Bishop announces bid for Macon-Bibb mayor

mstucka@macon.comMarch 25, 2013 

Charlie Bishop made Bibb County history by becoming the first Republican elected countywide -- to County Commission chairman -- in 2004.

Now he’s hoping to make history again by besting a crowded field of veteran politicians to become mayor of a newly consolidated Macon-Bibb County government.

Bishop announced his bid Monday afternoon at Macon City Hall, not far from where he began his service to local government in a Macon Police Department uniform.

“I’ve served both the city and the county as a public servant,” said Bishop, who lives in northwestern Bibb County near Lake Tobesofkee.

Bishop climbed the ranks from police patrolman to deputy police chief, and served as a district county commissioner. He was defeated in a re-election bid for commission chairman by the current chairman, Sam Hart, who is among his competitors for the new mayor’s seat. Macon Mayor Robert Reichert and former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis also have begun their mayoral campaigns. And perennial candidate David Cousino announced last July his intention to seek the office of countywide mayor after two unsuccessful runs for city mayor.

Bishop said his integrity and financial acumen would help the consolidated government.

“I think I did a good job for the taxpayers,” he said.

As County Commission chairman, Bishop said, he took a county with disastrous forecast budget problems -- driven by the loss of about 2,500 jobs with Brown & Williamson Tobacco’s departure from the Macon market -- and left the county budget in better shape four years later. Part of his success, he said, came from working with other organizations, including Macon Water Authority and the Macon Economic Development Commission, to bring more jobs to the county.

Bishop said Monday he would like to strengthen such partnerships, increasing the tax base without increasing taxes.

Bishop said during his four years chairman he helped bring in $618 million of investments by new industry. Georgia Department of Revenue records show that during Bishop’s time, industrial properties lost about $317 million in taxable value, while commercial properties surged about $822 million. The county’s tax digest increased more than $2 billion during that time.

But the last tax digest of Jan. 1, 2009, as Bishop left office, also took into account Bibb County’s first full revaluation in years, which gave significantly higher book values to much of Bibb County’s properties.

Bishop said his experience included straightening out the county’s finances. The county’s reserves increased from $19.8 million in the full fiscal year before he took office to $26.4 million in the full fiscal year after he left, according to the county’s financial report.

Just like his previous race, Bishop’s run for the new mayor’s seat is countywide, and Bishop again plans to face Hart -- who won 60 percent of the vote last time.

But other candidates will split the votes, and current plans call for a nonpartisan election.

Bishop said Monday the next race will be different and says he hopes people will vote for the best candidate.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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