Voters in Warner Robins will go to the polls Tuesday to pick a new mayor, or at least narrow the field of six candidates down to two.
With no incumbent in the race, “there is no front-runner,” said Telegraph Houston County bureau reporter Christina M. Wright.
Mike Brashear, Chuck Chalk, Eva Folse, Daron Lee, Joe Musselwhite and Randy Toms are all in the hunt, she said.
Current Mayor Chuck Shaheen opted not to seek reelection after one term, deciding instead to seek a city council seat. His tenure has been marred by an often ugly relationship with city council members, whom Shaheen omplained were trying to hamper his authority as mayor.
“One of the big, big issues [in this election] is how this next mayor is going to work with council and prevent some of these large blowups that have happened over the last few years,” Wright said.
Shaheen himself has not been a force in the current mayoral race, having declined to endorse a possible successor. “He has pretty much taken a backseat,” Wright said.
At a recent candidate forum organized by The Telegraph, candidates were asked: what's the top issue affecting the city not having to do with Robins Air Force Base?
All six cited a rising crime rate, though other issues have been at play, Wright said, including public transportation. City officials have been contemplating bringing bus service to the highly suburban and automobile-centric city.
“Chuck Chalk, Mike Brashear and Randy Toms have all said that they want to look at paratransit first,” Wright said. Daron Lee is the only candidate who has wholeheartedly embraced mass transit as a priority, “because it would encourage business to come settle here, knowing that their lower wage employees could make it back and forth without having to have a car,” she said.
Eva Folse and Joe Musselwhite, in contrast, oppose public transit entirely on the grounds of cost.