Watkins, Jones battle for District 8 post not done

jmink@macon.comSeptember 17, 2013 

Virgil Watkins Jr. and Charles Jones will face each other in an Oct. 15 runoff for the District 8 seat on the new Macon-Bibb commission.

Watkins, 29, had 41 percent of Tuesday’s tally, with 1,148 votes. Jones, 59, had 38 percent, with 1,075 votes. Regina Davis picked up 597 votes, according to final but unofficial results.

Both Jones and Watkins are incumbents. Watkins has served on Macon City Council since 2007, and Jones has served for the past 13 years.

Davis, a relative newcomer, said she is not sure whether she will run for elected office again, “but I definitely want to do whatever I can for the community,” she said. “Of course, I’m happy with what our campaign did and how we got out there and worked.”

Watkins spent election day in his neighborhoods, chatting with voters and strolling the streets -- the same communities he has said he wants to patch up as commissioner.

Going forward, Watkins says his top priority is rebuilding Macon’s neighborhoods.

“It’s making sure our communities are educated, safe, clean and vibrant,” he said.

Jones said his top priorities will be to “continue to do what I’ve been doing.”

He wants to focus on the economy, bringing more jobs and revenue to the area.

“We have to create an environment conducive to bringing in more jobs,” he said.

They both anticipate challenges for the new government.

Watkins said commissioners will be dealing with budget issues, and while the commission adjusts to a new government, it’s essential that they don’t forget their top priorities.

“We need to make sure there’s no lack of services while we are transitioning,” he said.

Jones summed up challenges in one word: teamwork.

“It’s coming together and getting a united vision,” he said. “It’s all of us together.”

Going forward, Watkins said he is excited about the prospect to re-engage with the community. Jones said the race is not over, “and I will put forth my best effort to show who I am, what I’ve done and what I can do in the future.”

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