MOULTRIE, Ga. — Incumbent Cecil Barber faces Rachel Weeks for Moultrie City Council’s District 2 Post 4 seat in this year’s city election.
Election Day will be Nov. 5 with early voting taking place Oct. 14-Nov. 1 at the Moultrie Municipal Building. Citizens must be registered to vote by Oct. 7 to cast a ballot.
This is the second in a series of profiles of the candidates. The candidates for Post 3 — Cole Posey and Angela Castellow — were profiled online Sept. 11 and in the Sept. 13 print edition of The Moultrie Observer.
Cecil Barber is the incumbent holder of the District 2 Post 4 city council position and if he’s reelected, his goal is to continue Moultrie’s growth.
He’s being challenged by Rachel Weeks in the Nov. 5 election.
Having been a native of Moultrie and a city councilman for 22 years, Barber’s seen waves of change rush over Moultrie. He’s been a part of it even. He was instrumental in getting the council to bring internet to the city.
“At the time, what we kept hearing was we didn’t have broadband here,” he said. “People wanted that service, and nobody came to us or helped develop it.”
Barber said it was hard getting internet companies to install fiber in the area. Businesses didn’t want to come to Moultrie because it lacked internet. Internet service didn’t want to come because Moultrie lacked big business.
“When people are looking to redevelop businesses and are looking for sites, they wonder ‘Do you have fiber?’” he said. “For years, we were saying no, and we had to have that tool here”
It was a stagnant issue until 2005 when Community Network Services brought internet to Moultrie. But Barber didn’t stop. In the 14 years since, he made himself a catalyst for change out of love for his hometown.
“My knowledge in the community comes from speaking to our citizens and hearing their ideas and concerns,” he said.
Barber graduated from Colquitt County High School in 1983 and left Moultrie for Atlanta to attend Georgia Institute for Technology. There, he graduated and earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering in 1987.
He worked at a construction company in Greenville, South Carolina, until 1995 when he returned to Moultrie. He took over the family business, Barber Contracting Company, as its third-generation owner.
Two years later, 1997, Barber found himself inspired by his father, a Democratic Committee chairman, to go into politics; but he also wanted to give back to the community, so he joined the city council.
“Moultrie is just such a wonderful place to live,” Barber said. “I just want to make sure it continues to be the wonderful place that it is now.”
He put it upon himself to highlight Moultrie’s developmental potential in as many ways possible. Change doesn’t happen overnight though. Barber found that out in tackling the demolition of the Swift and Co. building.
“It was such an eyesore to North Main Street and it was there for years,” he said. “We worked hard to get grants and all to get that building torn down. It took a long time.”
The Swift and Co. building was already defunct with attempted demolition when Barber took his city council seat in ‘97. It wasn’t until 2011 when the demolition was completed.
Barber said he’s overseen two decades of change via county and city committees, including the Moultrie Colquitt County Airport Authority, Colquitt County Art Center Board, Finance and Contracts Committee, Property Planning and Growth Committee.
He continues to see change through the revitalization of downtown.
“Economic development is on the move,” Barber said. “I’m not taking credit for this; it’s just what’s happening.”
With the arrival of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s South Georgia campus, and the cooperation between the Downtown Development Authority, the county and private business, Barber said the ball is rolling.
According to him, there are plans for eight to ten loft apartments to be built within Downtown by Hal Carter Construction Inc.; replacement of the defunct Citi Trends building with a welcome center; and the creation of a scenic alley way in the demolition of the former Sportsman restaurant building.
A senior living apartment complex and a terminal for the Moultrie airport are in the works as well. Barber plans on keeping crime, tax and electric rates down if reelected.
“We need to have a presence saying ‘This is Moultrie. We are proud of our city, here’s what we’ve got,’” he said. “Things are going so good now [and] I don’t want the momentum to stop.”
Barber is a father to two college-age daughters, Victoria and Christina, and has been married to his wife, Selina, since 1995.
Rachel Weeks said Moultrie has unfulfilled needs. She sees them and refuses to shirk her responsibility to them, that’s why she’s running for the District 2 Post 4 city council position.
She’s opposed by the post’s incumbent councilman, Cecil Barber. The election will take place Nov. 5.
Weeks said her primary focus, if elected, will be the emotional wellbeing of Moultrie’s citizens. She’ll be cultivating diversity and engaging an “under-served” foster care system to do so.
“I believe that unity across cultures — across ages — is more important than any single decision the council can vote on,” she said. “If you have a person or a group of people who feel ostracized, then there must be a remedy.”
She knows this from experience too.
Weeks grew up as a “missionary kid” in Venezuela where she saw cultures blend and cooperate. She wants to see the same from those in Moultrie and to create a healthy environment for her children.
Hailing from a military family, she feels a duty of service to her community, but her upbringing in Venezuela showed her she should strive for unity amongst her peers.
“I don’t have the answers but as long as there’s a willingness to listen and a commitment to take action then we can do anything in Moultrie,” Weeks said.
Weeks said she wants to continue helping Moultrie grow out of its rural title yet keep its small town, communal charm. She wants to really put it “on the map.”
“You either grow or you stagnate,” Weeks said. “There’s no way to predict the growth, but if you look at some of our surrounding cities, you’ll see that they’ve retained their charm. They’re thriving economically and the people are very happy [too].”
Looking at cities like Thomasville, Weeks sees economic development to push in Moultrie. Her goals in doing so are increasing tourism income to create new jobs and thriving commerce.
Another is making changes in property management codes. Weeks said it’s time to re-evaluate their effectiveness and alignment with the Fourth Amendment.
“It concerns me greatly that our current property management code is negatively affecting homeowners with few resources,” she said.
Weeks said if such a homeowner were unable to pay their electric bill, they’d be forced into a mandatory inspection they must pass before reinstalling the electricity.
According to her, the homeowner could run into thousands of dollars in debt because of its findings. As for answering how to change it, Weeks said it’d be impossible to without further research.
“This is such a serious and legal matter,” she said. “I think it’d be important to consult not only with research but also with the city’s lawyer and find out what Moultrie can do legally in order to protect renters, homeowners, the city itself and the code department.”
When all that’s done, she said the answer will be clear.
Weeks first moved to Moultrie in 2013 with her husband, Dr. Woodwin Weeks, but had been visiting the city off and on with him since 2000.
She carries a bachelor’s degree in corporate communication from Emmanuel College that she received in 2003 and an unfinished degree in photography.
A bilingual mother of seven — four biological and three adopted — and grandmother of one, Weeks said she moved to her husband’s hometown because she’d always wanted roots. Moultrie was a non-negotiable destination, she said.
“We always knew we were coming back to Moultrie to raise our children,” she said. “It was inconceivable that Woody would want to move anywhere other than home.”
She’s since become her family’s primary homemaker, the manager of the rental property business, Weeks Property Group, LLC, and a teacher/tutor in Spanish.
“It’s important to remember that every citizen truly does have a duty to their community,” she said. “I see it as an exciting challenge to be in a position where I can be a liaison between all the different cultures that we have here in Moultrie.”