Cousino: I’ll run for Macon mayor again

Businessman David Cousino is planning a second run for mayor of Macon next year, and he’s been gathering talking points from behind shaggier hair.

He let his short-haired, clean-shaven look from 2007 go for two purposes, he said: one is for a “clean up on David”-themed fundraiser sometime in January, and the other is to mingle with residents incognito and hear their concerns.

“I’m having fun with it, because these people don’t even know who I am,” Cousino said. “I’m like an ‘Undercover Boss’ to the people out here right now.”

One current controversy has provoked a lot of comment, he said.

“The biggest issue is the pay scale with everybody,” Cousino said. “That should have been taken care of a long time ago.”

He disagrees with Macon Mayor Robert Reichert’s proposal, suggesting larger raises for police lieutenants and captains, and saying that a proposed 24 percent increase for the city’s chief administrative officer should wait for better economic times. But Cousino also takes issue with a proposal from pay plan critic Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, saying her suggestion of a one-time $500 bonus for employees wouldn’t mean very much after taxes, and it wouldn’t do anything to change employees’ position next fiscal year.

Cousino had some harsh words for City Council members in general, saying they haven’t stood up for police officers.

“They’re in there for themselves instead of taking care of the people of Macon or of the people who work for Macon,” he said.

Cousino, who turns 50 on Christmas Eve, is a Michigan native who moved to Macon in 1986. He holds a degree in business marketing from Columbus Business University in Columbus, Ohio, manages Flexible Security and works with Dublin-based Northstar ADT.

Cousino won the 2007 Republican mayoral primary with 61 percent of the vote, but he lost overwhelmingly to Reichert in the general election.

The other candidates who have said they intend to run for mayor in 2011 -- Reichert, former Mayor Jack Ellis and firefighter Paul Bronson -- are all Democrats.

Some of the things Cousino wanted in the last election have come about, such as the new Macon Transit Authority bus line to Robins Air Force Base, but it should be expanded to serve more of the city of Warner Robins, he said.

On the struggle to keep the Georgia sports and music halls of fame in Macon, Cousino said he’d like to see local colleges involved in running them.

Students could intern at the halls for little cost, in exchange for academic credit and job skills, he said.

Cousino’s other concerns don’t sound much different from Reichert’s. He suggests a direct transit line to Macon Mall, to aid its revival, and redirecting logging trucks from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard -- both ideas mentioned by Reichert in his pitch for tax allocation districts for revitalization.

Likewise, Cousino is an advocate of rail travel. But he said Macon needs to become a testing ground for a truly high-speed rail network, with trains running at more than 100 mph to Atlanta, Columbus and Savannah, not just “Boxcar Annie” slower trains to neighboring communities, he said.

Making Macon a rail hub would encourage passenger air traffic to shift here from overloaded Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Cousino said.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.