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Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Water Authority taps political veteran to fill District 1 seat

Former city councilman and Bibb commissioner Calder Clay served on MWA for two years
Calder Clay

When Macon Water Authority Chairman Gary Bechtel explored options for filling the District 1 seat vacated by Anissa Jones, his friend Calder Clay came to mind.

“I was looking for someone who had experience and had worked in an elected position in county government, and I could think of no better person under those conditions,” Bechtel said during Thursday’s meeting.

Clay, 66, is a Republican stalwart who served on the Macon City Council from 1995-1999 before being elected to the Bibb County Commission. He was the county’s representative on the Macon Water Authority from 2000-2002 when he made his first unsuccessful bid for Congress.

Democrat Jim Marshall narrowly defeated Clay by one percentage point in 2002, but widened his margin of victory to 26 points for the rematch in 2004.

After both elections, Clay vowed that he still had public service in his blood.

“I still feel the call to serve,” Clay told the press in 2005. “When the timing’s right for me and my family, I will offer myself again for public service and again let people decide whether I’m the right candidate to fill the bill.”

That year, he turned down a George W. Bush appointment as southeastern director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to avoid the commute to Atlanta and spend more time with his teenage children.

Although he didn’t seek another elected office, Clay actively campaigned for GOP candidates such as Sonny Perdue and Brian Kemp, who appointed him to the state board of the Technical College System of Georgia. Clay remains on that board.

He’s a businessman who sells medical equipment through a couple of entities, including Southern Spine which is based in downtown Macon.

The opportunity to serve again on the Authority “came out of the blue,” he said.

“Man, I’m just thrilled and honored that I get to jump back in and have a short-term impact,” Clay said Friday. “I’m excited about it.”

By design, Clay does not live in District 1 and is ineligible to run in the special election planned during the November General Election when Jones is running as a Democrat for Georgia House District 143 against Republican Barbara Boyer. Incumbent Democrat Rep. James Beverly is not seeing re-election. 

Current County Commissioner Elaine Lucas, who is serving her last term on the Commission, has expressed interest in running for the MWA seat.

Clay has already met with MWA Executive Director Ron Shipman and plans to schedule a tour to reacquaint himself with the Authority, he said.

“Let’s get the Water Authority juices flowing, and understand kind of where we are and what’s going on — the major challenges and how I can help address them,” Clay said.

He is expected to be sworn in this week by Bibb County Probate Judge Sarah Harris.

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-957-2829.

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