We had a pretty big election season wrap up here recently in my home of Macon, GA, the Jewel of the Fall Line. Where once we had both city and county governments, now we have one unified body. These elections were for the first folks to occupy both executive and legislative branches of this new body.
In the executive corner, the race went from six candidates to two in a runoff. One of the last two standing was C. Jack Ellis, two term Mayor of Macon. Ellis can be a polarizing figure here locally. In his second term he was the subject of a recall effort. He also was wildly popular with many as the city's first black mayor.
Flash back to election day. I was tasked with telling the Ellis end of the story. Jim Gaines, our city hall reporter, was kind enough to share Ellis' number with me late in the afternoon. I called him up and asked where he was going to be that day.
Me:"Mr. Ellis, I just wanted to know where you will be today so we can catch up with you, make some photos...."
Ellis:"I'm not doing anything for the media."
Me:"Great, I don't want you to do anything for me. I just want see what you are up to."
Ellis:"We are out in Tindall Heights trying to get out the vote. (yells) Have you voted!?"
Me"Well. yes sir I have..."
And that's where I realized he wasn't talking to me anymore. He was shouting at a potential voter. Out in Tindall Heights, one of the oldest housing projects in the country. Turned out Ellis didn't care if I tagged along while he did his thing, but he sure wasn't going to slow down.
Ellis was going door to door. Knocking, cajoling, offering rides to the polls. But, to be clear, never making a 1;1 relationship between the ride and a vote for him. The man was working.
As a former two term mayor and the first black mayor in the city, Ellis had something of star appeal with a lot of the folks we ran into.
Ellis carried groceries for one woman so she could get back out the polls more quickly.
What's campaigning without kissing babies?
Ellis explains the importance of voting to a young man who went by the name Slim.
Easily my favorite moment of the outing was when the ice cream truck came tinkling down the block. Some of the kids had money for ice cream. Others tearily did not. Apparently this didn't sit well with Ellis as he began hand out cash to the kids at the truck so they could all enjoy some ice cream.
At the end of the day, Ellis lost the runoff to sitting mayor Robert Reichert. Though Ellis more or less stated that this was his last run, his past tells me that you would be foolish to count him out of the fight.