Hinesville’s City Council members and new mayor were sworn into office at City Hall at noon Monday in front of a council chamber packed with dignitaries, city workers, family members and friends.
The Hinesville Police Department color guard presented the colors, and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Several local religious leaders were asked to lead prayers throughout the ceremony, including Bishop Paul Johnson, the Rev. Dale Thornton, Father Adam Kasela, the Rev. Richie Williams, Pastor Aaron Cowart and Pastor Richard Hayes.
After the five council members where sworn in by Liberty County Probate Court Judge Nancy Aspinwall, each gave a statement, some longer than others.
District 1 Councilwoman Diana Reid said during her remarks that it was a historic day.
“Today is a historic day as Councilwoman Vicky Nelson and I are being sworn in as the first African-American women to serve on the Hinesville City Council,” Reid said. “And for this I’m honored, and I consider it a privilege.”
Reid said it was also an honor to serve in the same district seat as former Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier.
District 2 Councilman Jason Floyd said he feels honored to serve in the same district where he was raised and is currently raising his daughter. He thanked voters for re-electing him and pledged to always do his best to vote his conscious.
District 3 Councilwoman Vicky Nelson became a little choked up when thanking her family. She also thanked the residents of her district for voting for her, saying they will not be disappointed.
District 4 Councilman Keith Jenkins, who ran unopposed during the election, thanked his family and said that he hoped to continue some of the work the council had started.
Jenkins said the city’s diversity and the spirit of cooperation are what make him feel great about Hinesville.
District 5 Councilman Kenneth Shaw said he was “humbled and honored” that the district continued to put their trust and faith in him.
After prayers for unification, Allen Brown was sworn in as mayor of Hinesville, having previously served from 1992-99.
Brown said he wanted to work on lowering property taxes and getting the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, to pass this year.
“That’s important to a community like ours, a very progressive community like our city and our county here,” he said. “We must get it passed, but we must have it passed with a transparent plan for what we’re going to do with the money.”
After the ceremony, when asked what his biggest challenge was going to be this year — after mentioning SPLOST in his speech — Brown said SPLOST may be it.
“That will be a big challenge. It lost for the first time ever here. There are people that are just totally against taxes, but it’s a tax that we really need in this community,” Brown said. “And as we grow businesses like we’re beginning to do, more of that money will be paid by people from out of town. So we’ve got to educate the public to that issue and spend the money in a very clear and concise way.”