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Wrong David Cousino?

David Cousino


Macon Telegraph

HQ Phone:  (478) 744-4200


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Macon Telegraph

305 Coliseum Dr.

Macon, Georgia,31217

United States

Company Description

The mission of the Macon Economic Development Commission (MEDC) is to attract, sustain and grow primary jobs and investment in Macon and Bibb County. MEDC is a private/public agency funded by the business community through the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce...more

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The former Republican nominee for Macon Mayor, David Cousino told 13WMAZ he plans to run for Chairman of Bibb County Commission.

David Cousino

Republican Macon mayoral candidate David Cousino speaks about his vision for the city during an interview Thursday at his office. Cousino, a candidate whom even many in his own party know little about, caught many by surprise when he defeated Arlan Gibson in last week's primary.Republican Macon mayoral candidate David Cousino speaks about his vision for the city during an interview Thursday at his office.Cousino, a candidate whom even many in his own party know little about, caught many by surprise when he defeated Arlan Gibson in last week's primary.Most Macon mayoral candidates who earn just 318 votes might want to give up on their hopes for political greatness.David Cousino, however, believes his low-vote Republican primary win is just the beginning of his journey to City Hall.Even at first glance, Cousino breaks the mold of convention.The 46-year-old home security system installer is just as likely to show up at a public event wearing a T-shirt with "Cousino For Mayor" written in marker - as he did at a recent Macon Music baseball game - as he would a suit and tie.Cousino doesn't have a Web site.He gives out his personal cell phone number to any voter who wants it.He doesn't put ads on billboards, in the newspaper or on TV.And he most definitely doesn't place campaign signs in the rights-of-way, often chastising politicians who do.Since announcing his bid for mayor this spring, he has raised almost no money for his campaign.But Cousino, ever the optimist, said he isn't worried about the vote disparity."There was a lot of crossover," he said."Look at the total number of voters in Macon.A lot of people don't show up to vote in the primaries."Considering the large crossover and 30,000 people who didn't vote, Cousino said he has a shot."But we are not going to run against Mr. Cousino.Instead, we are running for mayor.We are going to re-emphasize our programs, our credentials, our message and hope we enjoy the same kind of victory in November that we had in July."Now Cousino faces the monumental challenge of trying to convince voters to listen to his unique viewpoints in the wake of the overwhelming support for Reichert.Cousino is the first to admit his outlook flies in the face of convention."Remember, I think out of the box, not in the box," he said with a chuckle.Like most of the seven mayoral candidates in the two primaries, Cousino wants to see Macon improve as a city by infusing it with people, business and tourism.It's how he plans to achieve those goals that separates him from nearly any candidate who has ever run for this city's top elected job.Cousino's grand plan for Macon involves working with the Muscogee Creek Nation to return land in the city and Bibb County that previously belonged to the tribe when white settlers moved here nearly 200 years ago."Everything that was traditionally their property - they want what's rightfully theirs," said Cousino, who said he has no Creek ancestry in his family."I'm not giving away land," Cousino said.Cousino said the land reverting to Creek territory wouldn't affect Macon residents' homes and businesses because the Creek Nation needs those people to make up the tax base."They would incorporate us into their own system," Cousino said."They would have to incorporate us.The city would grow overnight."He said becoming part of the Creek territory also would help ensure residents' safety, because Cousino believes that terrorists wouldn't view the city as a target if it wasn't part of the traditional United States."Whatever the best interests of the citizens, I'm here to protect our city," Cousino said.Cousino isn't saying how he came up with this plan or with whom in the Creek Nation he has dealt with.Part of the reason for his secrecy, he said, is that announcing details too early would allow those opposed to his plans to derail them.Several officials within the Creek national government said they haven't heard of Cousino, nor did they know anything of any plans to try to reclaim ancestral territory in Georgia."Not that I know of - no one in the administration," said one Creek official who wanted her name withheld from this story."In the past, we've had real good support with Mayor (Jack) Ellis.We've discussed a lot of things with him, such as the Ocmulgee (National) Monument, and we've done work about culture and tourism."Without revealing specific details of his plans, Cousino said hoping voters understand his ideas is a gamble."I'm walking on faith, whatever I do," he said.Cousino's campaign strategy has been to meet people face to face, knocking on doors and pounding the pavement.He doesn't talk or dress like a politician.He doesn't wear a suit often, and when he talks, he often makes mistakes with words.For example, he refers to an impossible situation as a "Catch 20" and referred to a lack of government control as "anarchasy.""It's hard for me," he said."There's so much going on in my head that it's hard to bring it down into the common language."No matter whether a voter agrees with Cousino's positions, there's little doubt he is sincere in his beliefs.Cousino considers himself as a completely ordinary guy, and it's his everyman, nonpolitical quality that he believes will ring true with Macon voters."I'm a people person," he said."I cross racial barriers, I cross cultural barriers."Originally from Michigan, Cousino moved to Macon 20 years ago, although he has spent a great deal of the past two decades doing missionary work in Africa and Asia.It's that spirit that helped lead him to seek public office, he said."I'm a missionary.I want to take care of this place," he said."This place can be a resort, take care of the needs of the people."Cousino has often said he jumped in the mayor's race because friends and acquaintances told him he should."I know what kind of person he is," said Phyllis Pope, a friend and supporter of Cousino's.Cousino said his life experiences will help him if he becomes mayor, even if those experiences are negative.For example, Cousino declared bankruptcy three years ago and said he won't have his debts completely paid off until October.The bankruptcy, he said, stemmed from a business deal made as part of his home security systems career."That's how I know to sign contracts," he said."Now I'm very careful.It opened up my eyes.I was lured into something and didn't realize it."Macon has had its share of financial problems, and Cousino said he can relate."I've been there," he said."I know what to look for now."POLITICS AS USUAL - OR NOTEven beyond his Creek Nation idea, Cousino has other plans for the city.One of his goals is to establish high-speed rail service between Macon and Savannah and get federal money to pay for it.Bringing goods from Savannah's ports into a free-trade zone established in Macon would be a way to generate money for the city, he said.In addition, he wants to both privatize and expand Middle Georgia Regional Airport.Cousino said problems at Macon's main airport stem from its small size."If we had more airlines, if we expanded Cochran Field another 300 feet, we could get federal grants," he said.If Cousino has his way, he would completely overhaul the slate of higher-paid city employees."Get rid of the fat," he said.He would scrutinize payroll lists, and anyone making more than $30,000 a year would be judged on necessity and productivity.For example, he would reduce the number of city attorneys, including assistant attorneys, from three to one."You have one job being put out (in) three pieces," he said."We have three different city attorneys.You should have one.If we need more, then we will hire another one."But police and fire employees might see big raises if he becomes mayor, he said.Cousino said he wants to increase their pay to the $50,000-$60,000 range to make their salaries comparable to other cities.Cousino also wants to distance the city from taking part in business enterprises such as the convention hotel project."I want to get the city out of it," Cousino said."If you have two companies that want to build hotels across the street from each other, let them build two hotels."Cousino said

Macon mayoral candidate David Cousino, right, takes a moment to talk up his campaign with Michael Thomas last week before heading to an election event.Macon mayoral candidate David Cousino, right, takes a moment to talk up his campaign with Michael Thomas last week before heading to an election event.GET TO KNOW David CousinoDavid Cousino doesn't just acknowledge his status as an outsider in Macon politics.He practically revels in it.While most of the other five Democratic and one Republican candidates in line to be Macon's next mayor can point to some level of political experience during their careers, Cousino said being a newcomer to the political scene makes him the best candidate for mayor.He said he is beholden to no one and doesn't "play the political game."Longtime friends such as Jones County builder T.D. Brantley say they support Cousino because they think his sense of honesty separates him from other candidates."He's honest.That's probably his biggest qualification," said Brantley, who has been friends with Cousino for more than 20 years.Cousino, a Flint, Mich., native who arrived in Macon 20 years ago, said he got into politics after talking with his customers about the problems facing Macon and Bibb County."They kept saying, 'You ought to run for mayor.You ought to run for (Bibb) County Commission chair,'," Cousino said.In 2004, Cousino tried to get onto the ballot for the Bibb County Commission chairman's seat, but he fell short of gaining the number of necessary signatures to run as an independent.This time out, Cousino is carrying the Republican banner, and many of his ideas fit into the traditional Republican philosophy of smaller government and encouraging private investment to help support the city."Government is a business - the business of taking care of people," he said.Cousino said however that land might be developed, coupled with the historic Ocmulgee National Monument, would be a start in developing the area as a tourist destination, which he believes would lead to more development in the city."Get an area developed so the world can see," he said."If there is an overflow, if (Macon) is well-developed, then other developers will come in.The city shouldn't be competing (in business).Private businesses will compete.When the city competes, that's why people are leaving, why our growth has fallen."Cousino wouldn't say whether he's been talking with businessmen from the Creeks about developing land in Macon."No comment," Cousino said with a grin.Cousino said he wants to further develop Middle Georgia Regional Airport as well as encourage the state to bring commuter rail through the area, which he insists will further tourism efforts.If the airport offered stops in popular Southeast cities such as Orlando, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., and Biloxi, Miss., then travelers to those destinations would, in turn, come back to Macon."We can have people around the world come and see us," he said."If a person gets bored of an area, Macon can be a central hub.People can fly into Macon or live in Macon.We can have good resources for people who are going to other areas.We need to develop the rails, the airport and the historical sites, then let the world know about us."Cousino said his ideas about tourism were inspired by his own travels as a Christianmissionary in other parts of the world, including parts of Asia, Africa and South America.Frank Matovu, a retired Macon physician originally from Africa, said Cousino has shown a great understanding of world issues because of his mission trips."He has a wide knowledge of issues pertaining to Africa," said Matovu, who has known Cousino more than a decade.Though a proponent for increasing Macon's tourism, Cousino said he isn't a fan of the new convention center hotel scheduled to be built in the parking lot of the Macon Coliseum."It's in line with what I am thinking, but it shouldn't be city funds to develop it," he said."It should be done by private enterprise."Cousino said he would rather see city funds being used to solve Macon's financial woes and increasing the pay of city employees, particularly police.Cousino said once he takes office, he would go through the budget line by line to cut out waste."It's like bankruptcy," he said."You have to cut your expenditures and find new ways to get revenues."One of Cousino's main issues, he said, is to develop existing property in Macon."We have a lot of half-full buildings," he said.As mayor, Cousino said he would be involved with national, state and other municipal governments in order to make things better for Maconites.If elected, he said, he would be in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., to try to get as many state and federal grants for the city as possible, as well as to lobby for causes that would benefit the Macon area.Cousino also said he plans to be involved with the Bibb County school board in order to improve local schools.Cousino said he is the candidate of the people, and as mayor, he would offer town-hall meetings to get as much input as possible."We need to find out what the people want," he said.Cousino said it is important for residents like himself to help engineer change for the city."If something needs to be changed and you have the ideas and visions, you need to do it," he said.

David CousinoMayor - Republican primary

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