MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – It was show time at Macon City Hall Wednesday night as community members and city leaders came out to watch candidates for Bibb County Commission go head-to-head in some of the first debates of the race.
The Bibb County Democtratic Party hosted the forum at Macon City Hall, District 7 candidates Eric Arnold and Barry Bell discussed population and downtown revitalization. Arnold, a software developer, stated that he is in favor of a face-lift in downtown Macon and Bell, a business owner, put an emphasis on making a change.
"We want to create better citizens, not bigger jails," Bell said.
District 8 candidates Regina Davis and Virgil Watkins discussed how their strengths will benefit the community. Watkins, who is currently serving on Macon City Council, stated that his longevity in city government showed his commitment to Macon.
"I'm still relatively young," Watkins said, "but with my 10 years of service, I bring experience to the new government."
Davis described herself as a Macon native and a real estate broker.
"I have a genuine concern for Macon and I am persistent," she said.
But it was the District 9 race that seemed to be the prime-time battle of the debates. Community activist Al Tillman and Macon City Council member James Timley differed on almost everything including consolidation and increasing the city's population.
At one point during the debate, Timley stated that he "does not have a criminal record and obviously, Tillman doesn't have a clue." During his closing arguments, Tillman referred to Timley saying "if you need someone to win a best dressed contest, you can vote for my opponent."
"Mr. Timley has continued to oppose many things in this community," Tillman said, "and we want to look forward to bringing this community together. He's opposed so many things in this community that I just don't think he can oppose anything else, the only thing he can oppose now is me."
In response to Tillman's "best dressed" statement, Timley admitted to being a "snazzy dresser" but stands by his statement that "Tillman doesn't have a clue".
"I don't think he had command of the facts, obviously," Timley said, "he misquoted a lot of facts."
On Thursday, Bibb County candidates will face off in a series of forums and debates.
At 8:30 a.m. the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce will host a mayoral candidate forum at the Douglass Theatre. The League of Women voters is hosting a mayoral candidates forum at 6 p.m. at the Macon City Auditorium. Also at 6 p.m., the NAACP is hosting a forum between Bibb County Commissioner candidates for Districts 1 through 5 at Macon City Hall.