MOULTRIE, Ga. — Lisa Clarke Hill predicted “an awesome change” when she was first voted onto the Moultrie City Council. Since then, she said, she’s done all she could make it happen. Eddie Warren is challenging Hill for her District 1 Post 1 seat on the council because he believes he can do it "a little bit better."
Election day is Nov. 5, but early voting starts Oct. 14.
Lisa Clarke Hill
Hill, District 1 Post 1 councilwoman, was first elected in 2012. It’s been eight years since and she’s made it her mission to “unlock the mystery of government” starting with transparency and a phone number.
“You go on the website, that’s my real cell number,” she said. “Monday through Sunday, 24/7, 365 days a year, you have access.”
Call or text her anytime, she said. Hill strives to simply be there for her constituents — to listen. She said her city council position isn’t a position of vanity, but a servant to its people.
“I tell people, you all are our bosses,” she said. “When we’re in those (city council) positions, I’m not there to be served, I’m there to serve and I love that.
And that love extends to all aspects of her life. When she’s not sitting in the city council seat, she serves Moultrie as a school social worker at Colquitt County High School, a job she’s held for 20 years.
As a social worker, Hill works with students, helping guide their futures and cultivating their drive for education.
“I love it because I’m working with students that are sometimes feeling like they don’t have a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “I can be that little light and let them know ‘You can make it, you can graduate.’”
Considering her journey from “humble beginnings,” she felt it necessary to give back.
Growing up, Hill lived within the Moultrie Housing Authority and shotgun housing. She was raised by her single mother who didn’t have much but made do with the resources at hand.
Education being the driving force, she pushed herself to finish school at all levels graduating from Colquitt County High (regardless of the baby in tow), Albany State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work and Ohio State University with a master’s degree in clinical social work, all with a resume of leadership roles.
She’s more than 50 percent finished with her doctoral degree in social work.
Once finishing her master’s, she came back to Moultrie with a goal of giving back to her home place.
“I wanted to come back home to help make Moultrie an even better place,” she said. “That’s when I decided to myself, I want to be a part of my small town.”
The council has accomplished much since Hill joined in 2012, including upgrading the city parks; street resurfacing; waste-water treatment facility upgrades; separating the utility bundle; and applying for and receiving USDA and CHIP grants for affordable housing renovations and ownership every cycle, to name a few accomplishments.
She’s also received over 140 hours of City Government Training via The University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government and served on the Georgia Municipal Association legislative policy and federal policy council.
Hill said she does this to give Moultrie a voice on a state level.
“It’s not enough to be an island within your city and not network with the neighboring towns, the state, [etc.],” she said.
Hill is incumbent for the Post 1 city council position. She’ll come face to face with Eddie Warren in the final month before election.
“I was a teen mom, domestic violence survivor, and survived a lot of other adversity that have enabled me to remain true to myself and the people I serve,” she said. “I’m in it to win it, but I’m in it to win it for the people.”
Eddie Warren might’ve been shaky in his convictions to run for District 1 Post 1 city council originally, but all doubt’s been erased. He will join the city council — or at least that’s his ambition.
Warren, who ran for council and lost in 2015, fought bouts of uncertainty since he qualified to run. In a call made to him by The Observer on Sept. 9, Warren said he was resigning. According to him, his life was a bit hectic at the time.
“I was going to drop out because I was kind of sick [after] I had surgery [and] I got a lot of things on my plate,” Warren said.
He’s since recanted on that statement because of a realization.
As a “well-known” person throughout the community, he said he has the power to change his community for the better. Like many city council members and candidates, he sees it as his duty.
“I don’t have anything against Mrs. Lisa Clarke Hill because I think she’s a fine lady, but I think I can just do a little bit better,” Warren said. “It’s just a goal I want to achieve.”
Remembering his father’s advice, “If you got something to do, you go for it,” Warren is pushing forward his mission. That mission is getting rid of the drugs in the community, handling the abandoned houses of northwest Moultrie and building a bigger budget for the Moultrie Police Department.
Warren said he has a longer agenda of topics, but those three are the most important issues for him.
“The people are very concerned about our area over here,” he said. District 1 includes most of northwest Moultrie and a portion of southwest Moultrie.
He himself wants to make a safer place for his children and grandchildren to live their lives. Warren doesn’t have a full plan, but he said he has a semblance of one he wants to flesh out more with the council.
He said he wants two officers in northwest, southwest and northeast Moultrie always in case something happens — which should help with general safety and drugs. Doling more funds would into the MPD would help with this issue, as well as provide better equipment, he said.
“They do a dangerous job,” Warren said. “I have to give it to them; they’re out there every day taking a risk [and] you got some crazy people out there that wouldn’t mind hurting them. They need funds to get more protection.”
As for the abandoned houses, Warren said there are two options: “Fix them or get rid of them.” There’s no need to board them up. He said property value needs to go up.
But doing so requires major cosmetic improvements, something covered by the international property management codes adopted late in 2018. This forced property owners to receive inspections and mandatory fixes before utilities were cut on.
It’s the topic of a lawsuit filed against the city in August. Warren said the IPMC needs some adjustment before dealing with the abandoned houses. It’s too strict on property owners, he said.
“It really costs a lot of money when a person moves in, stays two months and moves out,” Warren said. “Then you got to go spend about another $1,000 to $1,500 to get it ready for the next person. So, I think the inspectors are just a little bit too hard.”
Warren wants to work with the council and property owners to forge compromises within the IPMC, much like the now defunct but similarly purposed committee from 2018.
This is a part of a citywide growth initiative he wants pushed. It’ll put Moultrie on par with cities like Tifton, Albany, Fitzgerald and Cairo, he said.
“When I get there (to city council), which I’m going to get there, I want to see the whole city grow,” Warren said. “I want to see the whole city accomplish some things that we’ve never done before.”
So far, Warren said he wants to bring more entertainment and businesses to West Central Avenue (such as a bowling alley, sports center, etc.), and build better sidewalks on Martin Luther King Junior Drive Northwest for kids to walk to school.
He also wants to work with the council to give raises to city employees.
Warren has lived in Moultrie more than 30 years after moving from Bainbridge, Georgia. He’s a father of three and grandfather of nine.
Warren currently serves as a bus driver, a deacon at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and the owner of Warren and Sons Demolition and Construction.
In the past, he served as NAACP president, a district irdinator, and in It Takes a Village. He said he’s prepared to serve his community even more, come election on Nov. 5.
“I’m sorry it took me so long, but these are some things I want to do,” Warren said. “[There’s] a lot of things we need to do in Moultrie [but] we need to work together and love another, most of all.”