After a combined 62 years of service to Hinesville, two City Council members and the mayor are saying farewell.
The Dec. 17 City Council meeting was the last for Mayor Jim Thomas, District 1 Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Charles Frasier and District 3 Councilman David Anderson Sr. They were recognized for their dedication to the city and their roles on the council.
Thomas thanked everyone for supporting him over the last eight years during his mayor’s report. The city charger limits mayors to two consecutive terms.
“And it has been a pleasure working with you and working for you,” he said.
Thomas went on to thank the city’s staff, saying it was the best in the state, in his opinion.
Those in the council chamber gave a standing ovation to Thomas after he finished.
Thomas was Hinesville’s first African-American mayor, elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. Before that, he was the chairman of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission and is a veteran of both the U.S. Marine Corps and Army.
Tokens of appreciation were given from city organizations and staff to the councilmen and mayor throughout the meeting.
Other council members talked about their relationships with the men, focusing on mentorship, inside jokes and respecting one another, even when they did not always agree.
District 5 Councilman Kenneth Shaw said it had been a good challenge working with Thomas.
“I have learned a lot from him and also, he will put you back in your place there,” Shaw said as Thomas laughed. “He has kept me straight plenty times and I would like to say that I will never forget you and forget what you’ve done and taught me to become a better councilman.”
“It has been a great challenge there, I mean a challenge,” Shaw said of Frasier, to laughter. “We haven’t always seen eye to eye on everything. But when it come down to the business there of the city, we sit down and we communicate together and do what’s best for the city.”
District 4 Councilman Keith Jenkins said Thomas was a role model and that they would discuss topics in the mayor’s office late into the night.
“But you’d sit down and you’d talk to me. You’d try to guide me, and you would encourage me in a lot of things. And so for that, I am very grateful for you,” Jenkins said.
A veteran of the Vietnam War with the Air Force, Frasier went on to become the first African-American elected to the council. Prior to his 1987 election, he served on the Hinesville Planning and Zoning Commission, including as its chairman.
Frasier is ending his last council term after an unsuccessful bid for mayor.
“Listen. It’s been 28 years here, y’all. But it wasn’t quite long enough, and I have to blame Allen Brown for that,” he said to laughter.
Mayor-elect Allen Brown beat Frasier in a runoff election for mayor Dec. 1.
“I also congratulate you for being elected to mayor, the next mayor for the city of Hinesville,” Frasier said to Brown, who was in the audience.
Frasier talked about how he first decided to run for council and that he still remembered his first day in that position. He said 28 years did not seem so long to him because he has enjoyed what he does.
Frasier said he did not know what he will do next.
“But what I would tell you is that I will always be available to do what I can for the continued growth of the city of Hinesville and, of course, for Liberty County,” he said.
At the end of the meeting, Frasier was given a coin as an award of excellence from the Liberty County Branch of the NAACP for his work.
A retired U.S. Army sergeant major and Vietnam veteran, Anderson has sat on the council for 16 years. He also served as the chairman of the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee.
During his report, Anderson said he and Frasier were still going to continue to follow what goes on in the city and the council. Anderson talked about his relationships with each of the other council members.
“We appreciate each and every one of them and working with each and every one of them,” Anderson said.
State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, announced at the end of the meeting that he will be presenting Thomas, Frasier and Anderson to the Georgia House for recognition in the upcoming session.
The swearing-in ceremony for the new mayor and council members will be Jan. 4.