Three’s company in Cairo mayor’s race
A 16-year veteran of the Grady County Commission qualified to run for mayor of Cairo on Thursday creating a three-man race for the city’s top elected official.
Bobby Burns, a local realtor, appraiser and former banker, joined former county commissioner Charles Renaud and former school board member Scott Higginbotham in the mayor’s race.
Mayor Richard VanLandingham did not qualify prior to qualifying ending last Friday at 4:30 p.m.
“I thought about it long and hard. I’d like the opportunity to help move the city forward in whatever direction the council and the people desire. We can move forward and possibly create more jobs and economic development for our citizens,” Burns said while discussing his candidacy.
While he said other communities have more to offer prospective new businesses and employers, Burns said Cairo and Grady County can develop a niche and build on the city’s proximity to Tallahassee and Thomasville.
Burns said it will take a combined effort involving the city council, city manager and the mayor to make positive changes. The veteran ex-county commissioner also encourages citizens to offer suggestions as to how the city can be improved.
“The experience I gained on the board of commissioners is immeasurable. I learned a lot and it took me a while after being elected to get my feet on the ground. I will bring those experiences with me to the office of the mayor. I have the advantage of knowing the budget procedures and as the commission chairman I have presided over meetings so I have experience there,” Burns said.
The mayoral candidate credits the city council and City Manager Chris Addleton for the city’s successes.
“We’ve got a good group of councilmen. They appear to get along well. Naturally they will have disagreements, but when they leave the meeting I don’t hear rumblings. When it’s over it’s over,” Burns said.
Burns is also complimentary of the city manager.
“By and large I don’t see where I could make any great recommendations for changes. Chris Addleton, as far as I know, has done a tremendous job and everyone I have spoken with hold him in high regard. I can’t disagree,” Burns said.
The former county commissioner also praised the city employees. “I’m looking forward to working with them. While on the board and in business I have dealt with every department in the city. We have a good bunch of people who are very knowledgeable working with the city,” he said.
For the last 15 months Burns has served as a member of the Grady County Board of Tax Assessors, a post he plans to vacate regardless of the outcome of the election.
“I intend to request to be put on the county commission’s next agenda and I will recommend to them that they name my replacement and I will go ahead and step aside. Whether I win or not I plan to leave and this will allow time for my replacement to attended required training that I think is only held twice a year,” Burns said.
The mayor of Cairo does not have a vote except in the event of a tie and Burns says that will make it difficult for him to make substantial changes in city government.
“Any endeavor is an opportunity to do better. One person can’t do it and I don’t have the ability to do it alone when I have five votes up there that could be against me,” Burns said.
However, if fortunate enough to be elected to serve, Burns intends on examining current projects and programs as well as pending projects and offering his suggestions as the mayor.
Burns is making no predictions on the outcome of the election.
“With a three-man race there is no telling what might happen. I would be honored to serve as mayor and will do my very best if I am fortunate enough to be elected,” Burns said.