Former Columbus Chamber of Commerce vice president Colin Martin officially launched his candidacy for mayor to the theme of, “Hold on. Help is on the way” with seven elected city officials attending.
Among the 50 or so people attending Martin’s campaign kickoff at the City Services Center were Columbus Councilors Glenn Davis, Bruce Huff and Gary Allen, Sheriff John Darr, Marshal Greg Countryman, Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop and Tax Commissioner Lula Huff.
Martin repeated his “Help is on the way” mantra specifically to city employees, law enforcement, south Columbus residents, crime victims, taxpayers and local elected officials.
“As public safety director, the mayor should listen to the fears of the citizens and work to relieve those fears,” Martin said. “I will honor Mayor Jim Wetherington’s promise to appropriate 70 percent of the 2009 Local Option Sales Tax to fund public safety.”
He also addressed the elected officials attending, all of whom made up the front row at his presentation.
“I understand that we are peers, all elected by the voters of Columbus, and I commit to each of you that we will create a new partnership to make this community Georgia’s best place to live, work and raise a family,” Martin said. “We may have different titles but we have the same duty: to serve the people of this city.”
Asked after the speech if they were endorsing Martin’s candidacy, Councilors Allen and Huff would only say that their presence there “speaks for itself.”
Countryman said he is supporting Martin because his “vision for public safety lines up with mine.”
Darr said he was only there to hear what the candidate had to say.
“I have tremendous respect for anyone who stands for public office,” Darr said.
Creighton Bishop said she will hear what all the candidates have to say before making up her mind on whom to support.
Martin will face incumbent Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson and 2010 mayoral runner-up Zeph Baker.
Tomlinson has as of Dec. 31 raised almost $127,000 in campaign contributions, according to filings with the state Campaign Finance Commission. Neither Baker nor Martin have filed campaign finance reports as of Wednesday afternoon.
Tomlinson, who is starting the final year of her first term, called the number of elected officials apparently supporting Martin “disappointing,” and attributed it to the difficult task of ending deficit spending.
”This long, arduous process of changing our ways so we can get to a more sustainable future for the city has been frustrating for a lot of people in the legislative process,” Tomlinson said. “But my door is always open to work with any of the city councilors and to collaborate with them.”
Tomlinson also said if Martin was implying that the city isn’t living up to Wetherington’s 70 percent promise, “that’s just factually incorrect statement, if he’s implying that 70 percent isn’t being dedicated to public safety.”“I’m very happy to have the active support of Mayor Jim Wetherington in my reelection campaign,” Tomlinson said. “He and I have a friendship but we also have a relationship where we confer quite often, particularly on his intent and purpose for the Other LOST.
”I know from that regular interaction that he is very happy with this administration’s execution of his intent for the Other LOST.”
A phone message asking Baker for comment was not returned.