DECISION 2020: Meet George Thomas, Macon-Bibb Commissioner candidate for District 4
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – It’s election season, which includes Macon-Bibb voters electing commissioners.
41NBC News is introducing you to commissioner candidates for your district.
Decision 2020: Meet George Thomas, Macon-Bibb Commission Candidate for District 4
Candidate name: George Thomas
Running for: District 4
Occupation: Office and Leading Manager at Newtown Macon
Campaign Facebook: George Thomas for District 4 County Commissioner
Q. What do you view as some of Macon’s best attributes that people come here to visit us for versus anywhere else in central Georgia?
A. Well, one thing that we have above anywhere else in central Georgia is our historic downtown. You look at places like Warner Robins don’t even have a downtown. Compared to Perry. All the other municipalities. Forsyth and whatnot. Our downtown really has a lot to offer. Me, as to be a leasing manager for a few lofts downtown, we get a lot of people from everywhere. All across. That’s a lot due to the hospital and certain things. Mercer brings in a lot of people. From all around California, all around the United States coming to Macon. It’s really a nice city. I’ve always been a advocate. Even all through school, everybody would ask me, “Where are you from? Macon?” I’m like, “Yeah. I’m from Macon. Don’t forget it either.” It’s my hometown. Pride and joy.
Q. If you’re elected, you’re coming into quite a challenge with trying to recover the economy from the pandemic. What are you planning to do to kind of help get us out of the hole and get us prospering like we were pre-COVID?
A. It’s going to take some time. What we have to do as elected officials, we need to be able to put out guidelines on how we can reopen. A lot of those things are going to what the CDC has put out mandating face masks in our businesses and whatnot. That should be a norm. Get used to even going to a restaurant, when the dine-ins open up, still having your waiter having face masks on, and potentially probably getting your temperature taken and all that good stuff. People look to elected officials for advice and what they should do. You just follow what the CDC says and just go from there. It’s your new norm.
Q. I know commission’s talking about right now, with budget talks, they’re going to start that process now. You new guys will have to probably revisit it in January. Do you have any idea where budget cuts may have to go depending on how this goes? What are you foreseeing economically?
A. Well, it’s such a strenuous time right now. It’s going to be interesting to see what areas would need more help than others. But only time will tell how the economy will recover.
Q. What are some items that you hope to pass through commission? What do you feel strongly about? How can you get your fellow commissioners on board with your ideas?
A. One thing that I would like to do, in my district per say, we definitely need more sidewalks and bike lanes and what not. It’s high pedestrian traffic areas when it comes to walking. When you say where my neighborhood is right off of Thomaston Road, right there it’s a narrow street. Very narrow. But it’s a lot of walkers. You see people riding bikes apartments close. They walk to the closest convenience store. You can see where the grass is gone from the dirt. You got a dirt sidewalk where you know a lot of people walking. It’s only going to get worse because the Publix is coming in that district. We need safety for pedestrians or whatnot. A few things that we need, besides that, I think it’s important that we know where our money is being spent as taxpayers. We need that accountability and transparency in our government. What I would like to do is definitely we need to lower our property tax. The things I will look in to do that is to go ahead and try to get the OLOST tax and whatnot. We raise the sales tax from 7% to 8% and whatnot. That way you can roll the property tax back. This is how district four is set up. It runs all the way to Monroe County line, Thomaston Road. Well, Zebulon Road and Forsyth Road. It meets Monroe County. You can go right across that county line and pay significantly lower millage rate for the same size house. Then, with that OLOST, will that help fill the gap for what we’re going to be seeing now with COVID during April and most of May? Because we have to find that money somewhere to kind of recover from that.
Q. It’s going to be busy over there. With that, with budget talks, money talks right now being said, can we afford these pay raises for county employees, first responders across the board? Are you on board with that?
A. Yeah. We got to. It’s just that it’s needed. It’s definitely needed. It’s past due. Then, when you look at things like the Sheriff’s Department, it’s not attractive. It’s not attractive salary for the position. You lose out on good people to surrounding counties. You’re going to have to.
Q. What are other ways that the government and community can support the Sheriff’s effort in reducing crime and then also addressing, I guess I should say, community residents concerned with crime as well?
A. Well, neighborhood watches are always a good thing. Being vigilant. Looking out for your neighbor. Or reporting things when you see them that look suspicious. That helps the Sheriff’s Department. As far as the shortage in the Sheriff’s department, besides the obvious raising the salaries for the sheriffs, I would be fond of either a housing allowance. Not to the military, a few extra hundred dollars that go towards housing or tax incentives to buy homes for a sheriff. To make it an attractive position. That way you can recruit the best.
Q. It seems as though crime and blight go hand in hand. What’s your stance on the blight to kind of combat that issue?
A. Well, the best way, traditionally speaking, when you look around the United States, they have blight problems. Focus on one area. That way, when you build that area up, then the public perception, you can see, “Oh okay. They’re tackling blight. You can see how this area is. Then I can’t wait until you get to my area.” When you do a lot, and you try to do a little here, a little there, you don’t see the same affect. In my district, blight is not that bad of a problem. But in Macon, having one of the nine votes, we definitely, I think we need to concentrate on certain areas to attack blight.
Q. What are you going to do to make sure that commission is an effective legislative body and a productive legislative body?
A. Well, I have a lot of experience with reaching across the table and working and getting along and being productive with people that might not agree with the same thing I might agree with. Have two different walks of life. Always being able to find that common ground. That’s what we need in Macon. A bridge builder and someone that can reach across the aisle and make it work seamlessly. It’s so much bickering all the time and you can’t agree on this and that. You can’t get anything done if you just always fighting. Macon works better when we work together. As long as I’m, when I’m elected commissioner, as we work together making it work.
Q. Is there anything else that your constituents of district four need to know before heading to the polls in June?
A. Well, they need to know that the absentee ballot application has been mailed out to every registered voter. Only thing they have to do is fill it out, choose a republican, nonpartisan ballot, or democratic. Put it in the mail. I know certain elections will be on certain ballots. Early voting begins on May 18th and ends June 5th. It’ll be one Saturday to vote. The election date is June 9th. If you ride through my district you’ll see a few of my signs. Just to know a lot more about me, you can go to my website. Macontimeforachange.com. I got a Facebook page. Facebook.com/macontimeforachange. That’s what I’m running on it. Just making this time for a change. Definitely, we need some new ideas, new blood, a new face. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Definition of insanity. It’s just time for… we on the cusp of great things in this town. Keep moving forward.