Edmondson makes history as LaGrange’s first Black mayor, defeats Arrington in tight race

Published 10:06 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023

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By Olivia Johnson & Tommy Murphy

W.T. Edmondson defeated Jim Arrington in the special election for mayor of LaGrange, becoming the first Black mayor of the city.

Edmondson won the race with 1,850 votes (54.99%) over Arrington’s 1,514 (45.01%), winning by a margin of nearly 10 percentage points.

Edmondson took an early lead from early voting earning 824 compared to Arrington’s 678. That margin held up all night, despite Arrington winning the Hollis Hand district decisively. Edmondson won five of the seven precincts for mayor.

“I feel as if I am ready for the challenge. I have been doing the work for a long time, not as mayor but as a councilman for a long time,” Edmondson said. “Now as the mayor of the city of LaGrange, we’ll be setting the agenda and making sure we have everything we need for Districts 1 and 2.”

Edmondson said he plans to increase the quality of life in both districts, complete The Thread, bring in new attractions to increase tourism and create an African American museum in LaGrange.

“LaGrange is strong. We have history of all kinds. LaGrange is diverse and we want to make sure everyone is represented,” Edmondson said.

Edmondson said LaGrange was going to be in great hands no matter where the votes ended up.

“I was wondering if LaGrange was going to vote for experience or color. This is a prime example that we did not vote based on color. We voted for the most qualified person. My opponent called me a little while ago, and I was so thankful. Jim is a great guy and I hope that he will run again for a seat on the council,” Edmondson said.   

“I want to make sure I finish out the term of the mayor and make sure I finish out some of the work the past mayor did, and I know that I am the man for the job,” Edmondson said.

Edmondson said he feels grateful for those who voted for him, those who financially supported him and even those who didn’t.

“I want to earn their respect, I want to earn their support because together we can make this city what it should be,” Edmondson said.

Arrington called Edmondson to congratulate him on his victory shortly after the results were revealed. He said he was disappointed with the results but noted Edmondson will be a good mayor.

“I’m just disappointed in the voter turnout. I gave my all and I left it in the hands of the voters,” Arrington said. “This is what the voters voted for.”

Arrington said he knew the race would be closer than his supporters expected, but he was a bit surprised by the vote.

“Folks just felt like I had it,” Arrington said, saying he spoke to supporters the previous night who hadn’t voted thinking they didn’t need to.

Arrington also confirmed he would seek his former city council seat. The former councilman had to resign his District 1 council seat to qualify to run for mayor.

“At this moment, my plan is to run for my council seat again,” Arrington said.