MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon-Bibb will soon have many new faces representing its districts.
June 9 is the new Election Day, and local government races are included.
Paul Bronson is a candidate for District 2. He says he plans on making your street more neighborhood friendly.
Decision 2020: Meet Paul Bronson, Macon-Bibb Commission Candidate for District 2
Candidate name: Paul Bronson
Running for: District 2
Occupation: U.S Army/ Reserves/ Verizon Wireless
Campaign Facebook: Paul Bronson for Macon-Bibb County Commissioner, District 2
Campaign Website: www.paulbronson.com
Q. Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Bronson. You are running for District 2, so let’s dive into it. What do you feel Macon-Bibb has to offer that the rest of Middle Georgia doesn’t?
A. Well, for one, as you already know with Macon-Bibb being centrally located in the state of Georgia, right? We are right there at 16 and 75. We’re in a unique position. We basically have people that’s coming up from Savannah, coming down from Atlanta. I think it’s very important that, for us, that we key in to the attractions that we have, that we key in to the different groups of personnel that we have and different cultures and so forth, and basically harness that to where people can take this Macon location and make it a tourist attraction where everyone would say, “Hey, we got to come to Macon, Georgia and see what’s going on.” So, we’re in a unique position.
Q. What are some of your priorities that you hope to push through commission? How will you get your fellow commissioners to kind of back your ideas?
A. I think the main thing here is just being transparent. Being honest, being transparent, and being fair. That’s the key thing here is being fair. It’s all about what can we do to better serve our citizens as a whole and put aside our own self agendas, our own agendas, and say, “What can we do to ensure that Macon reaches at number one city for the state of Georgia?” So for me, it’s about being transparent, and not just being transparent with the commissioners but being transparent with the citizens.
Q. What would you say are your top two priorities to kind of push? Is it crime? Is it blight? What are your priorities?
A. So, of course everyone’s primary deal is blight. So for us, as you already know, District 2 is broken down into four different areas, right? We have a very unique district. So when you start talking about issues that lie in East Macon, South Macon, North Macon, and then downtown, all of those are different but yet and still it affects one another.So blight, from what I’ve heard across the board, has been the number one deal. So, my goal and my plan is what is called a 3×4 plan. that 3×4 plan basically is that every three months we’re going to tackle four houses in our district. Now if we get all the other commissioners on board, right, each district would knock out a number of roughly 12 houses, whether or not it’s remodeling, knocking them down or creating green space.So, that’s the first thing that I would look to tackle. The second thing will be dealing with the course crime, which really intertwines with poverty. So, what does that look like? That looks like job growth, that looks like we’re putting heavy, working to bringing in new jobs, infrastructure, and so forth that can tackle that piece of it. The underlying scope for poverty that will overall will help us out with the crime to include increasing our police force, giving them the tools and resources that they need to be effective and efficient. Not saying that they are, but there are ways that we as a community can support our police department and our department and public safety personnel overall to ensure that everyone is safe.
Q. To touch on your blight initiative, where would funding come from that?
A. So, funding from that, as you already know, is pretty much chopped up per quarter. That’s one of those things where we have to basically look into what grants are out there? There are some grants in different cities that I’ve had a chance to visit, from Washington D.C. to Denver to down in different areas in Florida where they have grants that are allotted, that a lot of my, I’m sorry, an allotted amount of funds that will come in and take care of that. The other thing that I would love to see done in regards to blight, granted is not necessarily they want funding, it’s how do we go about ensuring that the people that own the houses are properly fined for that? Right? Then the other initiative that we will look into doing, speaking with the pastors in the areas is saying, “Hey, for the churches we can lower the taxes that are owed on that,” or the price tag that’s associated with that vacant house and say we can give these to the churches. The churches then can turn back around and say, “Well, we’re going to create a tech center, we’re going to create a halfway house, or a transitional home.” Those are ways that we can go about getting the lot’s taken care of and it’s not really costing the taxpayer that amount, a large sum of money to get these things knocked out. So, those are some of the initiatives that I would love to see done to get blight taken care of. Now for the first responders and the sheriff’s office that you just mentioned, as you know, the commissioners currently have been pushing for that pay scale study, that’s already been done, to hopefully give everyone in the county pay raises next fiscal year. What is your stance on that, and can we afford it? So, this is thing, right? So, it’s going to take a holistic approach. It’s a holistic approach. So if we focus our attention, just kind of shift gears for a second, let’s say for instance we have tourism. We already know that funding is done by foot traffic, right? The more foot traffic you have coming through a city, the more money you have flowing through a city, which means guess what? Now we can have the funds that we need to fund the projects that we have on the back end. So, if that means getting more police stations, if that means hire more police officers or fire department, I’m sorry, fire officials and so forth, then we have that. So, the primary hit in that arena is going about figuring out ways to get people to want to stop and make it, putting it on the bucket list. Macon should be a primary top five in the bucket list of places that people need to come and see.I think that once we get that, right, once we get that piece of it and we get the buy-in from the citizens to say, “Okay, we all have a responsibility, we all have a piece of this puzzle, and we all matter in this piece,” then I think those two things, when they come together, you will see the foot traffic increase, you’ll see the crime decrease, you’ll see beautification projects happening throughout, which now, right? Which now, you drive that foot traffic in, you drive that money in. From there we can say, “Hey, let’s start taking care of our police officer. Let’s start getting the funding. Now, we have the funding that we need.” Not just that, right? We needs to be efficient, I’m sorry, efficient and effective in the way we spend our money. We should not be going over what we have. We need to find ways to minimize what we spend, what we’re spending, and then that way we’ll have money saved in the buckets. So where if situations happen, like we’re having right now with the COVID-19, we still have that funding in place to support our community, our citizens, and our city.
Q. So as we get ready for this budget talk, commissioners and the mayor are concerned with, because of the pandemic, we have seen a major decrease in hotel, motel taxes, sales tax because no one’s traveling right now. No one’s out and about, no one’s doing first Fridays, no Cherry Blossom. We’re seeing a big hit that we might have to revisit the budget again in January to reevaluate things. So with that being said, how can you make sure that we pull out of this pandemic on top economically?
A. Economically? So, that will be more so a new norm. Better understanding what the situation that we have in hand now and planning for that. Now granted, it means not being in office right now, and I think the guys that are working hard to figure out things now, for any candidate my biggest push has been, what’s the next step? We should be planning for the next step. Not just planning for the next step, but planning for the step after that because it’s going to come back around. We already know the scientists have already said that this is going to come back later on and it’s going to be a whole lot worse than it is. So, how do we pre-plan? How do we pregame all that’s about to happen? So as a commissioner, I would ensure that those things are brought to the forefront and that we start planning for that. In regards to the budget and so forth, that’s going to be one of those conversations that I would have to have once in office and I can get an idea, get a clearer view on what we’re actually dealing with. I don’t want to give a broken promise. That’s not my intent. That’s not my goal here, but I do want citizens to know that upon election you will have a leader that’s going to be transparent, that’s going to bring forth a bold new view, roll a bold new vision for the city, and we’re going to move our city forward.
Q. A big one, I know we touched upon it a little bit, is crime. So, how can we make sure we address not only the sheriff’s office that you mentioned, but the citizens, the communities, the neighborhoods’ concerns on crime in their area?
A. So in their area, right? So now, we’re getting to the ramifications. Now we’re getting into the deal of, for me, right, I’m a big believer as a military personnel. I’m a major in the United States Army, and one of the main things that we try to hit on with our soldiers, as me coming as a soldier, was having check marks, or checkpoints. Then those checkpoints, we’re saying, “Hey, citizens, this is what you’ve given us to tackle. These are the concerns that you have placed on our table. What we’re going to do now is we’re going to send out a notification of, ‘These are the three things that we’re going to hit on,'” right? “These are our three things we want to tackle.” Every six months a citizen will get a letter that states, or email or phone call, what it may be, to show that these are the things that you want us to do, that you needed us to do, and we’re taking care of those things. I think in that in itself, right, it shows a true bearing of transparency, trust, and earning, right? Earning that position as a commissioner and, at the same time, providing safety and oversight for our citizens. I was reading a book recently, it’s called Eat or Sleep. I’m sorry, Leaders Eat Last. At the first part of that book, it basically states overview, right? Overprotection, and it goes into a SEAL team that’s going out to get a high value target. The primary thing is the protection from above. I’m sorry, protection from above, and the primary thing is the soldiers on the ground can look up and see their team members up top, right, in the helicopter and airplane. It gives a sense of security, it gives a sense of confidence that I can go out and do my task. At the same time, for those that are above looking down as commissioners, as a mayor, it gives a sense of knowing that if you need us, we got you. I think we need to reestablish that whole viewpoint from protection up above. It is our job as commissioners, it’s our job as the mayor to ensure that citizens feel safe in their neighborhoods, that they feel safe to venture off and start a new business, that they feel safe living in their homes or buying a home. So for me as a commissioner, I would ensure that that’s established in that way.