As excited as I get about elections, Im ready for this one to be over. The suspense, quite frankly, is killing me.
Under normal circumstances Im pretty good at calling elections. Ive memorized what precincts are in what districts. As the returns roll in, I could pretty much tell who would win and lose. But all that institutional expertise is out the window now, courtesy of the General Assembly and Bibb County voters. I wouldnt have it any other way.
I really believed consolidation of our city and county governments -- no matter how practical -- would never happen in my lifetime. The opposition against it was fierce. So what changed? What made this final attempt after six failed referendums succeed? In the words of the irrepressible Fannie Lou Hamer, it seems Macon and Bibb County residents were sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Primarily, we had it up to our chinny-chin-chins with the shenanigans of City Council, and if it took restructuring the governments to rid ourselves of some of the personalities, so be it. Whether those personalities will see their end remains an open question that could be answered Tuesday night, I hope.
It could be a very long evening. Its my wish that all the kinks have been worked about who votes where and for whom, but early voting was quite tedious.
Let me warn you, Tuesdays results, unless something unexpected happens, will not mean the end of voting for the year. I expect at least one runoff and there is the possibility of a few others. That means we will have to do our civic duty again on Oct. 15.
Aside from that possibility, I fully expect, depending on the outcome in Districts 3 and 9, legal challenges to the results. That door was opened when at least 90 people cast ballots during the early voting period for candidates that cannot represent them.
When and if the new government takes office Jan. 14, dont expect the sky to open letting us know that God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. If you think consolidation solves our myriad problems, Ive got some land for sale in the kingdom of Camelot.
No matter who gets elected mayor their name will not be Arthur Pendragon, better known as King Arthur. Commission district winners will not be led by a round table full of noble knights and Merlin is certainly not hanging around this part of the universe waiting for Excalibur to reappear.
What we are asking the new government to do is very difficult and hard. Some of it will be quite dirty in a political sense. Even if some of the personalities I dont have to name win, after they do the Happy Dance and let forth all their I told you sos, they will be on a short leash. The next term is three years long and there is a lot to do and most of it is going to be unpleasant.
The most we can expect is a quieter, gentler government, but if youre on a cut taxes binge, get over it. History teaches that a consolidated government initially costs more, not less, to operate. Its easy to say were going to cut the budget and lower taxes, but implementation means someones ox is bound to get gored. Voters dont like that.
My advice, no matter who wins Tuesday or thereafter, is dont panic and start casting gloom and doom in every corner. Its not the time for a woe-is-me moment. It will not mark the end of possibilities or the potential that lay before us. It could, however, slow us down.
My choices for mayor and commission may not win, but I will give the new government a chance no matter who are the victors. Once the new government is seated, Im wiping the slate clean. Im going to follow the admonition of the Apostle Paul when he wrote the church in Philippi from prison. He said he was forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via email at email@example.com. Tweet @crichard1020.