.
He declined to specifically address what he could offer voters that Bryant could not.
Hes been there 27 years. His years speak for themselves, he said.
Riggins ran unsuccessfully against Bryant in 2000 and 2004.
Bryant made news this last term when he sued Twiggs Countys other commissioners and its county manager, claiming he had not been paid a state mandated longevity increase.
At the time, Bryant said he should have started receiving a 2.5 percent raise in January 2009 and was due $456.55 in pay and $100 in unspecified costs.
A judge later ruled that the county had not been paying Bryant the required longevity raise, but that he had actually been overpaid on his commissioners salary.