Political activist Al Tillman beat Macon City Council President James Timley to represent District 9 on the new Macon-Bibb County commission.
“I want to thank the voters,” Tillman said. According to unofficial results Tuesday night, Tillman had 1,947 votes to Timley’s 1,300. Tillman, 45, is a booking agent and founder of the nonprofit Unity-N-Community. He invited all voters to join him in moving forward.
“We have some high hopes to live up to,” he said. He made the comments after a karaoke rendition of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” with his supporters at his Bloomfield Road campaign headquarters.
Timley, 69, a retired educator and Macon councilman since 1999, could not be reached immediately after the vote count.
Tillman proposed programs to introduce unemployed young people to government contractors, clean up blighted neighborhoods, reform the police and to loosen some rules on the smallest businesses, such as car washes and barber shops.
Timley advocated setting the same property tax rate countywide, both inside and outside today’s Macon city limits.
The new government will have the power to set different rates, but it’s not clear if it will. If more services are offered within the old city limits, for example, some officials may argue that those residents should pay more.
As for attracting investment, Timley criticized Macon-Bibb for having multiple development agencies instead of one unified body of people courting new business.
Both candidates mentioned drug-related crime as a problem in their district.
Tillman reported spending nearly $12,500 on the election as of early September, according to the latest state-mandated disclosures. Some of his donations came from other politicians, including $750 from the campaign account of state Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon, as well as $1,500 from companies co-owned by state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.
Timley reported spending nearly $6,200 on the election in the same period. Most of it was self-financed.
Tillman survived a residency challenge from Macon City Councilman Henry Gibson. Gibson, who did not run for a post in the consolidated government, complained to the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections and Bibb County Superior Court that Tillman’s homestead property tax exemption was on a house in a different district.
But they both rejected Gibson’s complaint. They found Tillman rented an apartment in District 9, paid bills there and changed his voter registration in time to qualify as a resident.
Candidates had to be a resident of their district as of July 24, the qualification deadline, in order to run. The county’s delegation to the state Legislature cut the residency requirement from one year down to one day in a vote earlier this year.
But in subsequent elections, candidates will need to have lived in their district for a year in order to qualify for local office.
The district includes much of downtown Macon and winds south to Rocky Creek Road.
To contact writer Maggie Lee, email firstname.lastname@example.org.