Councilwoman says health not key factor

May 8–Macon City Councilwoman Filomena Mullis said Monday she will not seek
re-election to her at-large Ward V seat.

Come December, the ward’s residents will be represented by a slate of council
members entirely different from those elected in 2003.

Councilman Cole Thomason said last week he will give up his Post 3 seat in the
ward when his term expires. And while Councilwoman Nancy White will return if
she wins re-election, she has been on the council less than a year. White won a
special election last summer.

Mullis said two terms on the council is long enough for her, though she will
remain active in the local Democratic party. Her health played only a small role
in her decision, she said.

"I think everybody’s health has to play a part," Mullis said. "But it was not
what you call a major determining factor. I think there’s just a time to move
on, and, I guess you might say, hang it up."

Mullis, who says she is 77, spent the past two winters in the Philippines
seeking a warmer climate to help with her respiratory ailments. Then, in March,
she missed several council meetings after falling in her bathroom and burning
her leg on a heating grate. The burn had to be treated with skin grafts.

Those absences, which caused Mullis to have the lowest council meeting
attendance record of her 14 other colleagues during this term, were a point of
criticism for some. Mullis said she previously has gone to other council members
and offered to resign, but they told her she should remain on the council.

Mullis said she’s glad she stayed. She didn’t really consider how her absences
might affect her re-election chances, she said, as she made her decision to
leave at the end of this term.

Mullis said she always kept track of what the council was doing even when she
was not there to cast a vote. And she said she has been proud to play a role on
the Appropriations Committee to try to help steer city finances back on course
after it became apparent a few years ago that millions of dollars in Macon’s
reserve fund had been spent.

"I know I’ve done a good job," Mullis said. "When I had to leave, I had personal
reasons for leaving."

Of Macon’s 15 council members, three represent each of the city’s five wards.
Post 1 council members are elected citywide, while Post 2 and Post 3 members are
elected only by residents within their respective wards.

Mullis, a Democrat, occupies the ward’s at-large Post 1 seat. Ward V has the
city’s highest percentage of registered white voters and is more Republican
flavored than the rest of the city. The council as a whole leans strongly
Democratic.

These dynamics, in part, mean that the loss of more experienced council members
from Ward V will have little bearing on the effectiveness of the ward’s
representation, Thomason said. It will continue to be difficult for the fifth
ward to exert much influence on the rest of the council, he said, when
representatives from the four other wards are more likely to be politically aligned.

"I think it’ll be pretty much status quo," he said of the effect of the ward’s
collective loss of experience. "You could have somebody that’s been there 100
years and they’re still one vote."

Mullis said she thinks residents will find new council candidates who "will do a
very capable job." The ward does not necessarily run contrary to the rest of the
city, she said. In this past term, its council representatives banded together
to maximize their influence on issues such as Forest Hill Road improvements.

Both Mullis and Thomason said the council’s internal politics have prevented the
ward from obtaining committee chairmanships in recent years. Mullis said she
thinks the positions ought to rotate with each new term rather than leaving it
solely up to the council’s Committee on Committees to decide.

"That’s where politics comes in," she said.

 Title: Mullis won’t run again: Councilwoman says health not key factor
Authors: Barnwell, Matt
Source: Macon Telegraph, The (GA); 05/08/2007

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