WARNER ROBINS -- Eva Folse has never held a political office, and her candidacy for mayor came as a surprise, but don’t tell her husband that she has a name recognition problem.
“Eva talks to everybody, and a lot of people know her that way,” said Dave Folse. “I don’t know of a place we walk into that we don’t run into somebody who knows her.”
This isn’t her first dip into political waters. She ran unsuccessfully for the Houston County school board in 1982 and for the county commission in 1990. She also has been a delegate to two Republican national conventions.
Folse had not previously announced her candidacy when she qualified on the last day. She said she waited because she had been looking after a woman with Alzheimer’s disease, so she wasn’t sure if she would have the time. Then the woman’s daughter moved here to look after her, so she decided to qualify.
Folse didn’t offer a lot of specifics about what she would do as mayor, and she gave a reason why.
“American politics has become mostly image and no substance,” she said. “I don’t want to promise everything under the sun and not keep my promises. The only thing I promise is that I will be sincere and work hard.”
She did say the first thing she would do as mayor is order an audit of all departments. She said she has made open records requests to the city for records to compare the city budget versus actual spending over the past 12 years but has been denied.
She has raised questions in the past about certain city spending practices. Asked if she considers herself a gadfly, she said, “I’m happy holding politicians’ feet to the fire.”
Run-in with animal control
In May, Warner Robins Animal Control seized 11 cats Folse had at a rental house she owns and issued her 31 citations, including citations for not having rabies shots up to date, having too many cats and animal care violations. The case is still pending, and Folse said animal control has her cats and won’t let her see them.
She called the case “selective prosecution.” She admitted the rabies shots were out of date, but she said she had a mobile vet go to the animal shelter the day after the cats were seized to correct that.
She also admitted there were feces in the house, but she sharply denied the cats weren’t well taken care of. She said some of the cats came from her work volunteering with an animal rescue group.
She said she had kept the cats at a house with 5 acres of land, which she said would not be subject to the three-cat limit on the number of cats. However, she said that house was being renovated, and that’s why the cats were at the house where animal control found them.
She said she plans to fight the charges in court and has hired an attorney to represent her, and she wants to get her cats back.
She said the incident played a role in her decision to run for mayor, but it was not the only reason.
According to an incident report on the case, animal control went to the house after a complaint from a neighbor. The officers said they immediately smelled an odor upon approaching the house and found a large amount of feces and hair inside. Folse would not let them into the house until the officers secured a search warrant.
The report states officers found seven cats closed off in one room with no food and a “large amount of feces scattered throughout the room.”
Folse was also cited for interference when she lifted the door of one of the carriers where officers had placed a cat, and the cat escaped. Folse said she was only trying to check on the cat.
She was set to go to court last week, but the case was postponed because Folse’s attorney had to be in court on another case. A new date has not been set.
Folse’s parents are from Poland. They fled the country at the end of World War II as the Soviets took over, and Folse was born on a British ship. She is a naturalized U.S. citizen and speaks Polish fluently.
She worked many years as an insurance agent. She has also been a substitute teacher, worked in a shirt factory and taught defensive driving.
“I think your education and your life experience means a lot in how you deal with people,” she said.
She said she considered running for mayor four years ago but instead decided to support Chuck Chalk, who is one of her five opponents this year. She said she was closely involved in Chalk’s campaign.
She said she does not have any single biggest priority, but she said protecting Robins Air Force Base from closure would be an important one. A Base Realignment and Closure Commission remains a possibility, but Folse said that’s not the only threat.
“It’s not just BRAC that could close the base,” she said. “It could be other things. We are living in trying times with the national politics like they are. We would be a ghost town if that base were to close.”
She did not offer any specifics on what the city can do to help protect the base, but she said resolving the encroachment issue was an important accomplishment.
Folse, who said she lives in an old neighborhood, said she would support a bond issue to pay for replacing the city’s aging water and sewer pipes.
“I don’t know what the cost would be off the top of my head, but it’s something you have to do,” she said. “It’s like the garbage being picked up.”
Keep youth busy
Folse said an important part of reducing crime is to get young people more involved in positive activities. She said she has been monitoring Municipal Court and has seen large numbers of youth brought in for shoplifting.
“I’d like to have an inspiring message to the young people to do something with themselves and get involved and improve, even if it’s your front yard,” she said. “Our culture is deteriorating, and it concerns me. People don’t take care of things much.”
She questioned whether the city should get involved in starting a public transit system.
“That has to be subsidized,” she said. “It’s very expensive, and we really don’t have a downtown. We are so spread out. I don’t think it’s feasible to subsidize that in Warner Robins.”
Centerville Mayor John Harley, who isn’t actively supporting any of the candidates, said he has known Folse for many years and was once her neighbor.
“She’s always been very involved in a lot of things,” he said. “She’s very pro animal. She’s a good-hearted person, and she’s very smart.”
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.