Leader Blues

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TOP STORY >> Fletcher is sworn in

Leader staff writer

At 5:04 p.m. Tuesday, Gary Fletcher was sworn in as Jacksonville’s mayor.

Justice of the Peace Bob Johnson swore in Fletcher in front of about 200 friends, family members and well-wishers at the community center.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce president Phillip Carlisle told the audience that the swearing-in ceremony for a new mayor was truly historical. “We haven’t done this in 23 years,” Carlisle said.

Fletcher told the crowd he felt a bit guilty becoming mayor. “The apples are ripe and on the trees for me to just pick and hand to you,” he said, complimenting the work of former mayors Tommy Swaim and James Reid. “They have been great.”

He said shadowing Swaim the past week has been like “following a rock star on a farewell tour. Those are big shoes to fill.”

Fletcher said he’s questioned whether he is strong enough to do this job, but has found solace and strengthen in biblical verses and his unwavering belief in God.

The new mayor told the crowd at the community center, “You are more than citizens of Jacksonville. You are my family and I love you. You are the greatest people in the world.”

He added that often when a new mayor comes in lines are drawn. “Lines divide people. I plan on drawing a big old circle so we all get the credit.”

Fletcher will oversee his first city council meeting Thursday and is asking aldermen to create a nine-member education advisory group.

He will be Abe Lincoln in the Patriotic Spectacular at Jan Crow Stadium on Friday.