COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Pops Barnes is seeking his fourth term on Columbus City Council and says he's learned a lot since that first election twelve years ago.
"Never had any money. Didn't realize it took money. So, I said I've got to let people know me. So, I just went to Walmart, bought me some sneaks and knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, started knocking on doors and I haven't stopped," Barnes said.
He's facing a minister this time around, Pastor Gregory Blue, who says Post 1 has changed, and not in a good way.
"The first district used to be a really low crime rate, but it's one of the highest crime rates in our city right now, and I don't see anything being done," said Blue.
Pops disagrees but says the numbers are puzzling.
"Crime is actually down in Columbus. What's up is murder."
Which Barnes says is being addressed at least as far as law enforcement is concerned.
"I know in the mayor's budget, she's doing a pay across-the-board, and that's a start," Barnes said.
He means a pay increase, but Pastor Blue says other improvements are needed.
"I think we need better cooperation between the three police forces that we have. We need to make those agencies work together, particularly when we're running a shortage of Columbus police department anywhere, estimates between 80 and 120 officers a month," said Blue.
Both men say attracting new businesses is important, but so is keeping the companies that do come here. They're talking about NCR, which announced recently that it is moving its operations out of Columbus.
"When we make agreements we really need to make sure that we make agreements that will be lasting and locked in, because that came out of nowhere and that surprised a lot of us," said Barnes.