This article appeared in the June 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
In the movie “The Rookie,” 35-year-old pitcher Jim Morris is in the minor leagues. Missing his family, making little money and with little confidence he’ll get to the major leagues, Jim considers quitting. Reminded of his love of baseball after watching a little league game, he says with newfound enthusiasm to his best friend on the team, “You know what we get to do today? We get to play baseball.”
“The Rookie” serves as an important reminder for us to find joy and inspiration in what we do and love. And that’s what happened to me this past year. It wasn’t about getting to play baseball, of course, but it was about being mayor of Dallas for another year and working on the behalf of cities across Georgia as GMA president. It was a year in which I found joy and inspiration.
When I became president of GMA last June, I said that our job as city officials is simple; it is to lead––to set a direction, build a vision and create something new. After traveling the state this year, your leadership in tackling the challenges facing your cities has truly been an inspiration.
I’m inspired by the leadership Donalsonville Mayor Dan Ponder has exhibited in his efforts to make his city a Smart Rural City. The city’s efforts will create more educational opportunities for its residents and give the city an advantage when recruiting businesses.
The example of Valdosta, through a partnership with the Great Promise Partnership, providing part-time city jobs for at-risk youth, emboldens us all to find opportunities to build trust with, and nurture, at-risk youth in our communities.
And, the leadership provided by Winterville Mayor Dodd Ferrelle demonstrates how city officials can impact their community beyond simply running a city. The city’s mural project shows how we all can use the arts, community-based schools and the creativity of children to make our communities a better place to live.
Great, inspirational things are going on in our cities, but the same can be said of what’s going on within GMA, too.
GMA’s training program continues to evolve and set new attendance records. GMA has created a Municipal Revenue Administration Certificate for city staff. We’ve made great strides in creating effective working relationships with our Congressional delegation through our federal advocacy program. Your association is making headway toward creating a Placemaking Collaborative, and has begun to take a look at how to help cities address their workforce issues. Our relationships with the Georgia Council for the Arts, Georgia School Board Association and the Great Promise Partnership continue to evolve and grow. The newly created Business Alliance Program has been positively received and is exceeding its goals. Our meetings continue to evolve and challenge us, GMA’s services continue to provide outstanding value and results to participating cities, and GMA remains a respected voice at the Gold Dome.
Like Jim Morris in “The Rookie,” this past year has reminded me of the great joy and inspiration that can be found in public service and active participation in GMA. I hope you’ve had moments where you’ve been reminded of that too.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your president, and for the support you have given me. It has been a great pleasure and learning adventure for me. I look forward to serving with you for many years as we continue to move GMA forward.