partlycloudy
Wednesday May 6th, 2015 2:43PM

Macon state's only city with partisan primaries

By The Associated Press
MACON - When Macon holds its primary elections in July, it will be the only municipality in Georgia doing so for city elections.

Of Georgia's 534 municipalities, only Macon holds partisan city elections, according to the Georgia Secretary of State's office, which oversees elections.

The news had politicians and political observers alike shocked.

"That doesn't sound right," said Macon City Councilman James Timley, who said he was nearly certain that Atlanta or Savannah held partisan elections. Neither does, according to the Secretary of State and clerk offices in both cities.

Macon is "on an island by ourselves," said state Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon.

Critics say the result is greater election costs _ an extra $35,000 or so for a primary election, plus roughly that same cost again if there's a primary runoff.

Across the state, most county commissions have partisan elections _ in which candidates qualify and run under a party banner _ but not cities.

Some political leaders say the situation is unlikely to change in middle Georgia's largest city.

Macon's delegation in the state Legislature would have to change city election rules, which would be unlikely to move forward without a vote from the Macon City Council.

Macon's entire legislative delegation also would have to agree.

"I'm not going to be one to vote against it," state Rep. David Lucas, D-Macon, said of the current system. "Nothing wrong with partisan elections."

Lucas asserts that "nonpartisan elections have never been anything but a Republican scheme to get more Republicans elected."

On that, Lucas is "not far from being correct," said Mike Digby, who grew up in Macon and now is chairman of the government department at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville.

Nonpartisan elections largely evolved from a progressive movement at the start of the 20th century. And it just so happens, Digby said, that the advocates of that system were often Republicans who found that their own partisan interests dovetailed with the new strategy "nicely."

Still, some Macon leaders hold to the old political catchphrase _ there's no Republican or Democratic way to pick up garbage or fill potholes.

Mayor Jack Ellis, who is term-limited and steps down at the end of this year, leaned on that one last week and said Macon's partisan practice should end.

"I think it's a waste of time and money, really," Ellis said. "I don't know why we are still holding onto them when everybody else has changed."
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge in courthouse shooting case refuses to step down
The judge presiding over the murder trial of a man accused in a deadly 2005 shooting spree that began in a courtroom refused Monday to step down from the case.
10:52PM ( 7 years ago )
Cornelia brings in 2008 with the 4th Annual Apple Drop
Cornelia knows how to have a good time on New Year
10:49PM ( 7 years ago )
Woman Who Tried to Kill Ford Freed
Sara Jane Moore, who took a shot at President Ford in a bizarre assassination attempt just 17 days after a disciple of Charles Manson tried to kill Ford, was paroled Monday after 32 years behind bars.
5:55PM ( 7 years ago )
Local/State News
Ride-hailing regulation bill gets Gov.'s signature
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, which connect riders with drivers by means of a smartphone app, will soon have to comply with some Georgia regulations under legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.
By Associated Press
2:37PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Former House Speaker Jim Wright dies at age 92
DALLAS (AP) — Former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, the longtime Texas Democrat who became the first House speaker in history to be driven out of office in midterm, has died at age 92.The World War II...
2:10PM ( 33 minutes ago )
Brush fires along I-85 in Gwinnett Co. cause problems for motorists, one lane open
The inside lane of I-85 Southbound has reopened, but firefighters remain on the scene of a number of brush fires along the the corridor in north Gwinnett County.
1:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
Governor lifts state of emergency for Baltimore
BALTIMORE (AP) — The mayor called on federal investigators Wednesday to look into whether this city's beleaguered police department uses a pattern of excessive force or discriminatory policing.Mayor S...
12:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Fire destroys Jackson Co. home
A Jackson County family lost everything in a house fire Tuesday afternoon, according to EMS Director Steve Nichols.
11:59AM ( 2 hours ago )