Decision 2020: Meet Carlton Kitchens, candidate for Macon-Bibb Commissioner Dist. 5
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – As Election Day inches closer for Georgia voters, 41NBC is introducing you to Macon-Bibb’s commissioner candidates.
Decision 2020: Meet Carlton Kitchens, Macon-Bibb Commission Candidate for District 5
Candidate name: Carlton Kitchens
Running for: District 5
Occupation: Small business owner
Campaign Facebook: Carlton Kitchens
Q. What are your plans for District 5, for Macon-Bibb in general, and how do you plan on getting your fellow commissioners on board?
A. Well, first of all, let me introduce myself to the community. Most people know who I am, and some people don’t know who I am. I am Carlton Kitchens, running to seek the Office of District 5. I am a lifelong resident here. I’ve been here a long time, about 50-something years, and I’m happy, former graduate of Southwest High School. I’ve been in the community, active here for a long time, as well as a family man with three beautiful children, and now an entrepreneur. You’re asking me where I plan on taking District Five? Through riding through the communities of District 5, I’ve already toured District 5, and I’ve seen some things that I’m very displeased with, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and put action besides talking about what we gone do in District 5. Or to bridge the gap, to making it as a strong community. We got a lot of things that are going on in District 5. Trying to combat a lot of the crime rate that we have. Right now, we’re in our fifth month, and I’m sad to say that we have an almost say about 20… I’ll say 22 murderers, and some of those are tied in with suicide rates, or whatever that, what you want to say. But to try to combat a lot of that crime rate, right now in District 5, the community, the Unionville area is really one of the high crime rates that has higher crime in District 5. So, if we can kind of bring that to a closure, or somewhat suppress that a little bit, we will be doing good with the murder rates that we’re having. To work with law enforcement. If we could just add more deputies to our Sheriff’s department. That, and get them a great pay rate, increase their pay, because right now you’ll have most officers that will sort of kind of control, or patrol those areas that will deal with those high crime rates right now.
Q. What would be one of the main ways you support the Sheriff’s office in making sure we can address crime issues, and the citizens’ concerns with crime as well?
A. What we got to do, like I said, we’ve got to create jobs. We’ve got to come up with interventive programs to get jobs. Right now with the pandemic that’s going on, people don’t have means right now to take care of their families, and their subject to do … they are depressed right now. They got to make ends meet. Some of them are waiting on the stimulus checks, what have you to make ends meet. So right now we can just try to come up with ways to creating jobs for them that’ll give them some kind of incentive as well, because right now they don’t have jobs. They don’t have anything to reach out for, you know, that kind of thing. And a big discussion kind of going into that is commissioners now have really been pushing for pay increases for first responders and county employees across the board in order to retain first responders, and the Sheriff’s office that you’ve been mentioning.
Q. Do we have room in the budget right now, especially with the pandemic and trying to recover from that, do we have room in the budget to afford pay raises across the board?
A. Well, listening to Mayor Reichert’s proposal for the budget, I’m sure that there have been things that the federal government have handed down to assist in funding. So we really got to look out for our first responders, our nurses, our firefighters, as well as our Sheriff’s department. We got to find ways, and I’m sure that I was hearing that and I’m not … I got to get more research on it. Macon, right now, is wanting to see that get done, and impose hazard pay. You see what I’m saying? So we can find ways. I’m sure that they could find ways to put money in those kinds of budgets, or move some things around that would increase, you know, find ways of giving them incentive. That’s what I’m sure Mayor Reichert will be working on that, or the commissioner should be voting on that as well.
Q. What’s your stance on blight? I know District 5 has a lot of residential and commercial blight, so how do you plan on combating that issue?
A. Well, blight is a tough issue that we really need to work with the tax assessor office to find those areas, those people that own those properties, what we can say and do, and just try to see who owns those different properties in those areas. Take Pleasant Hill or Unionville for instance. We’re talking about those impoverished type of areas that, you know, like people think there are nice houses for the property taxes, it makes, the value of those property taxes goes down when you can’t find people that own those blighted areas. So what we can do is work with the tax assessor office and find those property owners and get them a ladder out, and see what-not we can tear those house down, and get them off the market, and sell them out if we can. Because we got a lot of blight, not just on the blight houses, we got blight buildings and this is an eyesore in different areas of our communities. That’s what … You know, I don’t like to see that, but it’s just an eyesore.
Q. If elected, the new commissioners are going to be walking into a big cleanup effort economically because of the pandemic. We’ve lost hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars just from these couple months. I know Cherry Blossom, and other events that we usually hold, that we are no longer because of the pandemic. How do you plan on making sure we pull out of this situation on top and recover economically?
A. We’ve got to find innovative ways of trying to make our community … Like you’re saying the Cherry Blossom, those are the things that bring tours to our communities and small businesses and stuff like that to increase their income as well. So what we’re trying to estimate, if I was elected as commissioner, I would try to find ways of bringing different industries in here to bring better jobs in our community to stimulate our community back, economical growth back. Well, we can get a smooth scale and get things back in the role in that it can help our communities, and we can put money in different areas that can upgrade back to our community, get people back into normalcy, safety for our seniors and our youth. That’s one of the things that we got to put in different programs for them to have jobs, and that kind of thing. So my thing is, if elected, my focus is about our young people, as well as bringing industries in here to create jobs for our senior citizens, as well as our citizens at that time.
Q. District 5 is home to the music legend Little Richard. With his recent passing, how are you going to make sure that commissioners memorialize, get something memorialized for him in your district, in Pleasant Hill?
A. Well, they, it took a while for them to recognize him, and they finally did that. Little Richard Penniman got a lot going on. He put America on the map as one of the frontiers of our community. So I think you got to pay homage to him. They are checking his body … I’m sure I was seeing that they were going to bury him in Huntsville, but when you have legends like a Little Richard Penniman, that puts Macon and middle Georgia, right in the heart of Pleasant Hill in District 5, we should do something. Not just have a Little Richard House, but we should … We have a statue for Otis Redding down to the Phillips Street Bridge down there. We got to put something. Bring up another statue, right in Pleasant Hill. That’s where he came from. I see a little house that said Little Richard. Right in that little square there, we can put a little statue that says Little Richard Penniman. We got to do something for those people that put our city of Macon-Bibb on the map, have put them on the map rather.
Q. What makes Macon-Bibb so special and stand-out versus the rest of middle Georgia?
A. What makes Macon and middle Georgia stand out, are the great citizens of Macon and middle Georgia. That’s what makes us stand out. In a crisis we roll up our sleeves. We work together. We care about each other. That’s what makes Macon come together as a great city to unify.