Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett presides over last meetingDecatur Mayor Jim Baskett. File photo.
When it came time to say goodbye, Mayor Jim Baskett didn’t know what to say.
“I thought after 20 years, I would know what I wanted to say at a moment like this,” Baskett said at the end of the Dec. 21 City Commission meeting. “I tried to write something today, but it didn’t come. All I wanted to say is thanks to you all.”
The outgoing mayor said considerably more than that, thanking fellow commissioners and city staff. Unlike other cities, Decatur’s mayor is selected by fellow commissioners. Baskett was elected as the city’s at-large commissioner in 1995, and was selected as mayor in 2013 after Bill Floyd resigned his commission seat. He served as mayor pro tem from 2002 to 2012.
Baskett is a graduate of the Candler School of Theology and studied social ethics and political thought at Emory University, his official biography says. He lives with his wife, Miche, in the city’s South Candler Historic District, his biography says.
He decided not to run for reelection this year and will be replaced by Tony Powers, co-owner at Intown Ace Hardware and chair of the city Planning Commission.
The mayor’s voice croaked with emotion as he gave his heartfelt farewell.
“I want to say thank you to my constituents who have shown a long-time confidence in me that’s very humbling,” Baskett said. “My daughter said, ‘Why don’t you say that at your victory speech 20 years ago you said I hope I don’t embarrass all of you?’ … I’m not sure that I haven’t embarrassed some of you on occasion. There haven’t been any major scandals.”
Commissioners shared their own fond memories of Baskett’s tenure. Commissioner Fred Boykin was elected in 2001.
“Jim, this kind of the end of an era,” Boykin said. “I’ve served with you quite a long time. I’ve always admired your ability to look at the details and go over the numbers and I’ve always felt comfortable that you were doing your homework and keeping up with it, and if anybody was going to find something that wasn’t correct or was a bit askew that you were going to go into the details and find it. I’ve appreciated your honesty. I’ve appreciated your commitment. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.”
“You’ve been a great mayor,” Commissioner Scott Drake said. “Hopefully you’ll come and voice your opinion. Enjoy your Monday nights.”
Baskett promised he wouldn’t completely disappear.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Baskett said. “I wasn’t born here, but there’s not many people that have been around as long as I have. I’m a Decatur son.”
Editor’s note: Due to a prior conflict, Decaturish was unable to attend Monday’s meeting. This report was produced by watching the live broadcast of the meeting.