New Warner Robins Mayor LaRhonda Patrick discusses role

LaRhonda Patrick made history last November as the first Black woman to be elected mayor of Warner Robins, defeating incumbent Randy Toms in a runoff.

The Warner Robins native and attorney said she plans to follow-up on her campaign promises, focusing on “innovation, new industry and community involvement.”

“There’s a lot of pride behind that first for me,” she said. “I understand with ‘first’ comes pressure and of course there’s pressure because everybody is watching. I opened the door for whoever fits the first category I am in right now, but I have to make sure that door stays open. So it’s pressure to make sure I’m performing in a way that will allow others to walk through that door as well.”

Patrick said it’s important to ensure the Warner Robins community is more involved in what’s happening at city hall. She plans to hold forums, public meetings and other events to absorb community input and address concerns.

She also wants to celebrate what makes living in Warner Robins fun with a festivals, food truck events, live music and, this December, a Christmas parade down Watson Boulevard.

“When we do our development of downtown and the city center we’ve been wanting for decades, there will be green space to have whatever it is we’d like to do, like an amphitheater,” she said. “Until then, we’ll be fulfilling the need of community events with spaces that already exist.”

Patrick said she will spend her first month in office watching how the city operates, and plans to start implementing changes in February. She plans to hold pre-council meetings, open to the public, to discuss the city council meeting agenda as part of a commitment to transparency.

“I ran on [transparency], I believe in it and I will operate in that way,” she said. “There’s not much that happens in a city that is confidential. So I want to make sure people start actually noticing that there’s open communication with the public on things going on at the city level.”

Public safety is a concern, Patrick said, and she has plans to work with the city’s police department on a potential joint program with Macon-Bibb County.

“I believe we all agree that safety is not an option for the city of Warner Robins,” she said. “Just because [violent crime] continues to rise in other places, doesn’t mean we have to accept that it will rise here too.

“We will be hopefully working together to bring forth some new ideas to help solve our issue when it comes to the increase in crime. I think there’s a lot of opportunities for us to work together and kind of combine forces in our ideas to come up with something new and fresh.”

In November, the IRS filed an almost $800,000 tax lien against the city, filing issues dating back to 2015. Patrick said she has not been briefed on the current status of the tax lien but will update the public when that information is available after an internal investigation.

‘Supportive from day one’

A Northside High School alumna, Patrick furthered her education at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and earned her law degree from North Carolina Central University in Durham.

When she’s not fulfilling her mayoral duties, Patrick interests include being an attorney, with a background in corporate law and government procurement law; she enjoys helping out in the community. She also has a hobby of crocheting gifts for friends and family.

She is a proud wife to her husband Aaron Patrick, a retired army officer, and mother to her 4-year-old son, Layne.

“My husband was ecstatic and supportive from day one,” she said. “Layne doesn’t understand that significance. But he does understand the significance of being a woman at one point. He tells everyone at his school that Mommy won the mayor race.”

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