After handily winning re-election over a challenger in November, Jonathan McCollar began his second four-year term as mayor of Statesboro with a swearing-in ceremony at the start of Tuesday morning’s council meeting.
Bulloch County Probate Court Judge Lorna DeLoach administered the oath of office for McCollar, District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum and District 4 Councilman John Riggs.
Riggs, who also faced a challenger but won re-election with just under 60% of the district’s participating votes Nov. 2, is the longest-serving council member and now starting a fourth four-year term, and so his 13th year on the council. Boyum, who was unopposed for re-election in 2021, is beginning his 10th year as a council member.
McCollar made brief remarks about his transition from a first to a second term during the “other business from City Council” time in the agenda.
“I do want to take this opportunity to first say that it’s been an honor for me to serve in this capacity and to serve the city of Statesboro and the people of Statesboro for the past four years,” he said. “The past four years we’ve seen a tremendous amount of progress within the city, and that’s been because, I believe, we have a council and a staff and team that’s dedicated to moving this community forward.”
‘Unique time period’
But meanwhile, he added, everyone has been living in “a very unique time period.”
“When myself, Phil and John were sworn in four years ago, we were sworn in without a single mask in the building,” McCollar said. “Four years later, we are masked up because our nation is still dealing with a pandemic. …”
He noted Bulloch County’s cumulative death toll from COVID-19, as of Monday, was 225 people, a figure that includes officially “probable” as well as confirmed cases where COVID was the cause.
As he has done many times in the past two years, McCollar urged people to take all available precautions to protect themselves and their families.
City Hall is hosting another free vaccination clinic this Saturday, Jan. 8, from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. with support from the Bulloch County Health Department. First and second shots and booster shots will be available, but $50 gift cards are offered as incentives for first and second shots only, not boosters.
The city government is also working with Squashing the Spread Bulloch County to host a virtual question and answer panel called “COVID-19 and Our Community’s Children” Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. Details appear in a separate story.
Change of pro tem
2020-22 Mayor Pro Tempore Paulette Chavers, who is the council member from District 2, had convened Monday’s meeting before McCollar was sworn in to his new term. After the oaths of office were administered and with McCollar returned to the mayor’s chair, the first item of business was the election, by the council members from among themselves, of a mayor pro tem for the next two years.
Riggs first offered a motion to nominate Boyum. But council members traditionally do not second their own nomination, and Boyum did not. When no other councilmember seconded, McCollar asked for another nomination. District 3 Councilwoman Venus Mack then made the motion to nominate District 5 Councilwoman Shari Barr. Chavers seconded, and with only ayes heard on the voice vote, City Clerk Leah Harden counted the decision unanimous.
“I’m happy to serve,” was Barr’s brief comment when asked after the meeting how she felt about the new role.
In her two years as pro tem, Chavers stood in for McCollar at a few events and meetings he could not attend, but he had no extended absences. One year ago, on Jan. 5, 2021, when as McCollar later acknowledged he had tested positive for COVID-19 the previous day, he attended the first regular council meeting of the year via Zoom teleconferencing while Chavers presided in person as mayor pro tem.
Interviewed after Tuesday’s meeting, Riggs said he believes all the council members should have a chance to serve as mayor pro tem and for this reason had nominated Boyum. But for the same reason, Riggs added, he was pleased with the choice of Barr.
Barr, Chavers and Mack, all first elected in 2019 and sworn in for four-year terms in January 2020, are now in the middle of those terms and so were not part of Tuesday’s ceremony.
As the three re-elected city officials, McCollar, Boyum and Riggs all had family members attend the ceremony. The mayor’s wife, Adrianne McCollar, held the Bible for him to place his left hand on while he raised his right. They were also accompanied by three of their children.
Boyum had his son, Spencer Boyum, 17, a Statesboro High School 11th-grader, hold the Bible for him.
Doing the Bible-holding honors for Riggs was his father, retired pharmacist Sonny Riggs.