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Wake Up Macon!

July 2008



Political Watch:

Informal Poll Shows That Many Bibb County Residents Can’t Name Their Elected Officials




By James Wright



The views in this editorial do not necessarily represent those of The Georgia Informer or its staff



The primary responsibility of any elected official is to represent the people’s interest.  The citizens of Macon elected the mayor, the city council and the commissioners to do this on the various issues that affect them and their communities.  They put their trust in these individuals through the voting process.  Elected officials have a duty and responsibility to stay connected with their constituents in order to be knowledgeable of the issues that the citizens want their representatives to pursue.  The 21st century requires all politicians to perform a new style of representation.  This requires communication, commitment, dedication, and hard work.  Old school methods must yield to the new style of change, meaning backroom politics must yield to frontline representation.  Honesty, integrity, and visibility are key elements of the truly committed elected official.


Therefore, I decided recently to conduct an informal poll to determine how many Macon and Bibb County residents actually know who their elected officials are and if they do, what is their opinion of each official’s performance in office.


Over 100 residents were randomly called from the telephone book based on their street addresses and asked three questions: 1. Are you a registered voter?  2. Can you name the Macon City Council members and the Bibb County Commissioner who represent your area of town or the county?  3. What do you think of the job they are doing for you?


The results were surprising at times; dismaying at others.  Therefore, this month’s discussion will be based largely on these results, with points being added or deducted, depending on each council member and Commissioner’s visibility and dedication to positive change for the residents represented.


Mayor Robert ReichertNearly 100% of polled registered voters know who Mayor Reichert is.  Results were split down the middle, with most people wanting to burn my ear off with either their latest disagreement of an action of his, or applauding one.  Visible he is, though.  Positive remarks tipped the scale slightly.  Result? 5 points added to score.


Macon City Council


City Council President Miriam Paris – 70% of those polled know who Paris is and even if the person didn’t vote for her, still felt that she is doing the best she can and may prove to be a good leader for Macon City Council.  Result? 15 points added to score.


Larry Schlesinger – Only about 45% of those polled recognized Schlesinger’s name, but of those who did, all felt that he is a good man who will not compromise his principles.  Result? 15 points added to score.


James Timley – 80% of residents knew that James Timley represented them, but 70% of those people stated that they did not know of anything that Timley had done for them.  Result? 3 points deducted from score (high visibility, but no action)


Rick Hutto – Only about 50% know who Hutto is, but that 50% made glowing remarks about him, ranging from how smart he is to his high level of integrity.  A few even said that other council members should be more like him.  Result? 25 points added to score.


Lauren Benedict – Not well known (only about 50% could name her), nevertheless, Benedict’s dedication and intelligence were mentioned every time.  Residents felt that her career as an attorney gave her an edge as far as being fair and just.  Result? 15 points added to score (with room for more if she demonstrates fairness and justice).



Tom Ellington – Only 40% of those polled could name Ellington as their representative, but all but 5% talked about his intelligence (he’s a college professor) and dedication to positive change.  Result? Score remains the same (needs to get to know the people in his district).


Alveno Ross – 65% knew Ross and of those who voted for him (80% of those) said that he is smart and will debate the issues, but that he talks too much and his colorful language is a bit much at times.  Result? 10 points added to score (more talk is always better than none at all).



Charles Jones – 65% could name Charles Jones and although he is said to be dedicated, most (80%) stated that they felt he wasn’t knowledgeable about the issues.  Result? 5 points added to score for dedication (room for significant improvement in representation and score).


Virgil Watkins – Only about 50% of those polled could name Watkins as their council member.  The vast majority of those (95%) said that although young and inexperienced, he is energetic and brings new blood to City Council.  Result? 10 points added to score because Macon City Council really needs new ideas and more energy.


North Macon:

Nancy White – 60% of North Macon residents know who White is.  Described as smart and assertive by 80% of those polled, White shows promise.  Result? 15 points added to score.


Erick Erickson – 70% could name Erickson as their city council member.  Described by most (80%) as knowledgeable about the issues, likeable, and a partisan Republican, Erickson will probably work for his district with zeal (this is his first term).  Results? 15 points added to score.


East Macon:

Elaine Lucas – 85% (wow!) of people polled know who Elaine Lucas is.  A diehard council member (20+ years), she is viewed as vocal, a fighter for her beliefs, and very knowledgeable about the issues.  Though some felt that she is too outspoken and arrogant, these are simply personality quirks. No one has to wonder where this woman stands on the issues.  Result? 20 points added to score.


Lonnie Miley – 70% of East Macon residents know who Lonnie Miley is.  Described as dedicated, a hard worker, and concerned about the community, Miley should stay on City Council this time and effect change.  Result? 15 points added to score.



Ed Defore – A city council member for over 30 years, it wasn’t surprising to find that a whopping 90% of Bloomfield residents know Defore, many personally.  Nearly every resident questioned had good things to say about this man.  He returns phone calls; works hard for positive community growth; doesn’t back down from a fight; a good, decent man; the list goes on and on.  Kudos, Mr. Defore!  Result? 20 points added to score.


Mike Cranford – Not as well known as Defore (60%), nevertheless, those who could identify him said he is very smart, dedicated, and knowledgeable about the issues.  Given the chance, Cranford can and will work for positive change.  Result? 20 points added to score.


Bibb County Commissioners

Charlie Bishop – Countywide / Bibb County Commission Chair - 70% of those polled know who Bishop is and remarks were mixed.  Folks either love him and think he is doing a great job or they think he is the worst Chairman the Bibb County Commission ever had.  He was described as well-read and knowledgeable as well as paranoid and suspicious of everyone.  Result?  Let’s just leave his score as is and see what happens.


Elmo Richardson – North Bibb County – 65% of North Bibb County residents could name Richardson.  He is described as intelligent, well-read, and conservative.  Several people were still angry about a recent road project, describing him as uncaring and removed from the issue.  That fact, coupled with his recent blockage of annexation keeps his score the same.  Result? No points added to score.


Lonzy Edwards – About 65% of East Bibb Countians could name Edwards as their representative.  A vast majority of these describe Edwards as intelligent and knowledgeable on the issues, citing his integrity as a big plus (many felt secure with this preacher as their commissioner).  Result? 20 points added to score.


Bert Bivins – 70% of Unionville residents know who Bivins is and some had positive things to say.  However, many said that they were unable to get in touch with him; apparently, he doesn’t return phone calls.  I believe Bivins to be a good, solid commissioner, but he definitely needs to become more accessible to his voters.  Result? 10 points deducted from score.


Joe Allen – West Macon – 70% of residents polled know who Allen is.  A Bibb County fireman for years and the founder of Kids Yule Love, Allen has been active in his community for many years.  Though some said that Allen is a blowhard, his dedication is impossible to refute.  However, his blockage of annexation dealt Macon a severe blow.  Result? Only 5 points added to score.


Official Grade
Mayor Robert Reichert 70 + 5 = 75
City Council Members
City Council President
Miriam Paris
45 + 15 = 60
Tom Ellington 45 + 20 = 65

Virgil Watkins, Jr.

45 + 10 = 55
Nancy White 45 + 15 = 60
Elaine Lucas 53 + 20 = 73
Alveno Ross 53 + 10 = 63
Erick Erickson 45 + 15 = 60
Charles Jones 50 + 5 = 55
Larry Schlesinger 45 + 15 = 60
Lauren Benedict 45 + 15 = 60
Lonnie Miley 45 + 15 = 60
Ed DeFore 65 + 20 = 85
Rick Hutto 45 + 25 = 70
James Timley 73 + 3 = 70
J. Michael Cranford 45 + 20 = 65
Bibb County Commissioners  
Joe Allen 25 + 5 = 30
Bert Bivins 80 - 10 = 70
Lonzy Edwards 50 + 20 = 70
Elmo Richardson 50 - 25 = 25
Charlie Bishop 50




All of Macon’s elected officials must become more visible and involved, communicating directly with their constituents on the various issues.  The elected officials have a responsibility to work together for the good of all; they are placed in power by God.  “Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there.  All governments have been placed in power by God.”  Romans 13:1


If you are reading this and were one of the residents polled who couldn’t identify your city council members or county commissioner, you should now be able to name them the next time I call you up.  Ignorance is NOT bliss; knowledge is power.  Start attending Macon City Council and Bibb County Commission meetings so you can watch these people in action.  If you don’t know who you are voting for or against, maybe you shouldn’t vote at all. 


Any citizen desiring to read more of these editorials concerning political watch may do so at .


Citizens may read the minutes of all Macon City Council meetings at .

Bibb County Commission minutes can be found at .



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