By Kim West
The new Athens City Council was sworn in Monday night in front of a standing-room only crowd in the municipal courtroom at the police department.
Ronnie Marks, a former District 4 councilman who became mayor in 2010 when then-Mayor Dan Williams was elected to the state Legislature, was sworn in by District Judge Jerry Batts and begins his first elected term after capturing 76.5 percent of the votes in the August municipal election.
“I have four major goals for the city,” said Marks, who plans to give a detailed presentation about taxes at the next council meeting to help quell the public backlash after the council approved a 1-cent sales tax increase effective Jan. 1, 2013. “They always include public safety – including the police and fire departments – jobs and education, and all of these comprise the quality of life here.
“You have to have these goals to build the city from within, and my charge is to bring these issues to the legislative body, and their charge is do budgets and decide on these issues.”
Clad in a grey, three-piece suit and silver-and-purple striped tie, Council President Jimmy Gill, who was first elected to the council in 1992, was sworn in for his sixth term as the District 3 representative by Municipal Judge Don Mansell, while President Pro-tem and District 2 Councilman Harold Wales was sworn in by Batts for his third term.
Former city police chief Wayne Harper was sworn in by Mansell to fill the District 5 seat left vacant by Dr. Milly Caudle, who didn’t seek re-election after six years on the council. Wearing a dark suit and a bright red tie, Chris Seibert took the oath of office from Circuit Judge Jimmy Woodroof and replaces Mignon Bowers, who also didn’t seek re-election after serving one term. Joseph Cannon also took his oath from Woodroof and takes the District 4 seat after defeating incumbent Jim Hickman.
In an uncommon move, the council decided not to make appointments for the police chief, fire chief, city attorney, city clerk, municipal judge, municipal court prosecutor and the city’s fiscal agent.
Harper introduced a motion to appoint Wales as the new council president, and the motion was approved by a vote of 3-2, with Cannon and Seibert voting no because they wanted more time to work with the council before deciding on the new leadership. The motion to appoint Jimmy Gill as the president pro-tem carried 4-1, with Harper casting the lone dissenting vote, citing a need for the city to have new leadership on the council.
The council unanimously approved the resolution to designate Compass Bank, Regions Bank, First National Bank and Edward Jones as the depositories for the city’s general fund, landfill and special revenue accounts.
Due to Veteran’s Day, the next city council meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the municipal courtroom, and the work session will be conducted prior to the meeting beginning at 4:30 p.m.