Of the four candidates running for the Macon Water Authority’s District 3 seat, none has ever held political office before.
But two of the four candidates -- Ed Hatcher and Steve Skalko -- are touting their practical experience with the technical aspects of overseeing the authority.
Those two candidates will square off with Dwight Jones and Alan Thiese May 20 in the nonpartisan race to replace Steve Rickman, who stepped down from the seat he’d held for seven years in order to run for the chairmanship.
Hatcher, 43, sells mining and pipe supplies, which he said gives him a familiarity with the systems the water authority uses.
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“I think my background in the pipeline industry will help,” he said. “I have new ideas on new components we can use. I think we need to maintain the infrastructure, and it takes a lot of money to fix problems. ... (The water authority) deals with business and industry each day. They all know the importance of the water and sewer system. I’ll bring some knowledge to the table as far as the concerns of customers.”
Skalko, 61, worked as an engineer for both the city and Bibb County and knows the infrastructure of the water system well, he said.
“My technical expertise brings value for the Macon Water Authority board,” he said. “I think, obviously, we’re home to a top-notch water and sewer system. I want us to move forward. There are a lot of technical challenges, and the staff is looking for guidance from the board. ... (The water authority) is different than other government bodies. It’s operated in a businesslike manner, using revenues to keep the system in top shape but also to keep the water rates low.”
Though he doesn’t have the technical expertise of his opponents, Jones, 48, a real estate agent, said his experience in business would be an asset, since he wants to market Macon’s water in order to attract industry to the area.
“We can create not only a job base, but a tax base in the county,” Jones said. “The water authority is a business. I understand board governance a great deal, and I’m also involved in a lot of agricultural water.”
Jones said he has concerns about how the authority has handled sewage spill notifications, and he would implement a plan that includes large, visible signs in the affected area, social media alerts, and phone and email notifications to affected customers.
Thiese, 74, is retired from the Navy as well as Brown & Williamson. Of the four, he’s the only one to have run for office, running twice for the Bibb County Board of Commissioners and once for the Bibb County Board of Education.
Thiese said that as a retiree, he’d be accessible to residents in District 3 and would have the time to research board issues.
“With my military background, rather than complain about a problem, I’d be proactive,” he said. “It’s inherent in my lifestyle to do what I can to help other people.”
Thiese said technical expertise is less important on the board, because the MWA staff handles infrastructure issues. Thiese said he wants to maintain the MWA’s national reputation for quality.
“We have a good thing going,” he said. “As we said in 4-H, our motto is, ‘We want to make the best better.’ ”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.