For a politician, sometimes the moment in the limelight can be fleeting.
Other elected officials are more fortunate and able to make a mark by serving a few terms in office. But Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Ed DeFore’s tenure as a politician is a rarity, stretching five decades of serving the public.
DeFore will bow out as commissioner on Dec. 31 after 40-plus years as a Macon councilman, Bibb school board member and a commissioner with the consolidated government. To get a gauge of how active DeFore was, one can just check The Telegraph archives. He fought to have numerous dirt streets paved, spearheaded recreation projects and youth sports leagues and was outspoken against a garbage tax. He wasn’t afraid of controversy, which he showed by putting up billboards in 1981 warning robbers that they could be shot.
DeFore served simultaneously on the City Council and Bibb school board from 1972-1984. During that time, his ambitions even led him to contemplate running for Bibb County Commission and mayor. In a 1981 Macon News article, some politicians’ opinions varied on how much influence he held, but the consensus was that he was sincere about his stance on issues.
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“DeFore is a likeable, bear-sized and, despite some unorthodox ideas about law and order issues, a very gentle man,” the article said. “People he meets are ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ or ‘buddy.’ He believes he probably has an enemy in Macon but does not know who he is. And he rarely talks issues without somewhere mentioning ‘the people.’ ”
Now 84, DeFore is not as active as he was for decades, but when he pipes up during meetings it’s often speaking up for young people and the underserved. His sense of humor is also still on display. Although being the longest and oldest serving member of the commission, he will crack an occasional joke about other colleagues’ age.
When DeFore is no longer a commissioner, he’ll likely still receive calls from residents seeking help or needing questions answered. He’s said he’ll continue providing answers or pointing people in the right direction.
The ending of his term won’t mean the end of DeFore’s involvement in the community.