WARNER ROBINS -- Political newcomer Keith Lauritsen is challenging incumbent Paul Shealy for the Warner Robins City Council Post 3 seat in the Nov. 5 election.
Both are focused on quality of life issues and talked about serving people from all walks of life.
An educator for 20 years, Lauritsen knew he would go into politics; he just didn’t realize it would be before he retired.
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The 49-year-old, who graduated from Warner Robins High School in 1983, has been a principal, assistant principal and teacher at various schools in Middle Georgia. The experience he’s gained from dealing with close to 800 students and 100 teachers prepared him for the realm of politics, Lauritsen said. He is currently a teacher at Southwest High School in Macon.
Some of his strengths, he said, are his ability to be a good listener and what he has learned from his involvement in youth sports.
As chairman of the Recreation Advisory Committee for Warner Robins, Lauritsen said he is focused on creating a strategy to use the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax funds for a recreation center.
“We’ve got great plans, but I think we need to drop the politics and get started,” he said.
From coaching a travel baseball team, Lauritsen has seen many different recreational facilities in his 10 to 15 years of coaching, which he said will help him bring the recreation aspect to fruition.
Other issues he sees facing the city are public safety, transportation and beautification.
While saying what a great place Warner Robins is to live, Lauritsen said, “we can’t just sit back and rest on our laurels.”
He explained that quality of life, from the stay-at-home mother to retired residents, needs to be taken into account.
“You have to get the input from different groups and citizens,” said Lauritsen.
Lauritsen has been married to Amy Lauritsen for 20 years, and the couple has three children: Molly Katherine, 17; Matthew Keith, 15; and Mark Kasen, 11.
Shealy, 68, has lived in Warner Robins since 1958. The former Robins Air Force Base employee and business owner graduated from Warner Robins High School in 1963.
He said some of the main issues facing the city involve projects he has worked on during his time in office. They include road resurfacing, street light installations and construction of a new fire station on Ga. 96. Land was recently donated for the project.
“You have to have someone to stay on it,” said Shealy. He said he’s the best person to do that because he has the knowledge of what it takes to get things done in government and has friendships with lawmakers.
Shealy said he would also like to see a sidewalk added on Watson Boulevard from Houston Road to Houston Lake Road.
Businesses along the stretch of road have asked for the project, which Shealy said would benefit all of Warner Robins, not just people in his district.
Shealy said he wants to make sure both senior citizens and young families have the same opportunities.
He is a member of the Senior Citizens Activity Board as well as a former coach at the Warner Robins Recreation Department. He also volunteered to help park cars at Little League Southeast Park during the regional tournaments hosted during the summer.
Shealy also ran a fall youth baseball program for five years in the ’90s called Middle Georgia Fall Ball League. He grew the program from 60 children to more than 300 from 22 counties in Georgia. “The future of the city are our young people,” Shealy said.
Shealy has been married to Vicki Shealy for 37 years. He has four children and 10 grandchildren; the youngest is 3 years old.
“I’m just a Warner Robins resident who loves Warner Robins,” he said. “I’m trying to pay it forward.”