Who was re-elected
• Nancy Aspinwall, probate court judge
• Leon Braun Jr., state court judge
• Melinda Anderson, chief magistrate
• J. Don Martin, sheriff
• F. Barry Wilkes, superior court clerk
• Virgil Jones, tax commissioner
• Reginald Pierce Sr., coroner
• Jeffery Osteen, solicitor general
• John McIver, county commission chair, District 7
• Pat Bowen, county commissioner, District 4
• Eddie Walden, county commissioner, District 6
• Charlie Frasier, school board, District 2
• Carol Guyett, school board, District 3
“Liberty County, believe me when I say, you have a voice downtown, and you can rest assure that I’ll listen to you, and if need be, I’ll speak up for you,” he said.
Thirteen elected officials took their oath before a full house of local citizens, family and friends during the county’s inaugural swearing-in ceremony Monday evening at the Liberty County Board of Education building.
Only Gilliard and school board member Verdell Jones are new to their posts.
In her remarks, Jones admitted that the Liberty County School System has some obstacles to tackle, citing budget cuts, low test scores, and a swell of soldiers and family members coming here by the thousands.
“Now, I’m a little bit nervous but I’m not afraid,” Jones said. “And let me share something with you: Nerves will wear off.”
Instead of shying away from challenges, Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver said he and others welcome the tasks ahead.
“We’re looking forward to having great things for Liberty County,” McIver said, citing new programs and construction projects. “But it’s for all of our good, doing what’s best for the citizens.”
Elected officials listen to everyone, not just special-interest groups, according to McIver.
“We work together as a county because there is nothing that one of us can do that does not affect this whole county,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the commanding officer of Fort Stewart’s 3rd Infantry Division, agreed soldiers and their families are in some way subject to the officials’ decisions.
Speaking on behalf of the post, however, he said the officials have their “full confidence and full support as you go about execution of your duties.”
“Part of making history is not standing on the sidelines,” he told the officials before they took an oath.
He said public service takes “great, persistent energy and incredible patience.”
“We shouldn’t take for granted their public service. … Believe me, they can all be doing something else,” Cucolo said.
And Gilliard believed he made history, calling himself “the next generation of leadership.”
“While Martin Luther King may have had a dream, I believe I have a mission,” said the project manager for Hinesville’s public works contractor, CH2M Hill/OMI.
“I believe my mission is to help ensure a level playing field for all.We must not ever sacrifice principle for prosperity.”
Gilliard’s shout-outs to family and friends included a thumbs-up to former commissioner Kenny Fussell for his service, calling him a “legend in local politics.”
“The way this district (District 5) gerrymanders through the county would make a snake jealous,” Gillard said. “But Kenny was elected in spite of the lines, district and racial.”
Jones was a BoE newcomer, but has served an appointed position on the Liberty County Hospital Authority for more than 10 years.
Proving her passion, Jones told citizens her favorite sound is hearing children on the playground.
“It’s the sound of hope,” Jones said. “It’s the sound of people who can’t take care of themselves and don’t care about anything else.”
Jones’ words stirred Mariel Bacon, a teacher at Midway Middle School.
“As far as her saying her first love is the children — that’s what counts the most,” Bacon said.
Robert Robbins said he looked forward to good things from Jones and Gilliard.
“I’m quite sure I’ll see some change, some positive change,” Robbins said. “I was impressed with their positive attitude and the fact that they’re willing to work for change and the betterment of the community.”