Houston & Peach

Social media campaigning an integral part of Warner Robins mayoral bids

From left, Warner Robins mayoral candidates Joe Musselwhite, Chuck Shaheen, and Randy Toms responded to questions during a forum at Central Georgia Technical College.
From left, Warner Robins mayoral candidates Joe Musselwhite, Chuck Shaheen, and Randy Toms responded to questions during a forum at Central Georgia Technical College. bcabell@macon.com

The three candidates for Warner Robins mayor are all making their second run for the office, and all of them said they have used social media much more this time around to get their message out.

Warner Robins is among several cities across Middle Georgia holding elections Tuesday. There are mayoral races in Milledgeville, Fort Valley, Gordon, Gray and Roberta, as well as council and school board contests across the midstate. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Warner Robins mayoral candidates said they dabbled in social media during their previous runs, but this time it is a key part of their campaign, especially Facebook. All of them have posted videos detailing their positions on various issues, as well as regular posts on their latest campaign activities.

Mayor Randy Toms drew challenges from Chuck Shaheen and Joe Musselwhite in his bid for re-election. Shaheen served as mayor before Toms, but he stepped aside to run for and win an at-large council seat. Musselwhite was among six candidates running for mayor in 2013, and he made the runoff with Toms, but lost.

Shaheen said even he has been surprised at the number of views his videos have gotten. The videos have gotten about 40,000 views in total, and a couple of them have gotten more than 9,000 views.

“I think our campaign has run a real social media friendly campaign to reach all the people,” he said.

Musselwhite said social media isn’t the only thing different about the campaign this time around. He believes it has been much more issue oriented than the last election cycle.

“This time the city has issues that are top priorities that have to be addressed,” he said. “I found out there are a lot of concerned citizens.”

Toms said another key difference for him this time is that he was a retiree when he ran in 2013. Now he is campaigning while also serving as a full-time mayor.

“I’ve always said campaigning was the hardest thing I had ever done until I tried to be mayor and campaign,” he said.

Use of social media doesn’t seem to be generating new voters, though. Early voting, which ended Friday, was showing about the same numbers as the 2013 election, when about 20 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.

Campaign disclosure reports were due Wednesday, and Shaheen was the top fundraiser, followed by Toms and then Musselwhite.

Shaheen showed that as of Oct. 31, he had raised $35,755, with $14,187 still on hand. Toms’ report, filed on Oct. 30, showed he has raised $31,966, with $22,246 unspent. Musselwhite has raised $12,810 total and still had $8,082 as of Oct. 31.

Also on the ballot in Warner Robins, four people are competing for the Post 1 at-large seat that Shaheen is vacating. Eric Langston, Daron Lee, Jim Taylor and Jeffery Walker are the candidates. Post 3 Councilman Keith Lauritsen drew opposition from Terri Murray.

Lauritsen, Murray and Walker did not have to file financial disclosure forms because they signed affidavits stating they would not raise more than $2,500.

Among those who did file, Langston has raised the most money, with $17,950 as of Oct. 30 and $1,466 on hand. Taylor showed $11,482 total in contributions as of Oct. 25, and $5,995 unspent. Lee raised $6,838 as of Oct. 30 and still had $4,838.

If you don’t know where your voting site is, go to the Georgia Secretary of State website at sos.ga.gov, click on the “elections” tab and then “Where do I vote.”

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1

Here’s a sampler of races on Tuesday’s midstate ballots:

BYRON

Council, Post 3: Michael S. Chumbley, incumbent; Farrell W. Bass

Council, Post 4: Michael L. Chidester, incumbent; Lauren P. Dampier

Council, Post 5: Alan C. Dorsey, incumbent

CENTERVILLE

Mayor: John Harley, incumbent

Council, Post 1: Cameron Andrews, incumbent

Council, Post 2: Justin Wright

DUBLIN

Council at large (Top 3 elected): Jerry Davis, incumbent; Curtis Edwards Jr., Sophia Jordan, Gerald Smith Jr., Troy C. Windham

Board of Education at large: Nelson Carswell IV, Regina M. McRae

Board of Education Super District I: Kenny Walters

Board of Education, Super District II: John A. Bell III, incumbent

FORSYTH

Council, Post 2: Chris M. Hewett, incumbent

Council, Post 5: Julius Stroud III, incumbent

Council, Post: 6 Mike Dodd, incumbent

FORT VALLEY

Mayor: Barbara Williams, incumbent; JoAnne Dankle, Jamie Johnson and Ralph Davis

Council, East Ward: Post 1: Juanita Bryant, incumbent

Council, at large: Constance Rainey, Marvin Crafter

Council, West Ward, Post 2: Carla Gowan, Rose Marie Thompson

Utility Commissioner, Post 3, at large: Alre’ Horton, Ralph Lambert

Utility Commissioner, Post 1, East Ward: Linda Johnson, incumbent

GORDON

Mayor: Mary Whipple-Lue, incumbent; Kenneth Turner

Council (Top 3 elected): Bruce S. Daniel, Rose Lawrence, Phyllis Pane, William Sanders Jr., Barbara Bullock Towles, Doretha S. Whipple

GRAY

Mayor: James Collins, Ed Barbee

Mayor Pro Tem: Kema Greene Clark, Ken Tapee

Council, Post 1: David Tufts, incumbent; Richard L. Tipton

Council, Post 2: Benny Gray Jr., incumbent

Council, Post 3: Terrell Fulford, incumbent

Council, Post 4: Terry Favors, incumbent

MILLEDGEVILLE

Mayor: Gary L. Thrower, incumbent; Mary Parham-Copelan

Council, District 1: Collinda J. Lee

Council, District 2: Jeanette H. Walden

Council, District 3: Denese Shinholster

Council, District 4: Walter Reynolds

Council, District 5: Richard “Boo” Mullins Jr., incumbent; Harry E. Keim

Council, District 6: Steve Chambers

GMC Board of Trustees, District 6: Mike D. Cobb, Calvin Hill

MONROE COUNTY

Commission, District 4: George Emami, Randy Gonzalez, Barry S. Peters

Board of Education, District 2: Steve Coleman, Priscilla Grant Doster

PERRY

Mayor: Jimmy Faircloth, incumbent

Council, District 1, Post 1: Phyllis Bynum-Grace, incumbent

Council, District 2, Post 1: Robert Jones, incumbent

Council, District 3, Post 1: Randall Walker, incumbent;

ROBERTA

Mayor: Becky Smith, incumbent, Jay Andrews

Council, Post 1: Billy J. Bassett, incumbent; Charles M. Cook, Joe T. Mathews, Clay Moncrief

Council, Post 2: Ervin Patton, incumbent; Bobby Joe Daniel, Sherry Thompson

WARNER ROBINS

Mayor: Randy Toms, incumbent; Joe Musselwhite, Chuck Shaheen

Council, Post 1: Jeffrey L. Walker; Jim Taylor; Daron Lee, Eric Langston

Council, Post 3: Keith Lauritsen, incumbent; Terri Murray

Council, Post 5: Clifford Holmes, incumbent

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