Bell to run for Macon-Bibb commission seat

Nonpartisan advocate wants recreation, road work

jgaines@macon.comMarch 19, 2013 

A second political newcomer has emerged for the District 7 seat on the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated commission.

Barry Bell, 50, general manager of Oakview Golf & Country Club, said Tuesday he is seeking to represent the area which straddles Interstate 75 and Houston Road south of Rocky Creek Road.

“I just feel that I can work with people,” he said. “I think that’s what we need in Bibb County.”

Software designer Eric Arnold, 38, announced in late February that he also plans to run for the District 7 seat.

Bell said his family came to Middle Georgia in the mid-1990s, anticipating that the Macon-Warner Robins-Byron area was “ready to take off” because of interstate access and other features. He helped build Oakview and is still a “totally golf” person, he said. He’s made many friends at the golf course, and it was some of those contacts who urged him several months ago to run for the new commission despite his lack of political experience.

Those friends fall all along the political spectrum, said Bell, who declined to state a party affiliation.

“I am totally for the nonpartisan elections,” he said.

Voters approved Macon-Bibb consolidation in July 2012, with partisan elections for the new nine-member commission and countywide mayor. That election would have been in November 2013, with new officials scheduled to take over in January 2014. But this year state legislators changed the rules, setting a nonpartisan vote for July 16.

Bell said he wants to see completion of the Sardis Church-Sgoda Road connector to link the Middle Georgia Regional Airport with Interstate 75.

“I think that would relieve a lot of traffic through Macon,” particularly big-truck traffic, he said.

Bell said he’s excited about plans to build a new recreation center in south Bibb County with proceeds from the sales tax voters approved in November 2011, but he wants to see work done as well on existing recreation centers throughout the county. With his golf background, he said, he can help lower maintenance costs on park landscaping, leaving more money for operations and recreation center work.

Bell said he wants to see city and county residents unite for the common good. The current governments are gridlocked, preventing much from getting done, he said.

“There’s huge potential here, but we’ve got to work together to achieve our goal, which is to make Bibb County better,” Bell said.

District 7 is one of two new commission districts that does not have an incumbent living within its borders. It’s home to about 17,300 people, of whom 12,500 are of voting age. Residents are about 51 percent Republican and 46 percent Democratic, according to a Telegraph analysis. The population is 57 percent white and 37 percent black.

To contact writer Jim Gaines call 744-4489.

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