At City Hall, Councilwoman Sandra Sudduth presented plaques to councilmen George Areno and Derek Raulerson in the last meeting of their terms. Raulerson unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Mayor Johnny Smith for the city’s executive office, and Areno fell to Jerry Parris in a runoff election earlier this month.
Sudduth thanked the pair for their dedicated service “not for any one agenda,” she said, “but for the betterment of the city.
“I think that in the eight years I served I was able to help make some accomplishments,” Areno said. “One of the things that helped us make all our accomplishments are our city workers, and we’ve got a good staff of city workers.”
Raulerson said in his single term, he’s attended more than 300 meetings relating to the operation of the city of Jacksonville. “I’ve learned a lot over the past four years,” he told the council. “It’s been my pleasure to serve with you…I’ve learned more than I could have possibly imagined.”
Councilman Truman Norred said he appreciated both Areno and Raulerson. “They’ve been a joy to work with,” he said.
“Both of you really have a lot of heart in what you do,” added Councilman Mark Jones. “You give a lot of thought and put in a lot of research on all the issues that we have, and I really appreciate the passion that both of you showed on your dedication to making the city a better place to live.”
As these two men wrapped up their service, three Board of Education members were at the dais for the first meeting of their new term, having just been sworn in by Calhoun County Probate Judge Alice Martin.
David Glass, who won an open seat in August, is in the midst of making the transition from his business background into the world of education. “I’m excited,” he said, adding that he wants to get on board and help continue the efforts of the board.
Emily Sims unseated mayoral appointee and former board president Caroline Allen-Ross to win her place on the board. “I’m really excited to see what kind of improvements we can make to an already good system,” said the longtime educator, who currently teaches education at Jacksonville State University. “We seem to have a really good group, and we seem to be on the same train of thought.”
Kelly Haynes Pearce, who currently serves as the board’s vice president, returns to the board for her third term.
“As always, I want to put the children first; hopefully we can do that through new initiatives,” she said. “We already have a very strong curriculum, and we’re looking for ways to even enhance what we have…The digital conversion, I think will be a big way for us to move our curriculum forward.”
As the first order of business for the new board, member Steve Smith nominated Mike Poe to replace Allen-Ross as the body’s president. He was approved unanimously.