5 qualify for Macon Water Authority, including man who vacated the seat

Special election on Nov. 8 is to fill the unexpired term of Desmond Brown who wants to regain seat after failed run for MWA chairman


Liz Fabian

Macon Water Authority District 2 seat is now empty after attorneys concluded Desmond Brown legally vacated the office when he qualified to run for the at-large chairman’s seat.

Voters of Macon Water Authority District 2 will have five candidates on the ballot during the special election Nov. 8, including the man who resigned the seat to qualify for a failed bid for MWA chairman.

Desmond D. Brown leads the ballot by alphabetical order ahead of Lindsay Holliday, Jeffery Howell, Michele Parks and Marshall Talley to fill Brown’s unexpired term. All have run for prior offices, except Howell, whose brother Bill represents the Macon-Bibb County Commission on the authority board.

Desmond Brown

Desmond Denois Brown, 49, touted his construction work and experience laying pipes as qualifications during his failed bid for MWA chairman earlier this year.

Brown, who has lived in Macon his whole life, did not respond to a request for an interview for this article and did not answer repeated requests for information during the chairman’s race and run-off.

He announced on Facebook his candidacy for his old seat in District 2.

“I have decided to heed the calling by the voters of Macon Water Authority District  2 reaching out to me by text messaging and phone calls to please seek re-election. With prayers and love from you all I qualified (Aug. 8). Here I come again! … Ready to work! And still the beloved #Whistleblower,” Brown posted on Facebook.

Brown has said the Macon Water Authority was retaliating against his stance on stormwater issues and redistricting when they launched a special counsel investigation in December after allegations of possible fraud concerning billing the authority for a client of his disaster mitigation company.

Other clients of Brown’s came forward during the investigation which led former district attorney David Cooke to report witnesses had indicated Brown targeted the elderly and did not provide services.

The Macon Newsroom also uncovered Brown’s past legal trouble where he was ordered in 2019 to repay a client’s $40,000 investment from 2011 plus 25 percent yearly interest, which now totals over $150,000. That pending case stalled when Brown filed for bankruptcy after spending a few days in jail in February for not complying with the judge’s order to turn over financial records.

The authority had considered appealing to Gov. Brian Kemp to have Brown removed from his District 2 seat, but he effectively resigned when he qualified to run for chairman earlier this year and the authority concluded Cooke’s investigation.

Lindsay Holliday

Lindsay Dozier Holliday, 67, is a local dentist and current elected supervisor of the Soil and Water Conservation District. Holliday is a lifelong Macon resident who is no stranger to politics and community activism for road safety and environmental concerns.

Holliday ran for Congress in 2020 and also ran twice for Bibb County Commission, including a failed shot for the chairman’s seat. He says his experience in soil and water conservation, as well as training in reviewing erosion control plans, is likely unmatched by the other candidates.

“There are three kinds of water… drinking, soil and storm,” Holliday said in a phone interview with The Macon Newsroom. “Only recently has the Macon Water Authority taken over stormwater and that is my interest. That is why I ran for soil and water commission.”

Back in the 80s, Holliday said a careless developer allowed mud to wash onto his property which led to his keen interest in the topic 40 years ago.

“I called around and no one was enforcing the erosion control laws in Bibb County,” he said.

Someone pointed him to the soil and water commission where he’s been serving for several years.

Jeffery Howell

Jeffery Benjamin Howell, 61, looks back to the Great Flood of ’94 as one of the main reasons he decided to run for the authority with current stormwater issues that have dominated his brother’s public service calls.

Jeff Howell was a Macon Police officer for six years in the early 90s and remembers having no water for nearly three weeks when the water treatment plant flooded after days of tropical rain.

“It really gives you a real appreciation for the Water Authority having plenty of water and good water,” Howell said. “The Water Authority has been well-run and I want to make sure it stays that way.”

Howell retired from the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office after a 2017 crash in his patrol car that likely saved his life. The hospital’s discovery of Stage 4 kidney cancer has allowed him to be treated for what could have been a death sentence if undetected.

“I’m taking treatments and doing well,” Howell told The Macon Newsroom. “I go to Emory pretty often and they’re doing real well.”

The man who has spent 50 years in Macon and now resides in Ingleside, is focused on trying to help ease the public concerns about stormwater.

“I think there’s a lot of issues surrounding that and people asking questions about fees, but something has got to be done,” Howell said. “I always want to plan for the future for industries and the citizens, too.”

Michele Parks

Michele Yvonne Parks, 52, is currently self-employed but has worked in the mental health field for over three decades, she said, and was working as a residential case manager at River Edge when she challenged incumbent County Commissioner Virgil Watkins in 2020.

Preserving the Macon Water Authority’s status among the best water systems in the area is only one of the reasons she decided to run for Brown’s old seat.

“I wanted to run because I feel like we need people with integrity and that’s trustworthy, to help make decisions… to make our community better,” Parks told The Macon Newsroom.

“I really feel like I have a lot to offer the community and I have a lot of good ideas and I love Macon and I really want the city to come together, of course. There’s lots of violence and if we can come together and put our brains together and hopefully we can reach these young people and kind of change the game on a lot of this killing going on,” she said in a phone interview.

Parks, who has lived in Macon 20 years and currently resides in a neighborhood off Eisenhower Parkway, knows of the storm drainage issues plaguing neighborhoods in south Bibb and Bloomfield.

“If I can help come up with a plan and a system to do away with flooding of people’s homes, that will be good,” Parks said.

Marshall Talley with his wife and four children

Marshall Wendell Talley, 38, a food and beverage nightlife consultant, ran unsuccessfully in 2018 for Macon Water Authority District 1, but his Shirley Hills home is now in District 2.

On July 1, Talley announced his candidacy on Facebook : “I know the future of my family and businesses in Macon-Bibb is not only vested in affordable and clean water, but also affordable and clean energy.”

The Macon native who has lived in Bibb County all his life, describes himself as a community change agent, free thinker and owner of FABartender Management Consulting.

“We’re at a critical time,” Talley told The Macon Newsroom in a phone interview Tuesday. “Our energy cost is rising and our water company is real high energy. It costs a lot to push the water and clean the water.”

Renewable energy is something he’s interested in and said he has found some new in-pipe technology that he is anxious to share with local engineers.

“It’s real cool once you start looking into it,” he said. “Other communities are using it and saving energy.

Macon Water Authority District 2 is in pink on this map.

Sheddrick Clark is now filling the District 2 seat temporarily until the special election can be held on Nov. 8. Clark also was tapped to fill the unexpired term of the late Javors Lucas, who died in 2019. That appointment sparked controversy with the Board of Elections because Clark does not live in the district.

– Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.