Jones to seek new commission seat

Macon councilman wants focus on employees, substandard housing

jgaines@macon.comFebruary 26, 2013 

Macon City Councilman Charles Jones is the latest incumbent to announce a run for a seat on the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated commission.

Jones, who has been the Ward 4, Post 2 councilman since 1999, is seeking the District 8 seat in what he calls a crucial moment.

“We’re in a good situation,” he said. “I’m telling you, we have the opportunity of a lifetime to come together and make this work.”

Jones, 59, said the commission, which will take office in January 2014, has a chance to end “turf fighting” between current officials. He said he brings a commitment to public service rather than a personal agenda.

“I’m not a show horse. I’m a work horse,” said Jones, pastor of Greater Rising Star Full Gospel Tabernacle.

Years of experience on the City Council’s Community Resources & Development, Employee Development & Compensation and Public Safety committees will let him begin work without a learning curve, he said.

Top issues for Jones are making sure none of the roughly 2,000 city and county employees lose their jobs in the merger -- the consolidation charter states that as a goal, but doesn’t guarantee it -- and especially that police and other emergency service workers are treated well.

“If they’re not happy, the community’s not happy,” he said. Jones said when city police are folded into the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, they should soon have parity in pay and benefits.

Greater efforts must be made to deal with run-down and abandoned houses in Macon, he said, adding that the city’s current rate of tearing down about 100 per year will never catch up to the problem.

When the tax allocation district meant to encourage private investment along Second Street was expanded up Little Richard Penniman Boulevard near Mercer University, Jones successfully recommended extending it still further to the edge of Pio Nono Avenue. He hopes development along the Penniman corridor will spur new investment in the declining neighborhoods on either side, he said.

About 17,300 people live in the new District 8, which straddles both Eisenhower Parkway and Interstate 75. It covers much of the downtown business district and Mercer University, and runs south to Rocky Creek Road.

About 12,800 of those residents are of voting age; 14 percent are Republican, and 83 percent Democratic. The population is 72 percent black and 25 percent white.

Jones shares the new district with incumbent Councilmen Tom Ellington and Virgil Watkins, neither of whom immediately returned calls Tuesday.

Watkins said two weeks ago that he’s considering a bid for the new commission but hasn’t yet announced definite plans.

Ellington opposed the consolidation bill, but now -- as chairman of the council’s Appropriations Committee -- serves on the consolidation task force and has said former opponents need to accept consolidation and work to make it succeed. He hasn’t announced whether he will run for a new office.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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