At one point during a Friday news conference to announce his bid for mayor of the consolidated Macon-Bibb County government, Joe Allen pulled out his cellphone and held it up in front of the cameras.
My cellphone is (478) 955-4100, said Allen, the vice chairman of the Bibb County Commission. (If elected mayor), you will have my number and I will personally call you back.
During his announcement, Allen, a retired Macon-Bibb County firefighter who was first elected a county commissioner in 1989, stressed his commitment to public service and how hes a politician who understands that he works for the people.
I will do what is necessary, the 63-year-old said. I want to work for you. ... Im a servant of the people. Thats what a lot of politicians tend to forget.
Allen joins a crowded field of mayoral candidates that includes Mayor Robert Reichert; Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart; former commission Chairman Charlie Bishop; former Mayor C. Jack Ellis; and former mayoral candidate David Cousino.
Allen noted that when he ran for his current term against longtime friend Robert Abbott, he ran a positive campaign and didnt engage in personal attacks. He said he plans to continue that strategy and instead will campaign door to door, asking for peoples votes.
Besides his political service, Allen noted he is the founder of the nonprofit Kids Yule Love and Seniors Yule Love organizations. The former group collects Christmas presents for needy children in Middle Georgia, while the latter gathers items to help senior citizens in the area.
Allen said he tries to live his life by Christian values, and at one point indicated the framed copy of the Ten Commandments that hangs above his County Commission seat.
I live by the Ten Commandments, he said. When I sit as your mayor, theyll be over my head (in his office). Im a Christian and proud of it.
Allen, who also previously served on the Macon Water Authority board, said his main priority as mayor would be to guide the new government through its transition once the city and county are consolidated. He said he wants to put together a team of people to help him run the city, and he wants to bring a team-like atmosphere to the new county commission.
Allen, who currently serves as chairman of the countys Engineering, Lake Tobesofkee and Inspections & Fees committees, said he makes it a point to get input from those commissioners who arent on the specific committee so that when its time to take action, the board as a whole is on the same page.
Were going to have to work as a team, he said. (Residents) will know they have a mayor who is involved in this community.
Other priorities for Allen include extending the runways at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport to handle commercial freight air traffic, and improvements to the interstate highways. He also wants to help facilitate more economic development, which will lead to more jobs for Macon residents.
Allen noted he has been instrumental in getting recognition for local veterans, such as memorial markers, and he was behind the effort to get the Bibb County Courthouse named in honor of the late Judge Taylor Phillips, the man who gave him the framed Ten Commandments.
He pointed to improvements to Lake Tobesofkee, increased pay for Bibb County employees and the new animal welfare facility as a few of the accomplishments he has helped with while serving as a commissioner.
If people have faith in you, theyll work with you, he said.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.