Incumbent Covington City Councilman Mike Whatley, who is running for his third term on the council, vies against Bobby Sigman, a former city councilman, who left the city council in 1998 to wage an unsuccessful mayoral campaign, for the Post 2 East Ward seat.
"I guess I was born with politics in my blood," said Sigman at a forum for Covington candidates Tuesday night.
Sigman said it was the worst mistake he ever made to resign from the council in order to run for mayor. He ran three times unsuccessfully for mayor against Sam Ramsey, current Covington mayor.
"I wanted to be the captain," said Sigman, adding that if he were elected, he would be okay with simply "swabbing the deck and cleaning up the mess."
Whatley, who characterized himself as a public servant rather than a politician at the same forum, held at the Newton County Library, said he is running for re-election because "I'm enjoying it and I'm having fun with it."
Whatley added he feels he has more time to give to the council now that he is retired from his job with the Georgia Rural Water Association.
Sigman said he taught the city council a lot when he was a member and encouraged attendants of the forum to vote for him saying, "Give me another four years and maybe you'll learn some more.
Sigman added he wasn't afraid of taking unpopular positions and of looking under "dark rocks."
Instead of asking attendants to vote for him, Whatley encouraged them to just make sure they voted.
"I'd just much rather you get out and vote," Whatley said.
Whatley drew attention to the fact that it takes a consensus on the council for a proposal to pass.
"No one person on the council can make any dramatic changes," Whatley said. "It takes the whole body."
While Whatley said he believed the most pressing concern facing the city was the alleviation of poverty, Sigman said he believed it to be traffic. Sigman also said he was in favor of trimming back the city's budget in order to lower utility rates for city customers.
Whatley called the recent accreditation of all four of the city's municipal departments - Fire, Police, 911 and Public Works - one of his proudest moments thus far on the council.
"That's a big deal," Whatley said. "I'm very proud of that and I'm very proud of our employees."
A lifelong resident of Newton County, Whatley served as deputy director of the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority for 13 years. In 1996 he left the authority to work as a technical consultant for small water systems and as an operator certification trainer for the Georgia Rural Water Association. He retired last year.
Whatley has a degree in public administration from Clayton State College and University. In 2006 he was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue to the Georgia State Board of Examiners for Certification of Water & Wastewater. He is also a member of First Presbyterian Church of Covington and Covington Elks Lodge No. 1808.
He and his wife Billie Jean have a son, Lauren.
"My record speaks for itself," Whatley said. "One of my favorite sayings is 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'"
A real-estate broker since 1970, Sigman owns his own real-estate company, Sigman Land Investment Company. He served on the city council from 1994 to 1998 and was re-elected to a second term but gave up his seat in order to run for mayor in 1998. Sigman also previously represented Newton County in the Georgia General Assembly as a state representative from 1975 to 1977.
Sigman and his wife Pamela have two children and two grandchildren.
"I believe in open-government," Sigman said. "I'm a people's candidate.