Warner Robins City Council will get at least one new member in the upcoming election and challengers are hoping for more.
Three seats are up for election and one is vacant. Stephen Baughier, Charlie Bibb and Eric Langston are competing for the Post 2 seat held by Carolyn Robbins, who did not seek re-election and died Sept. 30.
Meanwhile, Post 4 Councilman Tim Thomas is facing a challenge from Kevin Lashley, and Post 6 incumbent Larry Curtis Jr. is being challenged by Miranda Britt and Jon Nichols.
The election will be held Nov. 5. Early voting starts Oct. 15 and will be done at City Hall.
Post 2 is the only at-large seat on the ballot, meaning any registered voter in the city can vote in the race. The other two seats are district races. Voters unsure of their posts can go the Georgia Secretary of State’s website and put in their address on the myvoter page.
A new council member is coming from Post 2
Baughier, 41, operates Camp Financial Independence, which conducts personal finance retreats around the nation. He has lived in Warner Robins since he was 2. He holds a master’s degree in accountancy from Georgia College. He has previously done tax preparation and worked as a project controller for Northrop Grumman. He served three years in the Navy and six in the Air Force Reserve.
Baughier said if elected he wants to increase trust in the city government and improve communication with citizens.
“In recent history, some of the decisions that have been made seem to have been made without public knowledge,” he said. “You don’t hear about it until it’s too late.”
He said specifically the Perkins Field housing project the council recently approved was “in the works for multiple years” before it became known to the public.
Bibb, 50, has lived in Warner Robins since he was 10. He attended Northside High School and holds a GED diploma. He studied electronics at Central Georgia Technical College and is an electronics technician at Robins Air Force Base. He is a pastor at Liberty Independent Baptist Church and has been in the ministry for 19 years, he said.
He said he decided to run because he didn’t like the conflict he was seeing among city leaders.
“I absolutely love people and I love my city and decided to get up off of the couch and do something about what was going on,” he said. “There was so many people just communicating inside of our city (about) being embarrassed and frustrated at what is going on with the council and I was one of those people.”
He said if elected he would not come in and immediately try to make “radical changes” but would first learn and try to bring “unity” to the council.
Langston, 36, is a lifelong resident of Warner Robins and is making his second try at public office. He works at Robins Air Force Base, where he manages a small fleet of special operations helicopters.
In 2017, he narrowly lost a runoff for the vacant at-large Post 1 seat to Daron Lee.
Langston said if elected, public safety would be his top priority. He said he wants to find ways to keep emergency personnel from leaving to work elsewhere.
“I think it’s very important that council, moving forward, takes a deeper look into retention efforts, to job satisfaction,” he said. “Are first responders happy on the job? If so, they will stay with us, if not they will leave.”
He said he is also interested in looking at ways to increase manpower in public safety.
Thomas looks to hold onto seat
Lashley, 46, is a project manager for Servpro of Houston County, which primarily does cleanup from fire and water damage. He previously sold insurance for his family’s Allstate agency in Warner Robins, which he sold earlier this year.
He is a graduate of Warner Robins High School and holds as associate’s degree in turf management from Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College.
He said he has lived most of his life in Warner Robins. He said he lived a few years just outside the city limits until moving back into the city more than a year before qualifying. Thomas’ wife challenged Lashley’s eligibility to run for office, alleging he had not lived in the city for a year before qualifying as required, but the challenge was rejected.
Lashley said if elected his top priority would be to improve transparency in city government.
“My first leg of my platform has been to make sure we operate, do the business of our government, in the open,” he said. “Full transparency with the citizenry so they understand and know what’s going on on a daily basis.”
Thomas, 57, was first elected to council in 2013. He operated a bail bond business for many years but turned that over to other family members, he said, due to laws prohibiting elected officials from operating a bail bond business. He currently operates rental properties.
He is a graduate of Warner Robins High School and said he has lived in the city all of his life.
He said if re-elected, one of his priorities would be to increase manpower in the police department, utilities and public works. He also said he would like to continue economic development efforts, and said he has helped bring at least $30 million in development to the district. He said the city has improved utilities while he has been in office, which is important to development.
Thomas also touted his efforts to develop The Walk at Sandy Run, a new city park that opened recently.
Curtis draw two challengers in first election
Curtis is the incumbent in Post 6, but this is his first election. He was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Mike Davis, who died in office.
Britt, 25, is manager of Britt’s Northside Service Center, her family’s business. She is a mother of five, a graduate of Northside High School and has lived in Warner Robins all of her life.
She said she decided to run for office after a shooting near her home just over a year ago.
“My fear was that was going to happen and a bullet was going to fly through my house and kill one of my children,” she said. “So safety is probably my number one priority because of that reason.”
She said she would like to improve pay and benefits for police officers to fill vacancies.
She wants to see officers making more public outreach efforts to build better relations in the community. She also said she has heard from many residents that they feel ignored because of their economic status or other reasons.
“I want to be a voice for people who don’t feel like we don’t have a voice,” she said.
Nichols, 55, could achieve a rare feat if he is elected. Not many council members can say they have served on the council in two different cities.
Nichols said he has lived most of his life in Warner Robins, but he lived in Centerville for a few years and was elected to City Council there. He was defeated by Ed Armijo in 2015 in his attempt at re-election, and moved back to Warner Robins.
“Hopefully I can take what I learned there and bring it to my service time in Warner Robins,” he said.
Nichols is a graduate of Northside High School and is manager of Bug House Pest Control. He said “returning trust” and “returning integrity” to council would be one of his goals.
“The citizens of Warner Robins have lost faith, or have shallow faith, in everybody that’s down at City Hall right now,” he said.
Curtis, 43, is a lifelong resident of Warner Robins and is a graduate of Warner Robins High School. He is an equipment specialist in supply chain management at Robins, where he has worked for 21 years. He also owns an insurance company, a DUI school and an event center.
He said cleaning up blight in the city would be one of his top priorities.
“My district is hit hard with blight,” he said. “I really just want to clean up my area, try to bring businesses back to my area, just breathe life back into my district.”
He said one way he would achieve that is by giving code enforcement more resources to enforce laws already on the books. He said some of the most common violations he sees is homes and commercial buildings not being maintained and grass not being cut.