Macon-Bibb board votes again, approves District 1 seat May special election
MACON, Ga. -- In a special meeting Friday morning, the Macon-Bibb Board of Elections voted to reverse their initial decision and instead approve a May special election to fill the vacant District 1 seat left empty by Gary Bechtel.
It passed by a 4-1 vote. The election is now set for May 22.
Qualifying for candidates begins Tuesday at 9 a.m. and runs through Thursday at noon. The fee is $450 to qualify.
This new development comes after a busy week following the board's decision to vote down the special election last Friday.
Monday, a group of local attorneys filed a lawsuit against Macon-Bibb County regarding the no-vote. Tuesday, former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis urged the Board of Elections to reverse their decision.
Later Tuesday, current Mayor Robert Reichert voted no on a resolution that would have added an item to the agenda that had Macon-Bibb Board of Elections call for the special election.
Thursday, the board called for Friday's special meeting.
On March 27, Macon-Bibb approved $19,535 in funding for a special election.
Much of the controversy surrounding the vacant District 1 seat stemmed from Macon-Bibb County's looming budget problems -- a nearly $4 million deficit for fiscal year 2018. Officials who argued for the special election -- like Ellis and local attorney Lester Miller -- said District 1 couldn't afford to go unrepresented during this difficult financial time.
WGXA spoke with Board Vice Chair Henry Ficklin after Friday's vote, who said he came back to change his vote after all the backlash from the initial no-vote. He said the last thing he wanted was for people in District 1 to feel disenfranchised.
Commissioner Joe Allen also said he's happy with the new vote.
However, some members still voiced their concerns about the money issues -- as well as the short time span this election will have.
Check back here for updates as this story continues to develop.