Former mayor and recent mayoral candidate C. Jack Ellis announced Wednesday he wants Bibb County Board of Elections Supervisor Elaine Carr to resign, an idea Carr quickly rejected.
Ellis said that in a television interview on the night of the runoff election between Ellis and Mayor Robert Reichert that Carr said she was “concerned” about the outcome of the mayoral race. Ellis took that as evidence of bias.
“That should be unacceptable to all of us,” he said. “It’s unacceptable to me.”
Carr disputed that Wednesday evening. She said she was saying the election’s high turnout -- more than 40 percent of registered voters -- showed that residents were concerned about who held the offices of mayor and state senator, not that she was personally concerned with the outcome.
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“I’m not going to resign,” Carr said.
Ellis, who narrowly lost the Aug. 16 runoff to Reichert, said he wants to convert his recent support into a permanent political movement called “We Are Macon.”
“This is not a divisive thing,” he said. “Hopefully, people will see it as a unifying thing.”
Speaking outside Terminal Station to about 20 supporters and campaign staff, Ellis said his group will raise money, weigh in on local issues and support candidates in upcoming elections -- particularly targeting for defeat two incumbents who backed Reichert in his runoff win.
“We will recruit candidates, we will train candidates, we will mentor candidates,” Ellis said. The group will run a “massive” voter registration and education effort, and back candidates in Macon, Bibb County, state House and state Senate races, he said.
Ellis said he plans to oppose those whom he doesn’t think serve the best interests of their constituents.
“We look at the results: ‘What have you done for me lately?’’’ he said.
He named District 138 state Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon, and District 137 state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, as the first names on his list.
“We are already grooming some people to run against (Randall),” Ellis said.
Peake responded Wednesday afternoon, but Randall did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
“I personally think Nikki Randall showed a lot of courage and real leadership in choosing to support the candidate she thought was best for Macon and Middle Georgia,” Peake said. “I’m disappointed that Ellis would try and create some retribution for someone who thought they were doing what was in the best interest for their community.”
Peake said he serves at the pleasure of his constituents and could be defeated if he displeases them.
“But I don’t think it’ll happen because Jack Ellis told them not to vote for me,” he said.
Ellis said his campaign staff is working on other issues to take to the Board of Elections. There were two ballots available at most precincts Aug. 16: a white nonpartisan ballot that only listed the nonpartisan District 26 State Senate race between David Lucas and Miriam Paris, and a brown ballot which bore the Senate race and the Democratic runoff for mayor. Ellis also said his campaign got several complaints from voters who cast the white ballot, then wanted to vote for mayor and were told they couldn’t.
There were “400-some” voters in city-only precincts who cast white ballots, and many of them probably wanted to vote in the mayor’s race -- though not enough to change the outcome, he said.
“We are not using any excuse for our defeat. We want to make that clear,” Ellis said.
Reichert beat Ellis by just 537 votes out of nearly 20,000 cast.
Ellis said poll workers should have made it clearer to voters that only the brown ballot would let them vote in both races.
Carr said there were only 38 white ballots cast in all-city precincts, and 362 in precincts split between the city and county. There’s no way to tell how many of those voters were eligible to vote in the mayor’s race. Others may have been diehard Republicans who refused to vote in a Democratic primary, she said.
Carr said there were warning signs posted in precincts, inside the voting machines, and alerts on the voting screen itself telling voters to ask for help before casting their ballots if they hadn’t done everything they wanted.
“We’ve been using this equipment ever since 2002. This is not new voting equipment,” she said.
Ellis said one of his group’s first efforts will be taking a petition on the special purpose local option sales tax, expected to be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“We Are Macon” will throw its support behind the list of projects on two conditions, he said: inclusion of funding for the Tubman African American Museum and a guarantee that substantial contracts for SPLOST project work will go to minority-owned businesses.
Currently, the Tubman is slated to get $2.5 million of the expected $190 million in SPLOST proceeds, which Tubman Executive Director Andy Ambrose has said is enough to finish the building.
Ellis said that he personally plans to be “intimately involved” in President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign “on a nationwide basis.”
And he may seek elective office again himself.
“I don’t rule out running for mayor four years from now,” Ellis said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.