Former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis, now in a runoff against incumbent Mayor Robert Reichert for the new office of Macon-Bibb County mayor, announced a plan Thursday to combat poverty.
Decrying Macons high poverty and unemployment rates, Ellis spoke at the vacant Eugenia Hamilton School on Pio Nono Avenue.
Ellis unveiled a plan to gradually reduce poverty in Macon-Bibb County, relying heavily on state and federal grants for new programs.
Thats what we did before, said Ellis, who was Macons mayor from 1999 to 2007. There is money out there.
His plan calls for:
Offering high-quality public education for all children.
Creating a lifelong education and skills development program.
Taking action to reduce teen pregnancy and holding fathers accountable for supporting their children.
Dispersing concentrations of poverty by getting more Section 8 housing vouchers and building mixed-income developments.
Creating a revolving loan fund for small-business startups in poor areas.
Expanding bus service to major employers and beginning Sunday bus rides.
Creating a re-entry program for released inmates, providing job training, housing and aggressive job-placement in local business and government.
Building computer centers throughout the county to help those without high-tech access close the technology gap.
Decriminalizing some victimless offenses so police records wont keep people from getting jobs.
Ellis said he knows the government wont directly control education, but it can partner with Bibb County schools and create after-school programs.
He would create a task force including schools, churches and various groups that deal with poverty to set priorities in a strategic plan, he said.
Ellis said he wants participation from the business community, churches and many groups that already are doing good work separately.
Recruitment of terrorists in other parts of the world is linked to the existence of a large, disgruntled population of unemployed and disenfranchised youths, he said.
What do you think you get at home if you have some of those same conditions? Ellis said. You get more crime. You get more hopelessness.
In the end, the community spends more money on social services and jails than it would take to provide jobs and education, he said.
Ellis came in second in the seven-way Sept. 17 race for the mayors office in the new consolidated government. Reichert led with 17,821 votes to Ellis 10,852, but since Reichert fell a few hundred votes short of winning an outright majority, he and Ellis will meet again in an Oct. 15 runoff.
Reicherts campaign declined to respond to Ellis announcement Thursday.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.