JONESBORO — Jonesboro voters chose a mix of experience and freshness in their election Monday.
The voters re-elected Mayor Pro Tem Pat Sebo and picked Billy Powell and Jack Bruce to serve on the council for the next four years.
The election marks a change for Jonesboro, which will lose two council members, Clarence Mann and Joe Compton, who chose not to seek re-election this year. That guaranteed at least two seats would be occupied by newcomers.
In the end, the voters decided to bring back Powell, who briefly served on the council from 2007 until 2011, and to bring in Bruce, who is a political newcomer but regularly attends council meetings. Powell led the field with 127 votes, followed by Bruce and Sebo with 116 votes each. Former Councilwoman Linda Wenz rounded out the field with 87 votes.
Jonesboro council members are elected at large, so the top three vote-getters win the council seats.
One of the first issues the new council will have to deal with in January is the renovation of Lee Street Park. Although the council is expected to vote next week to approve an overall plan for the park’s renovations, that plan only gives planners basic ideas about where items will be placed in the park.
Mayor Joy Day told residents Monday that the city will have to get down and dirty in the process of picking specific design elements for the park. That process will likely carry over into 2014.
The council will also have to decide whether to continue pursuing a referendum on lowering Jonesboro’s homestead exemption from $60,000 to $10,000, which is a battle the city has been having with local legislators for three years.
Officials said they needed to lower the exemption because property values had fallen to the point where no residents had to pay the city’s property tax. That put the burden of the tax on business owners, officials have repeatedly said.
However, the city was met with a sluggish response with the Clayton County Legislative Delegation. Although state Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro) introduced legislation calling for the referendum when the council requested it, other legislators in the delegation were hesitant to sign on to it.
That slowed the legislation’s progress and it ultimately stalled in the state Senate.