A Beacon of Light

Published 3:14 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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It was a good-sized crowd that gathered in the old Donalsonville Fire Department building on Tuesday.  People mixed and mingled, enjoying the food and the moment.  History was made as Ron Johnson was sworn in as Donalsonville’s mayor, the first black person to hold that office in the city’s 123-year history.

The short ceremony belied the importance of this election.  Mayor Johnson moved amongst the crowd and greeted everyone there.  His remarks were gracious and inclusive of everyone.  It was a remarkable contrast to the images being seen on television from around the country highlighting racial tension.

The crowd was close to half and half black and white.  A broad swath of the community was present, from churches, businesses, and government.  While Johnson’s election was historic because of his race, the theme of the afternoon was working together for the betterment of the community.

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Johnson himself had earlier described his vision of Donalsonville being a “Beacon of Light” in a world that is consumed by racial strife and division.  There is power in unity, the new mayor said, and he wants to show those who did not vote for him the type of person he is and what he stands for.

Healing begins with reconciliation.  Johnson was gracious in thanking his opponent and having only good things to say about Mitzy Moye and her supporters.   

Mayor Johnson said that the first thing on his agenda was to simply observe.  That is a wise move.   The city is blessed with an excellent city manager, clerk, and department heads.  It is financially healthy, despite the challenges of Hurricane Michael and the pandemic.

The new mayor’s pledge to represent everyone is the same one I made as a newly elected mayor six years ago.  It is not always easy and unexpected challenges will come out of nowhere, but I believe that Johnson is clearly up to the task.

He has a strong faith, which he will need.  He has the backing of a broad group of supporters.  His only agenda is the betterment of the city that elected him.  He understands that success will only come by uniting, not dividing.

I consider being the mayor of Donalsonville one of the greatest honors of my life.  I will be forever grateful to those that helped me, gave me advice, steered me in the right direction, and challenged me when they thought I was wrong.    

I came back to Donalsonville on Tuesday to show my support for the new mayor.  I left with a good feeling that things are going to be just fine.

Mayor Johnson wants Donalsonville to be a beacon of light and show the way to racial harmony and unity among its citizens.  It can be done with your help, with everyone’s help.

Good luck and Godspeed, Mayor Johnson.  Continue to hold that light high.