Mayoral candidates discuss seniors issues at WR forum

WARNER ROBINS — Wednesday’s candidates forum, geared toward issues facing seniors, found Warner Robins mayoral candidates talking about litter, traffic and expanding programs for seniors in the city.

The morning forum, sponsored by the Warner Robins chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, also touched on general issues including G-RAMP, the proposed police department facility and term limits for elected officials. Mayoral candidates Chuck Chalk, Clifford Holmes Jr. and Chuck Shaheen spent more than an hour discussing their plans for the city with NARFE members.

“(Seniors) are the backbone of our community ... and (Warner Robins) relies on you as you serve this city every day,” Chalk said when asked about expanding programs for seniors in the city. “We need to look at opportunities where seniors would be engaged. What would you like to do with your time? Let’s find an avenue where you can put that to use.”

Shaheen, a pharmaceutical sales representative, said he would like to see more seniors play ambassadorial roles for the city.

“I’d love for someone to sit at City Hall sort of as a greeter,” he said. “Every day, the people who come through the doors ... would be greeted with a smile. You all are the wisdom and the leaders in our city.”

Holmes, also the city councilman for Post 5, mentioned a program he started in the school system where seniors were taking computer classes, and backed up claims by his challengers that more needed to be done for seniors. He also mentioned talks with other seniors about the housing offered to older citizens in neighboring cities.

“We need to take care of our own ... right here in Warner Robins,” he said. “We’ve got to offer more programs for senior citizens.”

All three discussed the need for movement on the Georgia-Robins Aerospace Maintenance Partnership, with Shaheen saying he’d make it a priority within the first 100 days. They also spoke of the need for a new police department facility. Holmes, who served as acting mayor for the city for 70 days late last year, said a site on Prince Street was selected under his watch. Shaheen and Holmes felt a better spot was needed than the city’s recent decision to place the structure at the corner of Mulberry Street and Watson Boulevard, where Jimmy Perkins Memorial Field currently sits.

Moderator Ken Martin asked the candidates what they would do about the city’s current traffic woes, including what many have said is an over-saturation of stop signs.

“I mean, there’s a stop sign at dead-end roads,” Martin said.

Holmes said there was a need for the stop signs at the time, and they became excessive as the city grew out. He agreed someone needed to go back and address the signs and their use now. Shaheen mentioned a study approved by the city council last week to take a look at traffic flow,

Chalk said all the discussion should end.

“This comes up every stop I make,” he said. “If you get in a car daily, you know there are traffic problems in Warner Robins. On Saturday, there are parts of the city I won’t go to. The debate should end and the action should start. We need to come up with a comprehensive plan looking at traffic flow. Bring the smart people together and make a decision.”

To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.