Hart tops Bishop for Bibb County Commission chairman

Democrat Sam Hart pushed Republican Charlie Bishop out of the Bibb County chairmanship Tuesday night.

Hart defeated Bishop, who has served as chairman of the commission for the last four years, 37,973 to 25,254 votes.

“I’m feeling really good now,” Hart said from his crowded election headquarters on Poplar Street. “I’m very pleased with what our supporters have done.”

Hart, 67, said he was pleased to have a strong showing in precincts in all parts of Bibb. He said he plans to start talking with commissioners and other community members about making a plan for the county.

Bishop said he wished Hart well.

“I think I ran a good race, and I think my record speaks for itself,” Bishop said. “I’m proud of my record, and I wouldn’t do a thing different.”Bishop, 64, said he faced an uphill battle this election considering that Bibb already is a Democratic county, and even more Democrats came out this year to vote in the presidential race.

“Once they go in and vote for the president and the congressmen, finally when they get down to someone they didn’t go to vote for, they vote for their party,” he said.

Bishop has served as chairman since 2004 and before that served as the District 4 commissioner since 2000. During his time on the board, Bishop served as a fiscal conservative who questioned spending in the budget and worked to keep taxes low.

During the election, he touted the 4,000 jobs he said he helped bring to Bibb County during his years as chairman. He said he had the connections and know-how to help bring more jobs and economic development to Bibb.

Hart first was elected to the commission in 1996. He served as District 1 commissioner until 2007 when he resigned because he moved out of his district.Hart said that he decided to run for chairman even before he left the board. He said the county government needed to be more proactive than reactive and that he was best suited to work with other community and governmental groups.

Hart said he would be more hands-on than Bishop in areas of education and crime.

In the District 4 race, Commissioner Joe Allen, a Democrat, defeated his challenger, Republican Maurice Atkinson, 11,321 to 4,544 votes. It was the second time Atkinson, 46, challenged Allen, 58.

“Obama-mania really got us, I think,” Atkinson said. “There were a few bright spots, but not enough to make any sizable difference.”

Atkinson ran on a platform of building a balanced budget, working with intergovernmental agencies and community groups and bringing ethics to the commission.

He accused Allen, who has been on and off the commission since 1989, of several ethics violations, including misuse of the county cell phone, travel abuse and double-dipping into his pension.

“I feel very humble that the people didn’t believe all the negative that was put out about me and that they really believed in me,” said Allen, who has consistently denied all allegations.

During the campaign, he said Atkinson was bitter that Allen played a part in removing him, along with the rest of the tax assessors, from the Macon-Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors following the botched 2006 revaluation.

Allen said he was running for office again because there still is work he wants to see done, such as create a one-stop shop for business licenses and find a solution to dealing with an aging courthouse.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.

Bibb Commission Chairman

Charlie Bishop, R, (i) – 25,254

Sam Hart, D – 37,973

42 of 43 precincts reporting

Bibb Commission, District 4

Joe Allen, D, (i) – 11,321

Maurice Atkinson, R – 4,544

42 of 43 precincts reporting

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