Three announce runs for Macon-Bibb commission

pramati@macon.comFebruary 20, 2013 

Three more candidates emerged Wednesday for seats on the new consolidated Macon-Bibb County Commission.

Realtor Mallory Jones III, attorney Mike Cranford and software designer Eric Arnold announced their runs -- Jones with a news conference, Cranford by e-mail, Arnold by phone.

Jones believes that he’s in a position to be both an ambassador for the community as well as someone who has his pulse on the issues facing that community.

That’s why he’s running for the District 4 commission seat, he announced Wednesday.

Jones ran unsuccessfully for the Bibb County Commission District 3 seat last year against eventual winner Gary Bechtel and former Bibb County Coroner Ed Bond. Jones, who missed getting into a runoff with Bechtel by 48 votes, said he’s learned to be more cost-effective in his campaigning this time around.

“I know how to market myself,” he said. “Basically, I want to make people aware of me.”

Cranford, a former Macon city councilman, seeks to return to office in the District 7 commission seat, the same seat that Arnold is running for. That’s one of two districts on the nine-member commission that is home to no incumbents.

Cranford, 67, was Ward 2, Post 2 representative on from 1995 to 1999, then again from 2005 to 2011, when he lost a Democratic primary challenge to current Councilman Henry Gibson, a retired Macon police detective.

Cranford chaired the council Appropriations Committee through financial hardships in that second term, during which he also helped negotiate the current service delivery agreement between Macon and Bibb County, and also the 2011 special purpose local option sales tax project list, he said in an e-mail.

“I have been in business for myself for over 40 years and I have been an attorney for 25 years,” Cranford wrote. “Therefore I think my business experience and my legal experience puts me in a unique position to again help the City and County make this transition.”

Arnold, 38, has never run for political office, but believes a new government means an opportunity for new voices to be heard.

“I look at the Macon-Bibb County new consolidated government, and I see the need for fresh faces,” he said. “We don’t need the same old faces with the same old hostilities.”

Arnold said he remembers when the Macon Mall area was thriving with businesses, and wants to see a return to that. As the son of a small-business owner, he wants to make Macon a place where small businesses can thrive.

Since the new government is designed ultimately to streamline costs and save money, Arnold said he wants to see those savings returned to the taxpayers. He also wants everything to be digitized in the new government to eliminate paperwork and make it easier for residents to find the correct documents they need online.

Jones said even though he’s running for a spot in a new government, he’s running on the same issues as last time. He said he often hears from people whom he’s dealing with through his job about crime in Macon and the perception that it’s not safe.

“People are moving out of Bibb County because the crime is too bad,” Jones said.

To attack crime, Jones said he wants judges to banish career criminals from Bibb and contiguous counties.

Jones said he also wants more transparency in government.

“There’s a trust deficit here,” he said. “(Government officials) need to listen more and respond more. They need to say, ‘This is what we’re going to do’ and then do it.”

Jones wants to hold the line on where taxes are currently at and get new blood into the new commission.

“It’s time for new leadership and new ideas,” he said,

Jones is the first candidate to announce for the District 4 seat, but former Macon City Councilman Theron Ussery will announce his candidacy for the seat Thursday at noon at the Bibb County Courthouse. His news conference will follow that of Bibb County Commissioner Bert Bivins, who will announce at 11 a.m. that he’s running for the District 5 seat.

Telegraph writer Jim Gaines contributed to this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334. To contact Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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