Warner Robins Councilman Daron Lee to run for mayor

WARNER ROBINS -- A second council member announced Tuesday he intends to run for mayor in November, touting his experience and community involvement.

“I have a vision for our city and the next generation,” said Councilman Daron Lee. “I will represent all of the people, not just some of the people.”

In a sermon-like speech in front of City Hall, Lee said he would push for public transit, federal grant applications, recreation and economic development. Above all, he said, a team atmosphere is needed to accomplish anything.

“A vote for me is a vote for a team of people to serve and deliver,” Lee said.

The mayoral ballot is quickly gaining prospects, and it seemed Tuesday one would not be Mayor Chuck Shaheen. Lee said he and Shaheen talked about Lee running as the mayor’s successor to ensure someone with council experience maintains some continuity in the seat. To questions of whether Lee’s announcement means Shaheen is not running, Lee said:

“With him being here today, of course he showed his support. He has not verbally said he is not (running). We can certainly lean towards I’m running as his successor, not running against him.”

Shaheen has said he won’t announce his intentions until after budget season. The budget must be passed by July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year. Qualifying is in August.

Shaheen said Tuesday he wishes Lee well.

“He’s been a godly man and helped our city forward over the past four years,” Shaheen said, though he declined to comment whether he’s endorsing Lee.

Lee, a minister, is a one-term councilman for Post 5, a district that mostly represents the older parts of the city north and east.

He’s known for a laid-back style that erupts when pushing certain issues. One exchange between him and former Councilman John Williams, though, earned him national headlines.

Public transit was a major part of Lee’s announcement. He said services would allow all residents opportunities and with that, an improved local economy.

Lee also mentioned the sports complex and north-side health clinic as two projects that need to be completed.

“I do believe that more concentration on economic development, in order to create future revenue streams for the city and jobs for the citizens in Warner Robins and Middle Georgia, are needed,” Lee said.

As other mayoral hopefuls, Lee acknowledged Robins Air Force Base as the main driver of the city’s economic base.

After the announcement, Lee answered questions about how a mayoral role would affect him logistically. He would have to resign from the Building Authority. And he struck down any nepotism conflicts that could occur with his brother Gary Lee’s position as Redevelopment Agency executive director.

“He answers to the board, not to the mayor,” Lee said, adding if ever mayor and council needed to make a decision regarding his brother, he would abstain as he does now.

Since Lee’s term ends in December, he is not required to relinquish his council post while running for mayor.

Councilman Mike Brashear will have to vacate his Post 4 seat once he qualifies for the mayoral race in August. Brashear announced his bid for the seat last week. Public Works Director Joe Musselwhite, Robins Air Force Base employee Chuck Chalk and former firefighter Randy Toms also have announced their intention to run.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.