Council members attend state convention

Published 10:37 pm Thursday, June 29, 2017

Members of the LaGrange City Council returned to town from the 2017 Georgia Municipal Association Convention just in time for the regular council meeting on Tuesday, but the return came with mixed feelings for two of the council members who do not plan to seek reelection this fall.

“It has been kind of emotional because of my decision not to seek reelection, and so this for all critical purposes is my last summer GMA convention as a member of the LaGrange City Council,” Councilwoman Norma Tucker said. “To have the opportunity to be celebrated for five years of service with the GMA training board and be recognized for two years service as the training board chair — for me this seems like the right time (to step down).”

Longtime councilmember Nick Woodson also enjoyed his final year at the conference, but he too felt that it was time to pass the torch on to next group of councilmembers.

“I got a little nostalgic getting on the boat to come back to the hotel, and just all of a sudden we thought this may be the last time we come across here,” Woodson said. “It is time to let some of these young folks have it.”

Both councilmembers have seen LaGrange progress dramatically during their time in office and were confident that it will continue progressing under whoever LaGrange’s citizens select to take their seats in November.

“I’ve had so many highs, all highs from start to finish,” Tucker said. “When I first came on in 2006, a couple months later we got the announcement that Kia was coming, and now in 2017 by the end of this year we will have the downtown Courtyard by Marriot completed and Great Wolf resort soon. To see all of these positive things continue to happen in our community, it lets me know that everything is going to be alright in LaGrange whether I’m here or not, and I am just excited to feel that I’ve had some kind of positive impact on the community.”

The city of LaGrange was one of the founding members of the Georgia Municipal Association, which makes it easier for cities throughout the state to talk about the problems that they face and what solutions are and are not working. Leaders from the City of LaGrange are regular speakers at the conference, sharing ideas that are working in LaGrange with the rest of the state

“There are 535 cities in Georgia, and they are almost all members of GMA,” Mayor Jim Thornton said. “This year Norma and I have both been on the board. She has been head of the training, and I have been head of the Government Policy Committee. The Municipal Government Policy Committee basically deals with city issues that go before the Georgia General Assembly, and so this session I chaired two sessions. One was on municipal broadband and deploying broadband internet service into communities. We are fortunate in LaGrange to have pretty good internet service, but most cities in the state are not as lucky as we are. The other session that I chaired was about cyber immunity or liability issues affecting the city.”

The council has found the discussions and sessions at GMA helpful as they work to continue to move the city forward.

“You learn a lot from other cities your size talking to them about what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong,” Woodson said. “Most of them are usually asking us for advice.”

Tucker especially will be missed at GMA next year because of all the work that she has done over the years to make each conference even better through her work on the conference training board.

“She is a clear-headed person, and she has represented us at GMA so well, and I have been so proud of her,” Councilman Willie Edmondson said. “I’ve gone in meetings, and she has been the chairperson who is chairing the actual meetings. She also had the GMA training committee come here to LaGrange, and it just means so much when you have someone in her position that does that. Those are going to be some big shoes to fill.”

Tucker had been hesitant to step down from her position on the city council due to a desire to see another woman on the council if she left. She is currently the only woman on the city council, so she expressed her desire at Tuesday’s meeting for the women of LaGrange to step up and become engaged with local government.

“To all the women here and to all the women watching the tape (of the council meeting) later, please consider running for the LaGrange City Council,” Tucker said.

“Get involved, get engaged and continue to serve the community. It has been a blessing. Thank you everyone for your support and your encouragement.”

The next meeting of the LaGrange City Council with be held on July 25 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Ave.