GARLAND — With 2017 ending soon, community members will see new faces on the Board of Commissioners.
A ceremony to welcome them is scheduled for Dec. 12 at Town Hall, 190 S. Church St.,Garland. Monthly meetings for the board begin at 6:30 p.m. During the meeting, newly elected commissioners will take oaths.
Austin Brown is joining the board for the first time and at age 22, he’s going to became the youngest resident elected to the board. As a commissioner, some of his goals is to improve infrastructure, upgrade buildings and assist with progress with the Curtis D. Cain Memorial Park.
Eddie Bronson Jr. will be another new commissioner to the board. Like Brown, he applied when a vacancy became open, but he did not receive enough votes from commissioners to join the board. With more than 20 years of law enforcement experience, Bronson said he wanted to help with public safety and the recreation committee.
During previous meetings, Mayor Winifred Murphy made a suggestion to have the event at Garland First Baptist Church, to accommodate more people and voters. She said the meeting space for the board only holds 49 people, but more than 300 people voted in the November election.
“I think our citizens deserve to come out and see that we’re all working together,” she said. “That’s what I’ll continue to strive for.”
Her request to hold the meeting at the building on Fourth Street was turned down twice by commissioners. It was stressed that residents are always welcome to attend meetings at Town Hall.
“I was hoping that we could come together in unity,” Murphy said about taking up the church’s offer. “There was so many people that voted for all of us.”
While referring to conflicts regarding politics, She added that residents were tired of the negativity — an issues she thinks will probably continue. Along with new commissioners, Murphy said she would like to recognize all board members who served Garland.
Mayor Pro-Tem Haywood Johnson and Carolyn Melvin will not return to the board and will be replaced by Brown and Bronson. Johnson was unsuccessful with a run for the mayoral seat and Melvin did not refile. Commissioner Ralph Smith also ran for mayor, but did not win after Murphy received the most votes. After resigning and being appointed in 2017, Smith will continue his work along with incumbents S.J. Smith and Lee Carberry.
Murphy, the town’s first women and black mayor, will be sworn in for another term after being elected in 2013. She was elected in 2011 and was appointed to become the mayor in 2012. With Johnson leaving, the commission is also set to pick a new mayor pro-tem.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.