Houston & Peach

Roles are reversed this time for Warner Robins city councilman

Warner Robins City Council Post 3 candidate Terri Murray speaks at the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce candidate forum on Sept. 26.
Warner Robins City Council Post 3 candidate Terri Murray speaks at the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce candidate forum on Sept. 26. bcabell@macon.com

Four years ago in his first try at political office, Keith Lauritsen beat an incumbent to win the Warner Robins Post 3 City Council seat, and now he is the one looking to hold off a newcomer.

Lauritsen is opposed by Terri Murray in the Nov. 7 election. In 2013 he defeated incumbent Paul Shealy by 24 votes.

Lauritsen, 53, is principal of Byron Elementary School and a lifelong resident of Warner Robins. He holds a specialist degree in educational leadership from Georgia College.

He said if re-elected, his biggest priority in the next term would be to improve public safety. He favors hiring more police officers and using more technology to fight crime, including putting video surveillance in public areas that have been trouble areas for crime.

The city can pay for it through growth, he said. He noted that in the last council meeting, the city annexed three parcels totaling nearly 50 acres.

“By growing your city, you put millions of dollars on your tax base each year,” he said. “There’s all sorts of construction going on. As we speak, we are growing our tax base daily.”

He is strongly in favor of a city administrator, but he said he would be willing to sit down with whoever is elected mayor to discuss how it would affect the mayor’s job. Lauritsen said he could go with either a part-time mayor or full-time mayor, as long as there is an administrator.

“We’ve got to have someone so that regardless who the mayor is, the city can operate efficiently.”

If the city administrator position is working, he said he would favor looking later into a city manager, which would require a change in the city charter.

“That would have to go before the people in a referendum and let them vote on that,” he said.

MURRAY WANTS TO HELP YOUTH AND ELDERLY

Murray, 55, is making her first try at running for office. She has lived in Warner Robins since 1981 when her father, who served in the Air Force, was assigned to Robins Air Force Base for his last assignment. She graduated from high school on an air base in Japan.

She manages an accounting office and said she had previously started two businesses that were successful.

Helping the youth and elderly, she said, would be her biggest priority if she is elected. She said she has met elderly people in the city who are not able to take care of themselves.

“What I would like to do is ... re-establish some volunteer organizations that would go out and assist some of these people in their most necessary needs,” she said.

She said she would like to have youth centers that are open and available, where young people can get life skills and other training.

She said she would like to see the city have more career jobs.

“There’s not a lot of jobs that offer a lot of lifelong positions,” she said. “You can’t live a life off of fast food. You can’t live a life and raise a family working in a movie theater or a pizza parlor.”

She favors a city administrator, but she wants to keep the mayor’s job full time.

“If you don’t have them both as full time, you are going to run into some more problems,” she said. “I feel the mayor should stay full time because council is only part time. You still need to have somebody in authority that represents the city on a continual basis.”

She also said she believes the person hired as city administrator should be from Warner Robins.

Early voting is underway and will continue Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at City Hall until Nov. 3. A sample ballot can be seen at wrga.gov.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1

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