Charles Roberts may be new to “political stuff” and doesn’t quite know how to launch a campaign, but he’s now officially a potential candidate for Columbus mayor.
“I am not sure how to go about declaring I am running for mayor, but I turned in my declaration of intent this morning,” he posted Wednesday on the Columbus, GA Concerned Citizens Forum Facebook page. “If anybody can point me in the direction I need to go to make an official announcement, it would be much (appreciated).”
The post generated a flurry of comments from Facebook friends — some offering advice, others questioning his qualifications.
“Um, just a suggestion.... If you want to be the Mayor of the third largest city in the state of Georgia, you might want to check out a book from the library related to Georgia civics and legal requirements for office....,” wrote the first person to comment.
“I have a copy of the legal requirements you mention. I have all of the appropriate paperwork filed with the elections office and will be sending off the required forms to the state as well,” Roberts responded.
When another Facebook friend suggested he contact local media, Roberts wrote: “I will do just. I’m new to the political stuff so I wasn’t sure how to go about announcing that type of thing.”
Shortly thereafter, the Ledger-Enquirer received an email from Roberts.
“Briefly stated below, you will find information upon which I plan to build my campaign,” it read. “The first thing that would need to happen is to work toward building relationships to unify the city as one. Right now, to me, it seems to be fractured...starting at Macon road.
“There should never be a negative word said about North Columbus vs South Columbus,” it continued. “The next thing that needs to happen is to work with law enforcement like CPD, to work on a solution to get the right number of officers on the street patrolling, as I know they are short staffed. Once those 2 things have been accomplished, it would then be time for self reflection...by that I mean what can be done to make the government more efficient for less money...Understanding that the economic times are tough. Thanks, Charlie.”
In an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, Roberts said he’s an operations analyst lead at TSYS. Prior to that, he worked for the Columbus Consolidated Government for almost six years as a web developer.
“So I’ve seen how the city government operates, I’ve seen that there may have been some inefficiencies that have been addressed since I left,” he said. “But I know in general, there probably hasn’t been.”
He said he’s aiming for the city’s top position because he thinks someone needs to be in office who really understands the issues and will work with all law enforcement agencies, including the Marshal’s Office, to bring the crime rate down.
Someone on Facebook asked: “what do you have a degree in, do you have an advanced degree, from what school/schools, where do you work, for how long, do you have negative finacial problems/and or bankruptcies and have you ever owed past due child support?”
Roberts responded: “I have a B.S. in Information Technology from the University of Phoenix, A Masters in Information Security and Assurance from Capella, and am starting a Masters in Cyber security from the University of Delaware. I have had one bankruptcy on my record from 2002 or 2003. I have never owed child support at all.”
“It’s been a tugging on my heart as far as trying to unite Columbus as one, because so far it seems to be, in my opinion, falling apart with different crimes being reported daily by the news media and things like that,” he said. “I felt like it would be beneficial for somebody with youth — that would be myself — and an eye toward bringing unity to Columbus, as well as also the welfare of police in Columbus — to run for mayor and that’s what I intend to do.”
Filing the Declaration of Intent allows a candidate to start raising money. But Roberts will have to qualify in March to officially run for the position, according to officials at the Elections and Registration Office.