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Council to have input on mayor’s commissions

McCollar wants panels to address jobs, youth, diversity

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Council to have input on mayor’s commissions

Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar will begin introducing his transition team’s proposals for three citizen commissions soon, possibly at the next City Council meeting, he said this week.


Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar will begin introducing his transition team’s proposals for three citizen commissions soon, possibly at the next City Council meeting, he said this week.

The commissions, made up of about 12 people each, will look at different areas of concern for the long-range future of Statesboro. One of the panels will deal with job and workforce development, one with youth development and one with diversity and inclusion.

Elected last fall after campaigning with a “People over Politics” theme, McCollar took the oath of office Tuesday at the start of 2018’s first City Council meeting. Issues and actions carried over from last year filled that meeting. He made a general appeal for unity, but the proposed citizen panels were not yet on the agenda.

“We’ve been working through that with the transition team,” McCollar said when asked after the meeting. “I’m excited about that. It is our hope that we’ll have the first of those commissions ready for the January 16 meeting for the council to review and to discuss.”

Proposals for the commissions will be introduced one at a time so as not to be overbearing on City Council, he said.

 

Council input

The group McCollar calls his transition team has been working on plans for the commissions since the Nov. 7 city election. After saying in November that he planned to present the commissions to the elected City Council for adoption, McCollar said Tuesday that the council will be involved in creating the commissions.

“First we wanted to establish what each commission will be doing,” he said. “Then we want the (City) Council to say, ‘Well, OK, we think this needs to be added or taken away,’ and then the next thing that we wanted to be able to do is create the process in which individuals will be chosen.”

McCollar and his transition team want Statesboro’s “best and brightest” to serve on the panels but also “to make sure everybody in the community has the opportunity to cooperate,” he said.

The transition team, with 14 members as of December, has considered who should serve on each panel, McCollar and transition team chair April M. Schueths, Ph.D., have indicated.

“We’ve had ideas, and all of that will be presented to the council as to who we think would be some good individuals, or what type of individuals we think would be good for that, but at the end of the day we want the best and the brightest,” McCollar said.

 

Transition chair

Schueths attended Tuesday’s meeting and brief swearing-in ceremony with her 9-year-old daughter, who is friends with one of McCollar’s daughters. Schueths, an associate professor of sociology at Georgia Southern University, is also a mental health therapist with a small private practice in Statesboro. She and her husband, who is also a Georgia Southern sociology faculty member, moved here from Lincoln, Nebraska, eight years ago.

“Originally I was kind of a little bit hesitant about Statesboro, but I’ve really come to love this community and in large part because of Jonathan’s vision for what it can be,” Schueths said.

Both she and her daughter took part in campaigning for McCollar before he asked Schueths to lead the transition team.

The team has developed mission statements for the commissions, she said.

“We’ve finished up the mission statements and we’re trying to figure out our selection process, and so we’ll be coming forth the next month or two with recommendations,” Schueths said.

City staff members have been supportive so that the first proposal could be presented Jan. 16, but this wasn’t certain yet, McCollar said.

McCollar, 43, holds a master’s degree in public administration from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. He is now assistant campus director at Georgia Southern’s Liberty Campus in Hinesville. Previously an Armstrong State University campus, it became part of Georgia Southern when the consolidation of the two universities took effect Monday.

 

Historic change

With his swearing-in Tuesday, McCollar became the first African-American mayor of Statesboro, founded in 1803 and incorporated as a city in 1866.

A 2016 U.S. Census Bureau survey indicated that 42.9 percent of Statesboro’s estimated 30,597 residents are “black or African-American.” Census data since the 2010 census, when 37.3 percent of Statesboro residents identified as black or African-American, show a demographic change.

But McCollar’s becoming mayor increases the number of black elected officials in the city government from one to two, among a total of six elected officials.

The other black official is District 2 Councilman Sam Lee Jones. After Tuesday morning’s meeting, Jones said he feels that they both are “team players” with the interests of citizens at heart.

“Like Jonathan said, it was an exciting day,” Jones said. “He handled it well the first time sitting in the chair as mayor. We expected him to do good things, and so he has not surprised us. I’m looking forward to working with Jonathan to move Statesboro forward.”

 

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

 

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