WARNER ROBINS -- Mayoral candidate and Warner Robins native Randy Toms has racked up the support of some big community names, including the family of the late Mayor Donald Walker.
“I know I can do the job, and I know I can be good for Warner Robins, but to have people’s support who are so influential in our community ... is encouraging,” Toms said. “It’s very humbling.”
So far, Toms’ supporters include the Walkers, as well as a revered former Recreation Department director and the chairman of the Redevelopment Agency board. None of the other mayoral candidates reported such support from well-known community members, although one of them said Donald Walker himself would have made a different decision than his family did.
The Walker family has long been a part of the city’s fabric. Homer J. Walker was mayor from 1968 to 1972 and served as a councilman before that. His son, Donald Walker, served as mayor from 1994 to 2009, when he committed suicide during the last mayoral campaign season.
According to state law, leftover funds from a campaign can either be donated to charity or contributed to another candidate’s campaign.
Patricia Walker, Donald Walker’s widow, contributed the remainder of his campaign war chest ($2,480.45) to Toms’ campaign.
She said she has known Toms for years and knows him as a man connected with every part of the community.
“He is a really forthright, honest, hardworking guy who will do a really good job for us,” she said.
Her husband bolstered his place in city history, she said, by talking with residents and devising ideas to improve the city based on those chats, such as a dual energy source and recruiting Macon State College (now Middle Georgia State College) and Georgia Military College.
She said she told Toms, “There will be people who call you ‘mayor,’ but most of them will just call you ‘Randy,’ just like people called Donald ‘Donald.’ They don’t see a political person. They see a community person.”
The Walker family has also loaned property on Watson Boulevard to Toms for a headquarters.
Mayoral candidate Joe Musselwhite, who was Public Works director under Donald Walker, said he and the former mayor worked together to lay the groundwork for much of the city.
“If Donald Walker was here, he would be supporting Joe Musselwhite for mayor,” he said. “But I cannot speak for his family.”
Last campaign season, the Walker family contributed $10,000 of the war chest to mayoral candidate Chuck Chalk, who narrowly lost the race to Chuck Shaheen.
Chalk said he respects Patricia Walker’s choice to support Toms.
“She is a very smart and capable lady, as well as her daughter,” Chalk said. “I am happy that they are still involved in Warner Robins politics. If they choose to support Mr. Toms, that’s perfectly fine with me.”
Patricia Walker changed her endorsement to Toms this year, she said, because she and her husband were more familiar with Toms.
“We have a good slate of candidates,” Patricia Walker said.
Besides Patricia Walker’s support, Toms has posted other endorsements on the Facebook page this week from Claude Lewis, who was recently inducted into the city’s Hall of Fame and is known for creating T-ball, and businessman Randy Meade, chairman of the city’s RDA board.
All of the candidates listed some businessmen on their required campaign contribution statements this month, except for Eva Folse. Folse’s campaign is self-funded.
Musselwhite also received $1,000 from former Councilman Terry Horton.
To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.