George Israel

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George M. Israel, III
Mayor of Macon, Georgia
In office
1980–1987
Preceded by Buck Melton
Succeeded by Lee Robinson
Personal details
Born 1948
Bibb County, Georgia
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Pam Israel
Religion Christian


George M. Israel, III (born 1948) is the current president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and is a former mayor of Macon, Georgia (1979–1987), the sixth largest city in the state. He is also on the board of directors of YKK Group. In 2005, Georgia Trend, a prominent state business and political magazine, named Israel as one of its top 20 leaders of the past 20 years.

Early life[edit]

Israel was born to George and Margaret Israel in rural Bibb County, Georgia. His father worked as an engineer at Robins Air Force Base and his mother was a teacher who helped veterans returning from World War II to earn their GEDs. He grew up in a tight-knit family with three brothers and an aunt whom he considered a second mother.[1]

He met his wife, Pam, while working to pay his way through college, and they married in 1971. They have two children: Katie Beth and Matthew, and thee granddaughters, Greta Layson, 15, (daughter of Katie Beth and her ex-husband Brian Layson), Kiya Israel,7, (daughter of Matthew and his wife Kirstin), and Matilda "Tille" Israel, 1, (daughter of Matthew and wife Kirstin).[1][2]

Education and early career[edit]

Israel attended Middle Georgia College in Cochran and the University of Georgia in Athens. However he never graduated and holds no degree. He began his career as an underwriter for the life, health and accident insurance industry.[1][2]

Political career[edit]

In 1975, he made a sudden announcement to his family that he planned to run for a seat on the Macon City Council. Israel went door-to-door in his district to gain support for his run. A Republican in Jimmy Carter's Georgia, Israel's run for city council seemed a long shot, but he won the seat.[1]

Israel was elected to the Macon City Council in 1975.[3] He became a frequent critic of then Mayor Buck Melton.[3] However, Israel later credited Melton for laying the foundation for much of the progress achieved during Israel's own tenure as the city's mayor, "I was probably his biggest critic on City Council...I spent my eight years (as mayor) apologizing to him for not understanding."[3] Israel further praised his predecessor saying in 2014, "He had a vision for the city and changed a lot of things."[3]

Mayor Buck Melton declined to seek a second term in 1979. Just four years after winning his first election, Israel was elected mayor of Macon in 1979, the second Republican to have won the position, the first having been the flamboyant Ronnie Thompson in 1967. Israel's success has often been attributed to the beginnings of the growth of the Reagan coalition in Georgia and the rest of the American South. He served as the state chairman of Ronald Reagan's reelection campaign and was himself reelected to the mayoral post in Macon in 1984. Israel's reelection was considerably achieved more on his merits and successes in his first term than was his first election. As a mayor, he was known for his fiscal conservatism, integrity and bi-partisan attitude.[1][4]

At the end of his second term as mayor in 1987, Israel was considered a serious contender for Governor of Georgia[by whom?]. However, Israel instead decided to return to the business sector.[1][4]

Business career[edit]

Following his retirement from politics, Israel became president and CEO of the Potomac Corporation, a European venture capital firm. From 1990 to 1994 he served as CEO of Fickling and Walker, a real estate company, and in 1994 he left to become CEO of the privately held Secure Health Plans of Georgia. Israel currently sits on the board of directors for YKK. He was appointed chairman and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in 2002 and is the current holder of the post.[1][2][4]

Israel was chosen by Georgia Trend Magazine as the 2006 GEORGIAN OF THE YEAR[5] He has also served as chair of the Macon Chamber of Commerce and the Macon Economic Development Commission, and has also several other business and community leadership committees. He has been appointed to several state advisory boards including State of Georgia Commission on Privatization, the Georgia Military Affairs Committee and the Southern Growth Policies Board.[2][6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Coppola, Vincent (January 2006). "The Gospel According To George Israel". Georgia Trend. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d "George Israel Biography". American Justice Partnership. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  3. ^ a b c d Fabian, Liz (2014-03-06). "Melton lauded for helping shape ‘the modern era in Macon’". The Telegraph (Macon). Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  4. ^ a b c Grillo, Jerry; Susan Percy; Shannon Wilder; Ben Young; Michele Cohen Marill; Krista Reese (September 2005). "20 Years, 20 Leaders". Georgia Trend. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  5. ^ Georgia Trend Magazine
  6. ^ "Governor Perdue Swears in Military Affairs Coordinating Committee" (Press release). Office of the Governor. 2003-08-22. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 


Political offices
Preceded by
Buck Melton
Mayor of Macon, Georgia

George Israel
1980–1987

Succeeded by
Lee Robinson