Defeated Macon-Bibb runoff candidates leaving future options open

pramati@macon.comOctober 16, 2013 

For three of the Macon-Bibb County commission candidates who came up short in Tuesday’s runoff, there aren’t many regrets.

While the District 2 race between Larry Schlesinger and Henry Ficklin is set for a recount -- Schlesinger was ahead by just 27 votes -- candidates Adah Roberts, Beverly Olson and Charles Jones said there isn’t much they would have done differently with the benefit of hindsight.

Roberts, a CPA and former Macon interim finance director, lost by more than 1,000 votes in District 6 to veteran Macon City Councilman Ed DeFore, who has served in his post 42 years.

“I definitely knew I was a long shot,” Roberts said. “I was pleased I gained an extra 800 votes (in the runoff). It means our hard work paid off. ... I’m happy today. I’ve got my life back. I’m not feeling sorry for myself.”

Olson noted that she also received an 800-vote bump from the Sept. 17 special election, though she still fell short by 1,000 votes to District 4 winner Mallory Jones III.

“I think we ran a good campaign,” she said.

In fact, all of the runoff candidates secured more votes thanks to an extra 5,000 ballots that were cast in Tuesday’s races. More than half of the county’s 81,348 voters showed up at the polls. The 41,182 ballots cast represented 50.6 percent of Bibb County voters, a significant increase over the 36,065 who voted in September.

Charles Jones, Roberts and Olson left the door open for a future run for office, especially since the first term of the new government is a shortened three years instead of the traditional four. This will allow future Bibb County election cycles to coincide with the presidential election.

“Certainly, I will (run again),” Charles Jones said after Tuesday’s results were announced. “I’m proud of the way we ran the race.”

The three also said they wanted to help serve Macon and make sure the new government gets off on the right foot.

Roberts said she thinks some people might have associated her with former Mayor C. Jack Ellis, for whom she worked as finance director. With such a large turnout for eventual mayoral winner Robert Reichert, that might have led some people to vote against her, she said. In fact, Roberts said, she enjoys a good relationship with both Reichert and Ellis and didn’t publicly support either candidate during the race.

“We worked hard,” she said. “We did everything we could.”

Olson praised Mallory Jones’ strong campaign and said she was hesitant to solicit campaign contributions.

“I’m not a politician,” she said. “I didn’t want to raise money for myself. I’d much rather put that money into charity work, but I think we ran a good campaign.”

Charles Jones lost by 186 votes to fellow City Councilman Virgil Watkins Jr., but the margin wasn’t enough to fall within the 1 percent necessary to ask for a recount.

Olson and Charles Jones will serve out the remaining two months on the Macon City Council before the new government takes over in January.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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