Diverse group seeking Warner Robins city council Post 5 seat

jmink@macon.comOctober 2, 2013 

  • Warner Robins City Council, Post 5 candidates

    Clifford Holmes Jr.
    Age: 70
    Occupation: Former vocational educator, state education consultant and principal; retired as assistant to Houston County school superintendent.
    Political experience: City councilman from 2006 to 2010; interim mayor in 2008.
    Education: Bachelor’s degree in industrial arts and driver education from Florida A&M University; master’s degree in industrial arts education and specialist in educational administration from the University of Georgia; vocational administration certificate from Georgia Southern University.

    Liberty Kovach
    Age: 25
    Occupation: Baker at the farmer’s market
    Political experience: None
    Education: Attended Macon State College

    Richard “Chef” Weldon
    Age: 57
    Occupation: Equipment custodian for Robins Air Force Base
    Political experience: Six years on the Downtown Development Authority board
    Education: More than two years of vocational school in Houston County and chef certification from the American Culinary Federation.

WARNER ROBINS -- The candidates for City Council Post 5 represent a wide range of views and characteristics.

One is a young newcomer. One has been working on city development for years, and one is looking to return to the political arena.

But Clifford Holmes Jr., Liberty Kovach and Richard “Chef” Weldon all say they’re good listeners who want to better the community and serve the people. They are seeking the Post 5 seat vacated by Daron Lee, who is running for mayor in the Nov. 5 election.

‘A servant my entire life’

Holmes, 70, was a city councilman from 2006 until 2010, when he ran for mayor and was defeated by current Mayor Chuck Shaheen. But he said he fields requests every day from people who still think he’s a councilman.

“If I can help, I go out there and try to help them,” he said. “I hope I go to the grave with that reputation. I’m a servant, and I’ve been a servant my entire life.”

That’s one reason why Holmes is seeking the position this year. He said residents have been calling, asking him to run for mayor, but Holmes thinks he could do the most good as a Post 5 councilman. And he wants to finish the work that’s been started.

That work includes cleaning up blighted areas. He also wants to continue a plan to bring in more businesses and attract more people to Warner Robins from Interstate 75. He wants to push for a planned park at Watson Boulevard and Davis Drive and, within the council, he wants to “demonstrate what a team player does.”

As for how to combat a potential Base Realignment and Closure Commission, Holmes wants to strengthen the relationship between Robins Air Force Base and the city.

“I have the experience. I know how to get things done,” he said. “And I have a beautiful working relationship with the employees of the city of Warner Robins.”

‘Help make some changes’

Kovach says she wants to diversify city politics. The 25-year-old said she wants to convince others her age to get involved in their community and in local politics.

Kovach decided to seek elected office to bring a younger perspective to the council. She said she wants to draw attention to Post 5 and the downtown area, making it a place where businesses thrive and where people want to be.

“It seems it’s forgotten about. It seems it has fallen to waste,” she said of downtown. “Businesses that open up down here don’t last very long. I want to help make some changes so people want to come to this side of town.”

She also wants to help make Warner Robins a cleaner and greener town, with a recycling program, solar street lights and a transit system, particularly buses that run on Watson Boulevard and Russell Parkway.

As for a potential BRAC, Kovach wants to make sure Warner Robins could survive a base closure by making the city more independent of the base. She would strive to help small businesses stay afloat and make Warner Robins “more of a city than a suburb of the base,” she said.

But, above all, she pledges to listen to the needs of her district, she said.

“Everyone has their own agenda and things they want to get done,” she said, “but the most important thing is what your district wants.”

‘No personal agendas’

Richard “Chef” Weldon, a board member of the Downtown Development Authority, says he was listening to people in his district when they urged him to run for a council seat.

“I’m all about listening to people,” said Weldon, 57. “No personal agendas.”

His priorities include cleaner air quality, cleaning up blighted areas and a revitalized Ga. 247 to “reflect the city that we are,” he said.

Improving that section of town is one step the city already should have taken to help save the base from a potential BRAC, he said.

Those steps also include beautifying the city, becoming more environmentally friendly and creating more entrances and exits to the base from Warner Robins, he said.

Additionally, Weldon said he would not necessarily push for public transportation. The funds are not there for such a project, he said, and it might hurt automobile dealerships, which provide important employment.

“Public transportation, to me, is very, very much needed,” he said. “But we would have more nays than yeas.”

His perspectives come from years of city service, he said.

“I just feel like I can really serve and be a vessel to the city of Warner Robins.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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