Ed DeFore and Joe Allen say they’re not surprised that they’re headed to a runoff to see who will be the next District 6 commissioner in Macon-Bibb County.
DeFore and Allen will be on the July 26 ballot after Allen came up just shy of winning the seat outright in Tuesday’s contest. The two said Wednesday they each face a formidable foe with a lengthy history of community and political involvement dating back decades.
Allen earned 49 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s election while DeFore, the incumbent commissioner, got 41 percent of the vote. Don Druitt, former Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency director, finished with the remaining 10 percent of the votes.
Allen said he was hopeful the race wouldn’t lead to a runoff, which is a different nature than a regular election, he said. This race, Allen said, is similar to when he faced a business owner in his bid for the Bibb County Commission in the late 1980s.
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“Tony Bullington was a well-known man in this town. I won, but it took a lot out of me to run that race,” Allen said. “This will be one of those same types of situations. Every bit of energy I had, I’m going to have to focus on this race. I’m up to the task. I wanted it to just be myself winning outright, but I felt it would come down to two (candidates).”
Allen served on the Bibb commission from 1989 until 2000 and from 2005 through 2013.
“I worked as hard with this race as with the first race I’ve ever ran,” he said.
DeFore said he “felt like it would be hard for there to be one person to win (Tuesday).”
“We’re in a runoff, (and Allen’s) a pretty good fella,” he said. “I care about the people, care about our youth and our kids. I believe the people in this particular election, they’ll go back and vote.”
Allen says he’d like to schedule a series of debates with DeFore throughout the district. While people know Allen and DeFore, they might know where the candidates stand on some issues, Allen said.
But DeFore said the familiarity voters have with both candidates lessens the need for debates.
“I don’t know if we need it or not, because people in Macon know Joe Allen and have known him for 25, 30 years,” DeFore said. “They know his thoughts, they know mine. People know both of us. If people just come out and say they want (a debate), I’d be willing to do it.”
One difference between the two is whether DeFore was going to try to seek another term this time around. Along with his time on the Bibb County school board from 1972-1984, DeFore also has served on either the Macon City Council or Macon-Bibb County Commission since the early 1970s.
Allen, who considers DeFore an early political mentor to him, also said Wednesday that he was under the impression when speaking with DeFore last year that DeFore was not going to run again in 2016.
DeFore also was one of the first board members of Allen’s charity Kids Yule Love that’s been a mainstay in Middle Georgia since 1986.
DeFore, however, said he has not wavered on whether he would run again. He said he’s still in excellent health.
“Never, never have I said I may or may not run again,” DeFore said. “I’ve always said I’ll stay (in office) until the people send me home.”
Through city-county consolidation, a section of west and south unincorporated Bibb County, including Lizella, became District 6. Allen said he has experience serving much of that area when it was unincorporated Bibb County. He also said he worked closely with residents who lived in the former city limits when he served as vice-chairman of Bibb County.
“This job is not part-time for me,” Allen said. “It’s full time, and I plan to be there for residents.”