WARNER ROBINS -- Mayor Chuck Shaheen surprised a lot of people this summer when he announced he would seek a City Council post rather than re-election as the head of the city.
He is going up against a familiar face in November, as incumbent Post 1 councilman Mike Daley is seeking a second term in the at-large seat. Also joining the race are retired firefighter Charlie Scott and the Rev. Jeffrey Walker, who has made three previous unsuccessful bids for council.
Here’s a look at what each candidate said he wants to accomplish if elected.
Daley, 64, wants a second, four-year term on council to see projects through that are already underway.
“The main reason I want to be re-elected is I’m a team player,” Daley said. “We’ve got quite a few projects we’ve started and we need to complete.”
He said the No. 1 priority of Warner Robins residents is public safety. Also:
“We have the economic engine of Robins Air Force Base to take care of,” Daley said, noting he’s a strong supporter of the 21st Century Partnership. “I do that by supporting the missions of Robins Air Force Base and making sure that we as a community are a good, safe place to live ... that we’re providing the necessary services for people to want to live here ... that whatever is on the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) checklist that needs to be performed from a city official, that we’re assisting in that effort.”
Daley also hit on the importance of economic development partnerships with the development authorities of Houston and Peach counties. He’d like to focus on development along Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parkway near Interstate 75.
“A way to keep taxes low is to have a good mix of taxes and not be totally dependent on the property taxes but also have some commercial and retail taxes,” he said.
While on council, Daley said the city has filled in and expanded its boundaries, kept property taxes low, purchased property for a proposed sports complex, secured land for a new fire station and donated property to the state for a veterans training center. The city also purchased Walker’s Pond with plans to transform it into a city park, he said.
He also touted his college education and management experience. He said those skills have been sharpened while on council through interaction with the Georgia Municipal Association and the Carl Vinson Institute.
Daley criticized Shaheen’s leadership ability as mayor.
“That’s a job for a leader with strong management skills,” said Daley, who noted the city charter defines the mayor’s role similar to that of a chief executive officer and the council’s role as a board of directors. “It appears that office has fallen a little short in those areas.”
Daley said council members have repeatedly requested work sessions to no avail or have been told that they don’t have a role in economic development, for example, because that’s the mayor’s role.
Retired veteran firefighter and emergency room technician Charlie Scott, 71, said he’s served Warner Robins in varied capacities on community boards through the years. Now, Scott said he’d like the opportunity to serve as an elected official.
In his first bid for public office, Scott touted his service on the combined employee credit union board, on the Meals on Wheels board of directors, as a Civitan Club member and as a public relations officer for the Montford Point Marine Association, a nonprofit veterans group.
“This my home,” Scott said. “I’ve been here for over 60 years, and all I‘ve done is serve the community. ... I come with peace and harmony to move the city forward.”
Scott retired as a city firefighter with the rank of lieutenant after serving for more than 30 years. He also served some as an ER technician for Houston Medical Center for more than 30 years, some of those overlapping with his firefighting career.
Scott said he’d like to be a part of helping to move along city projects already in the works. He said he’d especially like to see improvements in recreation.
His decision to run was also based on encouragement from family, friends and others. Scott said he was surprised when Shaheen entered the race because he said Shaheen had called him a year ago and encouraged him to run. But Shaheen said Scott asked him about running and that he encouraged him, as he would anyone, to run for public office.
Shaheen, 52, said moving from mayor to councilman will allow him to remain active in politics, while also allowing him to return to the private sector to best provide for his family and for later retirement.
“I think my skills as more of a visionary person will be better suited,” Shaheen said. “I can still serve the city of Warner Robins and be able to get back in the workforce.”
Shaheen touted building a relationship with Robins Air Force Base, his oversight of the construction of a new law enforcement center, the addition of green space such as Unity Park at Leverette and Corder roads, improving the International City Golf Course and the upcoming construction of a new fire station off Ga. 96.
Shaheen said the city needs to work on cleaning up blighted areas and developing a park on the west side of Warner Robins. He said the city already has 33 acres near Springwood Drive and Russell Parkway that is well suited for walking trails and other amenities.
Also, he would like to continue to ensure the financial stability of the city and continue to oversee the expenditure of earmarked revenues from the penny sales tax.
Noting his term of mayor was a “trial by fire,” Shaheen said is committed to serving the residents of Warner Robins and helping the next mayor be the best that he can be.
“That’s something I didn’t have,” Shaheen said.
Over his tenure, Shaheen has had some contentious moments with council members.
“The contention I have with council is when they bring up stuff that’s not on the agenda,” Shaheen said. “That’s not the way you run a meeting.”
For example, Shaheen said council members voted to pay employees $200,000 as part of a pay adjustment that wasn’t in the 2012 budget. The funds were set aside in the planned 2013 budget, Shaheen said. Shaheen said he next proposed a 2014 salary study but council voted it down.
“You have to plan,” he said.
Although the mayor is responsible for running the city, Shaheen said much of what he’s called to do requires a majority vote of council.
“I have all the responsibility of the city, but I don’t have the authority to make things right,” he said.
As to his leadership abilities, Shaheen said he surrounds himself with qualified people. As result, criticism of his leadership, he said, is like an attack on city employees.
Walker remains undaunted in his quest to serve on city council -- now in his fourth bid. He ran unsuccessfully in 2011, 2009 and 2005. During his 2011 campaign, Walker complained that he was harassed by police and issued a “false citation” for a seat belt violation after driving his campaign truck on South Davis Drive in front of McConnell-Talbert Stadium during a Friday night football game.
In his 2013 campaign announcement emailed to The Telegraph, Walker spoke about a vision for Warner Robins and touched on several goals.
Those goals included creating jobs, alleviating traffic congestion, the formation of a public transportation system and building an athletics complex. He also touched on expanding the city’s infrastructure, including building a northeast parkway between Houston and Bibb counties.
The Telfair County native, who has described himself as a Methodist-ordained elder and a retired pastor, moved to Warner Robins in 1993. Repeated attempts to interview Walker about his candidacy were unsuccessful.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.