State House District 142 candidates disagree on cooperation

mlee@macon.comJuly 21, 2012 

  • State House District 142 candidates

    Gerald Harvey
    Age: 62
    Party: Democrat
    Occupation: Retired
    Political experience: Macon city councilman 1979-87

    Nikki Randall
    Age: 40
    Party: Democrat
    Occupation: Marketing manager
    Political experience: State House member since 1999

ATLANTA -- Former Macon City Councilman Gerald Harvey is challenging incumbent state Rep. Nikki Randall in the Democratic primary race to represent District 142, which includes parts of Macon and Bibb County.

They agree that economic development is the biggest issue in the district, but they very much disagree on how constructive relations are between the folks at home and the local leadership in Atlanta.

Harvey admitted that knowing the economy is the problem is a “horse of a different color” than knowing how to fix it.

He said he supports tax incentives to lure businesses to Macon, but he also said any company that gets breaks “must live up to what they’re going to do.” He said he wants to see evidence-based measures of job creation put in place.

Education could get more money, Harvey said. He knows state tax receipts are down and spending has been cut, but “economically everybody’s hurting right now -- it’s what we deem as priorities. I would re prioritize some things.”

Harvey accused Bibb County’s current lot of legislators of “lack communication and dialogue” with Macon and Bibb County leaders. He pointed out that due to the Bibb County Board of Education and the county’s legislators failing to work from the same redistricting map, a costly special election is going to have to be held for the board.

“All you had to do was pick up the phone and start some dialogue,” he said, suggesting that the lack of a phone call was due to some sort of horse-trading involving the consolidation bill and redistricting.

And “to change maps so drastically” for the Bibb County Commission and the Macon Water Authority was “just wrong on the delegation’s part,” he said.

Harvey opposes consolidation and doesn’t believe promises of saving money.

“All you do is eliminate a number of elected officials. I think (saving money with consolidation) is a farce,” he said.

Randall said her economic development plan, which is already under way, involves knitting the region closer together and offering it as a package to investors and “creating a regional concept here in Middle Georgia,” she said.

“I introduced the first piece of that this session by changing the transit authority,” she said.

Her successful House Bill 1206 allows the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority to contract outside of Bibb, which could result in some new bus links with neighboring counties, employment centers and schools.

And if re-elected, “one of the things we plan to do as a delegation is take a look at our authorities, what we can do better through those authorities,” she said. Besides transit and water authorities, a pair of authorities work on economic development.

“We’ll probably do a whole revamping of those … add some duties or see what they’re doing,” she said. Much of the shape of a redo would depend on whether consolidation passes.

Regarding education, Randall predicted it’s “not going to improve until the state holds up its part of the deal -- that’s fully funding QBE,” or the Quality Basic Education formula, which the state uses to divide money among school systems.

She sees a large part of her mission as being in touch with area governing bodies such as the school board, as well as individual constituents.

She said she should help them achieve what they need, as well as be an advocate and a contact with state government.

As far as the cash race, Randall collected nearly $52,000 in the second quarter of 2012. About $20,000 came from lobbies, the rest mostly from Macon individuals, businesses and a handful of Georgia politicians.

Harvey raised $2,600, more than half of it his own personal money.

The winner of the July 31 Democratic primary will go to Atlanta in January. There is no Republican in the race.

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