Brooklet’s mayor-elect said he is eager to get to work come January, hoping to restore faith in the Brooklet City Council, repair wounds in the city’s police department and reorganize with the goal of making Brooklet an even better place to live.
Joseph Grooms III, who edged out challenger Charlie Howell by seven votes to fill a position to be vacated by current Mayor William Hendrix, said he plans to improve transparency, encourage community involvement and correct what many consider to be flaws in the current Brooklet city government.
“I knew William Hendrix was not going to run, and I wanted to step in as a citizen of Brooklet” and run for office, he said in an interview before the Nov. 5 election. “People who live here have a very strong vision and care about the community and helping each other.”
Following a period when Brooklet has been plagued with police issues and contrast between council members and citizens, Grooms hopes to bring unity back to the fold. The town’s residents and business owners deserve more input, he said.
“There is a separation, a gulf between citizens and council that got in the way of people going to meetings.”
Grooms hopes to encourage people to attend the council meetings, speak up and be heard by council members. He said he wants to see Brooklet grow in positive ways, with “more openness, transparency and (an end to) things done wrongly.”
He plans on seeking input and advice from “other agencies in Bulloch County who have been successful with policing.” He praised the current police department and said they are “not doing a terrible job” but hopes to impart on officers the characteristics and values he feels Brooklet wants to represent.
In the past several years, Brooklet has experienced publicly exposed incidents of misconduct by officers and a former chief, and Grooms hopes to erase that stigma over the town. He wants the council to work more closely with police.
Budgets are a major focus as well, and Grooms said he expects to be “tight” with taxpayers’ money.
“We are going to focus on expenditures and needs, including the city water system, which needs upgrading,” he said, adding that city leaders should also examine annexation and make sure suggested moves do not negatively impact the town and its infrastructure.
A lead lineman with Canoochee EMC for 14 years, Grooms is no stranger to Brooklet and its people; his father, Joe Grooms, was once the town’s mayor for several years. He said his father instilled in him what is expected of a mayor and taught him how to work for what the residents of the town need.
He has lived in Brooklet for 54 years, ever since he was a year old, he said. A Southeast Bulloch High School graduate, he and wife Sheri have a daughter and three grandchildren.
He said he has always been part of Brooklet and looks forward to being even more involved. Grooms said he hopes more residents will attend council meetings and become involved in city business as well.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.