Macon City Councilman Larry Schlesinger announced Thursday morning he will run for the District 2 seat of the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated government.
There will be nine commission seats elected from districts and a new countywide mayor, all of whom will take office in January 2014 as current city and county governments dissolve.
All beginnings are difficult, said Schlesinger, 62, rabbi of Temple Beth Israel. The coming consolidation creates monumental times for us all, he said, citing himself as an example of pragmatic, progressive leadership.
Schlesinger was elected to his at-large council seat as a Democrat in 2007, then won a second term in 2011. He has served as council president pro tempore since June 2011.
The announcement came at the house of his friend Sherry Williamson, three blocks from Schlesingers own home. About 20 supporters lined up behind him, including former City Council president and ex-state Sen. Miriam Paris and Mercer University President Bill Underwood.
Tony Lowden, executive director of Stone Academy, is Schlesingers campaign chairman. Lowden said someone able to bring city and county interests together is needed on the new commission, and that Schlesinger can do so.
Schlesinger said he has fought to bring good jobs to Macon and to serve the most vulnerable residents. Hes done so not out of personal ambition but from a commitment to public service, he said.
Together we can build a better Macon, Schlesinger said.
He declined to answer questions on any specific issues, saying his campaign advisers told him not to do so yet.
Under the new district maps, which will replace current city wards and county commission districts, Schlesinger is in the same territory as fellow council incumbents Henry Ficklin and Rick Hutto.
The new District 2 has about 17,500 residents, of whom roughly 13,000 are voting age. About three-quarters are Democrats. Slightly less than one-third of District 2 residents are white, and two-thirds are black.
The southern half is roughly contiguous with Schlesingers current Ward 3, but the northern half includes parts of what are now Ward 1 and Ward 5, plus a bit of unincorporated Bibb County. It runs from around Northside Drive on the east side of Interstate 75, including the oldest part of Macon around Fort Hawkins and Ocmulgee National Monument, then crosses the Ocmulgee River to cover the southern part of downtown Macon and the thinly-populated industrial area around Walker Swamp.
Many other city and county incumbents could face multiple challenges if they run for the new commission, but two of the districts -- around Northside Drive in north Macon and around Hartley Bridge Road in south Bibb County -- have no incumbents living in them.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jim Gaines call 744-4489.