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Decatur Commission will elect mayor, mayor pro tem on Jan. 3

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Decatur Commission will elect mayor, mayor pro tem on Jan. 3

Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett. Photo obtained via http://pattigarrett.net/

Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett. Photo obtained via http://pattigarrett.net/

Decatur’s City Commission will elect the city’s mayor and mayor pro tem for 2017 at its regular meeting on Jan. 3.

Unlike many Georgia cities, Decatur’s mayor is elected by fellow-commissioners instead of being elected in a citywide election. Commissioners unanimously elected Patti Garrett as mayor in 2016, and commissioner Fred Boykin as Mayor Pro Tem.

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The mayor presides over city meetings and is the ceremonial head of government. The position pays $6,000 a year, compared with the traditional commissioner’s salary of $4,800. The mayor pro tem fills in for the mayor when she is unavailable.

The day-to-day operations of city government are handled by the city manager.

Garrett said she’d like to continue as mayor.

“I have asked for support to be mayor in 2017,” she said.

Boykin would like to be reelected as well.

“I’ve asked the other commissioners to reelect me as mayor pro tem and all have said yes,” Boykin said. “But nothing’s dead certain until after the vote, right?”

Perhaps not, but the commission’s trend in recent years has been to reelect the same mayor and mayor pro tem until the commissioner holding the job leaves the commission.

Garrett succeeded Jim Baskett, who decided not to run for his commission seat again. Baskett had the job since 2013, and he succeeded Bill Floyd, who was mayor from 1999 to 2013. The previous Mayor Pro Tem, Kecia Cunningham, held that job from 2013 until she resigned in 2015. Baskett had held the mayor pro tem’s job since 2002 before becoming mayor to replace Floyd.

City Manager Peggy Merriss once observed that Decatur’s way of handling the election of mayor is also a consensus-building exercise.

“I think the beauty of our form of electing the mayor … is the very first thing a person who wants to be mayor has to do has to get two other people to agree with him or her,” Merriss said. “You can’t come into your first meeting … with your long personalized agenda, because annually you have to have that consensus. The art of building consensus is something they cherish and find to be very important and I think that makes a difference in how the community agendas go forward, their personal relationships go forward. Here, I think that is a real boost for us.”

In other business on Tuesday, commissioners will consider a $16,000 contract to upgrade security on the doors at city hall.

A memo from assistant city manager David Junger to the commission says, “Greg Reihing, Facilities Security Coordinator, has conducted a security assessment of the Decatur City Hall facility and he recommends adding additional door hardware to three doors in City Hall to improve the security of the building. Mr. Reihing worked with Felix Floyd, Facility Superintendent, to develop the scope of work to provide improved security on the front interior doors of City Hall, adding additional hardware to the existing rear doors and adding hardware to the Revenue Office door which will allow it to be added to the city’s electronic access control system. All of the upgrades will allow facilities management to set timed locking schedules to allow normal traffic through the front entrance during business hours, but default to a locked status with a keycode backup during nighttime hours.”

The City Commission meeting begins with a work session at 6:45 p.m. The regular meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at City Hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street. All meetings are open to the public.

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