The race to decide who will represent District 3 in the consolidated Macon-Bibb County government pits a veteran Macon city councilwoman against a former school board member.
Elaine Lucas, 62, is a retired Bibb County educator who was first elected to the Macon City Council in 1983. With the exception of one term, Lucas has represented a portion of east Macon for close to three decades.
She touts her strong support for the Marriott City Center hotel being built amid opposition and improvements to recreation during her time on the council.
But Lucas time in office hasnt been without controversy as shes accused some of her council counterparts of being political puppets and accusing some who dont agree with her of seeking to give away the councils power.
Lucas said she has the experience needed to help bring about the efficiency promised when consolidation was proposed.
She wants to ensure all residents have a seat at the table and that their voices are represented at decision-making levels.
Lucas also vowed to continue her support for improvements in recreation, public safety and educational achievement in the county.
Terry Tripp, 61, is retired from Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., and also served a stint as a lobbyist in Atlanta. She served on the Bibb County school board from 2000 to 2006 and had an unsuccessful prior run for the Bibb County Commission.
In her first term in office, Tripp said she worked to get retirement benefits for campus police officers and supported the construction of a new school.
Tripp said shes running for office because she loves her hometown and wants to help it grow.
I will listen. Im approachable, she said. Im going to do whatever I can.
District 3 includes portions of east Macon and southeast Bibb County reaching south to the Houston County line.
Both Lucas and Tripp agree that one of the new commissions biggest challenges will be finding ways to trim the budget, achieving a mandated 20 percent savings over five years, without sacrificing essential county services.
Lucas and Tripp said they hope employee attrition and the elimination of duplicated services will create some savings.
Tripp said she has no preconceived notions of what should be cut.
What I can do personally is just stay open minded, she said.
Drawing from her experience on the school board, Tripp said its important to listen well, do your own research and find out what the true story is.
Tripp said she doesnt want people to lose their jobs, but we know there are some things that were going to have to cut.
Lucas said she doesnt think a 20 percent reduction is realistic without layoffs, which she said she doesnt support.
If elected, she said she will support commissioners examining the possibility of offering early retirement to employees and a countywide policy that targets the efficient use of gasoline and energy conservation in government buildings.
Other savings can be achieved through providing in-house training instead of sending individual employees on multiple trips. Local learning institutions also can be utilized, Lucas said.
Lucas said she will be assertive in insisting that the level of county services doesnt decline and that taxes dont go up.
What I want to do is hold the folks feet to the fire ... and make sure we actually do what was promised to people, she said.
On the issue of crime, Lucas and Tripp agree that neighborhoods cooperating with law enforcement is key.
Tripp said more jobs are needed for young people to help steer them away from crime.
Lucas said more officers need to be assigned to work in neighborhoods, more time should be devoted to patrols and there should be more of a focus on crime prevention and youth programs.
While Tripp said law enforcements greatest challenge is perception, Lucas said the challenge is in standardizing ranks and salaries.
Lucas said businesses can be enticed to move to Bibb County through better coordination and possibly a consolidation of taxpayer-funded economic development agencies.
While government tax credits and incentives for economic development should continue, Lucas said Bibb County also needs to get out the word to more people when a new business is coming to town offering jobs.
Tripp said the community must work together, along with the local government, to bring businesses to Bibb County and entice them to stay.
Weve got to listen to each other and work together, she said.
Writer Jim Gaines contributed to this report. Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.