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Change on horizon for St. Marys council
ST. MARYS -- Bill Deloughy understands the challenges the St. Marys City Council will face after the November elections.

In 2001, four incumbents -- the then mayor and three council members -- were voted out of office, in large part because of backlash from new city residents who were forcibly annexed into St. Marys.

Deloughy, among new members elected to the seven-person council in 2001, says there was a loss of continuity for projects and issues that were being discussed or had already been resolved after he and three other new council members took office.

"I found out we didn't know as much as we thought," he said. "We had to learn the job as we went along."

In January, the city could face a similar situation, with five of the seven council seats up for grabs. While the outcome of the Nov. 5 election is not certain, it's guaranteed the city will have a new mayor and at least three new council members.

Post 6 councilman Sidney Howell is the only incumbent seeking re-election. He will face former Camden County Commissioner Linda Williams. Another council member, John Morrissey, is running for the mayor's post currently held by Deloughy, who is not seeking re-election. Morrissey will face former council member Larry Johnson.

Two candidates, Sam Colville and Tommy Weaver, will face each other for Morrissey's Post 5 seat.

The race for the Post 4 seat, held by Keith Post, who is not running, will feature three candidates: David Reilly, Mike Weaver and Eddie Lee Rhone.

"You're losing a good amount of your institutional memory," said Tony Wege, professor of political science at College of Coastal Georgia. "It does create a longer break-in to get people used to each other."

While a larger turnover in local government is not necessarily bad, Wege says it can be "problematic."

"You wind up re-plowing old ground," he said. "Issues will get rehashed."

Deloughy says his advice to new council members is to trust city staff for information to help them make the best decisions and to research the history of issues before they raise them again.

"I relied heavily on staff after I took office," he said. "I still do this."

The Post 1 winner of the Nov. 5 elections will get a head start on the other newly elected officials. That race is to complete the remainder of Greg Bird's term, which was to expire Dec. 31, 2014. Bird resigned unexpectedly in September, citing health problems. The winner will take the oath of office after the election, while the other winners will have to wait until after Jan. 1.

Two candidates, former Camden County Commissioner Artie Jones Jr. and Bob Nutter, have qualified to seek the post. Former Camden County Commissioner Sandy Feller also qualified before the Sept. 25 deadline but later dropped out.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

Learn more

A candidate forum, sponsored by the Coalition for a Better Community, will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at College of Coastal Georgia, 8001 Lakes Blvd., Kingsland.

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