Monroe Commission District 3 a rematch

lfabian@macon.comApril 29, 2014 

  • Monroe County Commission District 3

    John H. Ambrose Sr.
    Age: 65
    Occupation: Retired railroad worker
    Political Experience: Unsuccessfully ran for Monroe County Commission in 2010

    Patsy J. Miller (I)
    Age: 72
    Occupation: Former contracting worker at Robins Air Force Base
    Political Experience: Monroe County Tax Commissioner, 13 years; Monroe County Commission, four years

Four years ago, defeated primary candidate John H. Ambrose Sr. threw his support behind Patsy J. Miller in the runoff for Monroe County Commission District 3.

This year, he’s challenging her again for the Republican nomination.

“I just get tired of the way they waste our money,” said Ambrose, a retired railroad worker who has been an outspoken critic of the commission and unfulfilled political promises. “The only thing I’m promising, if I spend their money it will be spent wisely.”

District 3 is on the south end of Monroe County, the border that is currently in dispute with Bibb County.

Ambrose doesn’t want any more tax dollars spent to alter the border in what he sees is an attempt to capitalize on the Bass Pro Shops development.

Miller wants resolution.

“I’m not anxious to spend any more money, but I wish we could get it worked out,” said Miller, who has lived her entire life on the same patch of Monroe County land. “I would like to see it put to rest because if we don’t, it will come up again. Make a decision, because there’s nothing official that says where the county line is.”

Ambrose moved to Monroe County in 1984 with Southern Railway, which later became Norfolk-Southern after a merger.

The U.S. Navy veteran had lived all over the country when his father was in the U.S. Army. He’s made a home in Monroe County for his wife of 45 years and their two grown children.

“I don’t have any political experience, but I don’t think you need any,” he said.

Miller, who was married for 47 years before her husband died of cancer in 2009, was a contracting officer at Robins Air Force Base before successfully running for Monroe County tax commissioner.

She served 13 years before retiring the same year her husband died.

The next year, she beat former Commissioner Mike Bilderback in the runoff to begin her first term on the commission.

Miller relishes the role of public servant.

“I’ve always been in a position to help people fix things,” she said. “I enjoy working with the public.”

In her first four years in office, she is most proud of the plans for a new fire station going up on Dames Ferry Road and running lines for water service for people on wells near Juliette, where possible uranium contamination has been an issue.

Miller hopes the county will soon begin negotiations with the city of Forysth to use the old water treatment system at the county-owned old Dan River Plant Camellia for additional water from the Ocmulgee River.

“Hopefully in the next four years when I’m in office, we can get it going,” she said.

Water is a big issue for Ambrose, too. He’s impatient with the progress so far, wants to create a water authority and focus on long-range planning for the county.

“Our county should be growing very nicely and it hasn’t,” he said.

Ambrose thinks that if part-time county workers are not eligible for benefits, neither should commissioners, who can currently opt into benefit programs with their $7,200 base salary.

He’s frustrated that roads have been torn up for the new water mains, but can’t be repaved until money is found to build the feeder lines so the system can be tested.

He decries the commission for losing millions of dollars on the old Tift College property, and also is troubled that 1.7 miles of Rumble Road are not paved.

“That must be the only dirt road that runs off of I-75,” he said.

Miller balks at spending what she says is an estimated $700,000 to pave it.

“To me, right now, I have other urgent things,” she said. “The road is well-maintained. I go through there periodically to check.”

Ambrose also takes issue with Miller suggesting her boyfriend, Ron Shipman, for a position on the recreation board.

She does not see it as a conflict of interest as it is a unpaid position, she said.

Ambrose also criticized her running as a Democrat for tax commissioner and switching to the Republican ticket when she ran for commissioner.

“I switched because I was a conservative,” she said.

Miller said it would have been nearly impossible to be elected tax commissioner on the Republican ticket.

No Democrats are seeking the District 3 seat on the Monroe County Commission, so the winner of the primary will be unopposed in November.

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