MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Over hot pizza, the Macon-Bibb mayoral candidates discussed crime, education and jobs on Wednesday evening.
The six candidates current Macon mayor Robert Reichert, former Macon mayor C.J. Ellis, commissioner Joe Allen, former commission chairman Charlie Bishop, businessman David Cousino and commission chair Sam Hart sounded off on everything from budget cuts to backing local law enforcement.
Mercer law students submitted questions prior to event and were able to hear responses at the debate at Mercer Law on Wednesday evening. About 30 students, faculty and supporters came out to hear from the mayoral hopefuls. Student Lucas Cowan wanted to hear more about jobs.
"I'm all about jobs right now," Lucas said, "and I feel like our economy is some what struggling and not just in Macon but all through the country."
When it came to dealing with jobs, the candidates seemed to agree that there is a need for a more; the debate came down to how that can be achieved.
During the forum, Ellis discussed focusing on Macon impoverished. "We've created jobs, but we also have problems," Ellis said, "we have urban unemployment."
As for Cusino, he wants to make Macon a "river city". "We need our city to be back as a river city," he said, "we need to have high speed rails coming here."
Hart's focus was educating in order to attract big business. "We have a 50% dropout rate," Hart said, "and a lot of kids are falling through the cracks."
Reichert promised to continue working with the industrial and development authorities to attract more work. "We really need a skilled workforce,"
Allen urges all the departments to work together to benefit the community. "It's time to find different ways to make things work," Allen said.
For those who missed Wednesday's forum, another one is scheduled on Saturday, September 7
at noon New Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church. Election day is September 17.