Warner Robins mayoral candidates talk about veterans support at forum

jmink@macon.comOctober 15, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Veterans support, traffic and recreation were some of the issues mayoral and City Council candidates discussed Tuesday during a forum at the Wellston Center.

Each of the six mayoral candidates lined the stage, waiting for their questions. They talked about the agenda for their first 100 days in office, and most of them spoke of becoming familiar with the role of mayor, meeting with other city officials and city employees and mapping out goals for the city.

Another question involved veterans and how each candidate would help them.

Former councilman Mike Brashear said veterans want respect, and he applauded the city’s efforts to provide a training facility for those veterans. This year, the city donated land to the state for such a center.

“They just want respect,” Brashear said.

Robins Air Force Base employee Chuck Chalk said he would honor veterans through parades and other ceremonies and make Warner Robins a good place for veterans to retire.

“I will find tangible ways to honor our veterans,” he said.

Retired insurance agent Eva Folse said she understands the problems military families face and would work to make sure Warner Robins offers good rental properties for those families.

“We can never thank our veterans enough,” she said.

Councilman Daron Lee also spoke of the need for a job training facility for veterans, and he pledged to help allocate more funds for veteran needs, such as medical care.

“They need shelter. They need jobs,” he said. “They need income.”

Former Public Works Director Joe Musselwhite said he has spoken with veterans and believes they want, more than anything, a memorial on Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parkway.

“The veterans are a very good group of people,” he said.

Similarly, retired firefighter Randy Toms said veterans want to be recognized for the service they provided, and he would come up with new ways to honor them, he said.

“We’ll invent ways to honor them,” he said.

The forum, which was hosted by the Middle Georgia Democratic Women and the American Association of University Women, posed questions to council candidates as well. Many candidates attended the forum, but some did not show. The forum mediator said some candidates claimed they did not receive their mailed invitations.

A question for Post 1 council candidates involved alleviating traffic in congested areas. Incumbent Mike Daley discussed the need to create more lanes in those sections of town, and the problems that officials have encountered when discussing such a solution. Charlie Scott Jr. said he would bring in engineers to help develop a fix, and Mayor Chuck Shaheen, who is running for the council post, also mentioned bringing in engineers and potential plans for expanded lanes, as well as improving traffic lighting.

Post 4 candidates discussed their plans for recreation.

Ben Campbell said he would take the current parks and recreation plan and find a way to implement it. Tim Thomas said he would work to find the right kind of land for recreation use, including parks in the Feagin Mill area. Bob Wilbanks said he would upgrade parks and pools, as well as bring more recreation to the west side of town.

When asked about his greatest strengths as potential councilman, Post 3 candidate Keith Lauritsen highlighted his ability to work with others. His opponent, incumbent Paul Shealy, talked about his experience in city government. And while his opponents did not attend, Post 5 candidate Clifford Holmes Jr. gave a statement, discussing his experience serving the community over the years.

“I am a servant. I’ve been a servant,” he said. “And I’ll continue to be a servant.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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