Warner Robins Mayoral Candidates Talk Police, Communication | News
Six candidates want to be Warner Robins next mayor.
Five took part in a forum Wednesday.
It was hosted by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association at the Wellston Center.
Each candidate answered a question about how to recruit, retain and strengthen the city's police force.
Here's a portion of how they responded.
Retired city Public Works Director Joe Musselwhite said, "Part of the problem is systematic. There was a pay study done a couple of years ago, that was implemented. I've got reason to believe it wasn't done properly, because we're still adjusting it as recently as a couple of council meetings ago. We've got to get these officers trained, put in place, on the job and on the streets. We've got to encourage these people to stay with us until they retire here."
Current City Council member, pastor and educator Daron Lee said, "One thing I do believe we can implement is some type of incentive program in regard to becoming a policeman here in Warner Robins, Georgia. In regard to increasing and being more visible in the community, I think community policing would be a major move."
Retired educator Eva Folse said, "I believe we need a couple of satellite places. We can't just respond from the LEC, over here by the base. It's impossible. Our community is not compact. It's spread out, so we really do need something like that, some satellite offices."
Retired city fire fighter, bailiff and chaplain, Randy Toms said, "Nobody becomes a police officer or a fire fighter or a city employee for that matter, thinking we're going to get rich doing it. We know we're not going to make a lot of money, but we've always had good benefits. They're starting to erode. We've got to find a way to increase the morale of our city workers. I'm the person that can get that done, because I understand what they need."
Mike Brashear, a retired aerospace worker, retired from the council to run for the mayor's office. He said, "In my conversations with the chief, the chief said what he needs is an incentive package to be able to offer incentives to these young candidates coming in, that would entice them to want to come to work for the city, stay with the city and retire with the city. We train our officers extremely well."
The five candidates called communication at city hall an area that needs improvement.
They each talked about how they would improve it and obstacles that stood in the way in the past.
Here's part of the answer that each one gave.
Brashear said, "If there is any candidate trying to run for a city office talking about the power of that office, I would strongly encourage each and every one of you to vote against that candidate. This position is not one of power. It's one of service. I hope you would consider me to be your next mayor in November."
Folse said, "You don't hold, I don't like secret meetings, it's kind of been referred to, that when working with certain council people and not. And when you don't have the city attorney in the loop. The city attorney is not informed about everything that's going on, that's bad."
Lee said, "One thing we have improved on is communication, and that has been a major barrier within the council. What I would bring as mayor of the City of Warner Robins is a strong communication chain, communicating in the beginning with council, as well as giving council the window to communicate with me."
Musselwhite said, "I always get along with every council person, every citizen that's possible, every city employee. As I said in my opening statement, I will be transparent and accountable for what we do. Nobody will spend any money if we don't know what it's for. If it doesn't pass the smell test, it will not be on the agenda under my mayoralship."
Toms said, "Communication in my line of work for the last 27 years, if you don't communicate, people die. In my opinion, if the city government doesn't communicate with each other and doesn't communicate with the department heads, and doesn't communicate with the employees, and doesn't communicate with the citizens, then the city dies."
The sixth candidate, Robins Air Force Base employee Chuck Chalk, said he planned to attend the forum, but Tuesday, his son's military deployment was moved up. Chalk said he was in Atlanta for his son's send-off, and tried to get back for the forum, but was too late.
Early voting for the mayor's race and four council seats starts next Tuesday, October 15th.
Election day is Tuesday, November 5th.