Chattahoochee Chatter: Mayor Teresa Tomlinson rejects offer to run for higher office

June 26, 2013 

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson says she's not going anywhere. Not just yet.

Tomlinson confirmed Wednesday that she has been approached by "politicos" to consider a run for either the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss or the governor's seat in 2014.

"And I told them, 'No thank you, I'm running for mayor,'" Tomlinson said.

It is not unusual, Tomlinson said, for mayors of larger cities to be courted for higher office. Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, for example, has also been repeatedly approached, she said.

"The type of individuals who approached me about both Chambliss' seat and the governor's office are the type of people who make those kinds of entrees politicos," she said. "They're people who work the party system and try to flesh out prospective candidates.

"I thanked them and told them I was flattered, but it's not even anything I would consider."

She was approached initially and more often about Chambliss' seat, she said, but because she made it so clear that she had no immediate interest in statewide office, fewer people have approached her about challenging Gov. Nathan Deal. She was most recently approached at a June 6 judicial reception at the River Club.

Tomlinson said she would "never say never" about seeking higher office in 2018. But whether she seeks another public office or another kind of job, it will be something in which she thinks she can make a difference.

"At my core, I am a problem solver," she said. "That's what I love to do. I like to take things that are in disarray and resolve them and make them functional."

Well, if the Muscogee County School Board hasn't found a new superintendent by 2018 …

•••

As the Columbus area was thanking its lucky stars Tuesday that the U.S. Army had decided to keep the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team at Fort Benning, an aura of shock was washing over the state of Kentucky.

Military leaders, in their infinite wisdom, said that Fort Campbell, Ky., will be losing a combat brigade, as will Fort Knox, home of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

The latter is interesting considering that brigade had only been at Fort Knox since 2009, when the last Base Realignment and Closure process also prompted the relocation of the U.S. Army Armor School to Fort Benning, a move completed in 2011.

The sting this time was evident in the words of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who said he was "surprised" and "deeply disappointed" by what will transpire.

"This decision will likely remove nearly 10,000 military employees and dependents from the area, which will have a profound economic impact not only on Ft. Knox, but the surrounding region as well," he said in a statement.

Beshear continued: "While I understand that the Departments of the Army and Defense must adjust to the current budget realities, this decision seems to focus on shorter term savings at the expense of longer term readiness."

The governor noted that the military pumped $500 million into the Kentucky installation during the last BRAC. And he expressed hope in the future that the post will gain other units and activities. In the last round, it did pick up the U.S. Army Human Resources Command and more than 4,000 soldiers and civilian employees to boot.

The Army, on the other hand, spent more than $3.5 billion on getting Fort Benning ready for the Armor School and future growth. Columbus residents would argue that was money well spent and it presumably helped sway the decision to keep the 3rd Brigade and its 3,850 troops here, as well as add a seventh battalion and several hundred more soldiers to the unit.

Yes, we in Chatterland understand the utter disappointment those at Fort Knox are feeling today, and we certainly sympathize with them.

But on the post-war economic battlefield the military is navigating today, we absolutely do thank our lucky stars that Fort Benning was victorious in this latest budgetary fight.

Hooah!

•••

Now, for a little carpooling news.

For what it's worth, here is how Muscogee County School Board members paired up to drive to Atlanta and interview two undisclosed superintendent candidates Friday in the office of law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, where search consultant Glenn Brock is a partner:

• Chairman Rob Varner of District 5 with Naomi Buckner of District 4.

• County-wide representative Cathy Williams with Shannon Smallman of District 7.

• John Wells of District 2 by himself.

• Mark Cantrell of District 6 by himself.

• Vice chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1, Athavia "A.J." Senior of District 3 and Beth Harris of District 8 participated via video conference from the Muscogee County Public Education Center.

It's time for Chatter to ride on out of here for the week.

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