Bibb County commissioners are set to discuss Tuesday whether they will weigh in on the nonpartisan elections debate.
Commissioners will discuss approving a resolution calling for a nonpartisan special election on July 16, with qualifying running from April 22-26.
State Sen. Cecil Staton and state Rep. Allen Peake, both Macon Republicans, are pushing Senate Bill 25, in the state Legislature that makes elections for the new government nonpartisan.
But the Bibb County Democratic Party is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to keep local elections partisan and to hold the general election for the new government in November when black voter turnout is higher, they said. Party officials have said that making elections nonpartisan goes against the will of the people, who approved a consolidation bill last July that included partisan elections. Officials also claim that the move toward nonpartisan elections is designed to suppress black votes in the county.
Two weeks ago, the Macon City Council passed a resolution by an 11-2 vote that urged the Justice Department not to allow nonpartisan elections in Bibb County.
Bibb County Commissioners Bert Bivins and Lonzy Edwards both said Monday that they favor keeping local elections partisan.
As long as the candidates are Democrat and Republican, people should know, Bivins said. People can identify who is who (in their parties). ... Id just as soon leave (elections) alone.
Edwards called the move toward nonpartisan elections political hanky-panky and said such a change in the consolidation legislation ought to have gone back to voters in a referendum.
People ought to know who (elected officials) are, especially when the motives behind the bill appear to be less than honorable, he said. No one asked (the community). They just did it.