MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – It’s a big election year, including local governments. Macon-Bibb County voters are getting ready to vote on a new mayor and commissioners. Currently, Valerie Wynn is the commissioner for district one and is looking to be re-elected. She says she will continue to fight for pay increases, and help the economy recover from the pandemic.
Check out her full interview:
Decision 2020: Meet Valerie Wynn, Macon-Bibb Commission Candidate for District 1
Candidate name: Valerie Wynn
Running for: District 1
Campaign Facebook: Valerie Wynn Commissioner District One
Q. What do you view as the best thing Macon-Bibb has to offer compared to the rest of Middle Georgia?
A. Well, we’ve got downtown for one thing. We’re growing downtown, we’re expanding and becoming a city where people will want to come to eat and go to different places to buy things. We’re going to be the center of the community and center of Middle Georgia. Pretty soon, people will want to come to see us do business with and enjoy themselves.
Q. What are the top priorities that you’ll need to address as a member of the commission, and what would be your plans to get your fellow commissioners to support your priorities?
A. Of course, my top issue for Middle Georgia is crime and our law enforcement. We need to hire more law enforcement officials. If they can hire more officers, than they can be proactive instead of reactive. In other words, going out ahead of time and patrolling instead of having to react to a crime that’s already been committed. This is the second thing that’s important to our community is blight. The community has told us that through the meetings we’ve had, On The Table meetings, they’ve told us crime is number one, blight is number two, education is there, so we want to listen to the community and do what they want us to do. How do I get my fellow commissioners to do that? We have to agree, what’s good for the community as a hole should be what we focus on. Those issues are something we can come together on.
Q. You mentioned blight, and that it ranks number two with community concerns, but where do you rank blight among the county’s priorities?
A. It’s number two on mine too. If you go around Macon, you have commercial blight not just residential, but if you go around Macon you’ll see some horrible conditions and some homes that just cannot be rehabilitated — they need to be tore down. When you have blight, you have crime coming into that area. Number one, number two.
Q. What needs to be done to support the sheriff’s office and the community’s concerns about crime? I know you’ve been an advocate for this topic. What else needs to be done?
A. Besides hiring new officers? That’s the main thing so they can be proactive instead of reactive. We need to make a payscale that’s good for our officers, so we can attract good candidates to Macon-Bibb County to work for us and stay with us, too.
Q. What would you do to make sure the commission is an effective legislative body?
A. I don’t know if you mean right now while we’re going through such a tough time and having to do our meetings by Zoom and can’t have meetings in person. To be a strong legislative body we need to pull together. As a commission we need to agree on things. When we agree on things we can go to our state legislatures and say this is what we need for Macon-Bibb. So we need to work as a commission that works together.
Q. You mentioned more officers – what about programs? I know the D.A’s office has worked to bring after school programs and programs for troubled teens? Do we need more of those to combat crime?
A. I think we’re working on some of those right now. The D.A’s office has got a lot of those good things. I think we need to continue with those and grow with those. You don’t need to keep young people in prison or in jail for something that was minor thing. We need to get them back out in society and be a functioning member of society. If we can get more programs like that then I’m all for it. It frees up our jails too.
Q. Right now, we’re going through a strange time. How can Macon-Bibb bounce back economically when this is all said and done?
A. It’s going to be tough. We’re going to have some expenses that come through. The federal government has plans out there to give the local governments and state governments some funding but we have to make sure we document what funding we need. What I see we’re going to have is with the human resources end of it, the employees end of it. How much is it going to cost us? Are there going to be costs? We’re not sure right now, so that’s what we have to be aware of. Financially, we’ve been doing good, but I think we’re going to take a hit financially on some things we’re going to have to pay for going forward.
Q. Are you worried about downtown? Commission has worked hard to help downtown grow into a viable, bustling area, so now with restaurants and business closed due to COVID, they’re being hurt.
A. That is a concern, but I think once we get further along with this, and who knows how long the coronavirus with us, it maybe with us forever. You will have your businesses that reopen, and restaurants, because I know the governor has said you can, he did not dictate they had to, nor do we have to patronize them. I think when the right time comes and the COVID virus is down, we can tell that and people are out able to socialize better. I think you’ll find these restaurants picking back up and doing what they were doing before this all started.
Q. You’ve mentioned a pay increase. You’ve been a part of the pay scale review getting started, but can we afford that now with talks of potential hazard pay? Has your stance changed?
A. The pay scale and hazard pay are two things that are coming out at the same time. Pay scale study we’ve already put out. We’ve gotten a report back and I understand that we’re going to be hearing about that in the next week or two so we’ll be talking about the pay scale study. It won’t be effective until later in the year, if not until the beginning of next year, 2021. We’ll still have a payscale we can go by as to know what we can pay people the job is worth and so I think that’s very important. As far as hazardous pay, we’ll have to discuss that because the issue there is who’s going to get it? Who should get it? How long should they get it? We have to look at that. Paying for both, I don’t think we should do that. We have this payscale study done, we just need to get the report, and see what to do with it and vote on it.