Blakely mayoral candidates debate in political forum

Blakely mayoral candidates debate in political forum
The two candidates came together for a political forum to help the people make their decision. (Source: WTVY)

BLAKELY, Ga. (WALB) - The City of Blakely is less than two weeks away from a run-off election for mayor.

The two candidates came together for a political forum to help the people make their decision.

Less than five points separated incumbent Anthony Howard and challenger Travis Wimbush during the initial vote.

That forced a run-off, so the two candidates wanted to give voters one last chance to hear their sides before the run-off election in less than two weeks.

The Blakely GMC dealership moved the cars out of the way to make space for a room full of people.

People anxious to hear from the two mayoral candidates that have been neck and neck for months.

Anthony Howard has been the mayor of Blakely for 12 years and served as the county commission chairman before that.

Travis Wimbush, the challenger, works at Georgia Pacific and frequently voices his opinion at city council meetings.

"Discuss the internet service available to meet the business and consumer needs for the city of Blakely,” said Moderator Andy Hughes during the debate portion.

"Your leadership saw the opportunity to come in and put fiber throughout this town and light it up with internet service that is the envy of the state," said Howard.

"If I dissolve $600 of my $800 check on a utility bill, I may desire internet, but how likely am I to get it,” said Wimbush in response.

The candidates made speeches to open the forum, and then took questions that were entered on Facebook.

After that, they answered questions submitted by people in the audience.

One question was submitted more than once and remains a hot topic in Blakely over the past few years.

"What are your thoughts on the de-consolidation of the sheriff's office and Blakely Police Department and what would be your plans on the future of the Blakely Police Department,” asked Hughes.

"You don't hire all of the officers then hire the chief last. You hire the chief first that draws a vision for the department in which they oversee," said Wimbush.

"I have no regrets with what was done, and it is working well in my opinion and in the opinion of a lot of other people," said Howard in response.

One thing both candidates agreed on is that they were happy to see the turnout at the forum and hope it boosts voter turn-out.

The run-off election in Blakely will be on Dec. 3.

The mayor position will be the only one on the ballot.

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