Bibb County Commission Chair Sam Hart told The Telegraph's editorial board Monday evening that he has the broad appeal necessary to unite Macon and Bibb County when the two merge in January.
Hart was the sixth and final candidate for the new position of city-county mayor to undergo an hour of questioning, as the board considers which to endorse for the election scheduled July 16.
He had kind words for his frequent political ally and now competitor, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, but said he’s better equipped to heal the racial and political divides in the community.
"The person who gets in this position [has] got to be somebody who can reach across this community in terms of its diversity, to make sure that we get people on board," Hart told the board. "I think there are some good things [Reichert] has done, but I think if there’s one thing that distinguishes us, it would be the fact that I think I reach across both communities a little bit more than he does."
Hart, who was the most prominent African American politician to support consolidation, said the planned merger is already having a positive effect on the community. "The number of persons looking at our community as a possible place to come and develop their companies have [sic] doubled in the last six months," he said. "So we’ve got positive momentum and I think we ought to continue that."
Hart also promised unequivocally to serve only one term as city-county mayor if elected, saying he wants to provide continuity of leadership through the transition.
The editorial board interviewed mayoral candidates Joe Allen, Charlie Bishop, and David Cousino last Monday, and spoke with Robert Reichert and C. Jack Ellis the following evening.
GPB and The Telegraph will post the complete interviews online in the coming days.