JONESBORO — It may seem incredible, given his 22 years on the Jonesboro City Council, but Councilman Wallace Norrington had never been picked to be the city’s mayor pro tem before Monday.
In more than two decades of serving in a leadership capacity for the city, Norrington’s colleagues on the council had never tapped him to be the town’s No. 2 person.
It’s not a myth. It’s not an urban legend. Norrington himself confirmed this to be a fact.
But all of that changed Monday night. That was the night the council voted 4-2 to name him as Jonesboro’s mayor pro tem for 2014 over the colleague who filled that position last year, Councilwoman Pat Sebo.
“It’s exciting but it’s going to be a challenge to be in this position,” said Norrington afterwards.
As the mayor pro tem, Norrington will have a big role to play in the city. That position exists so that a council member can step in and replace Mayor Joy Day is she is out of town or is otherwise unable to perform her duties as the head of Jonesboro’s government.
New Councilman Jack Bruce nominated Norrington for the position because he thought it was time the council’s longest-serving active member had a shot at the role of second-in-command.
“I couldn’t see where Wallace had ever been the mayor pro tem before and I thought he deserved a chance to serve in that role,” said Bruce.
Bruce said it was not a case of picking one neighbor over another, though. He lives across the street from Sebo and is about a block away from Norrington. While he said Norrington deserved a shot at the position, he also praised the way Sebo filled the slot last year.
“She did a fantastic job,” said Bruce.
But while Norrington may be getting accustomed to his new role, he’s not seeking to hold onto it beyond this year. After he was appointed to the position, he called on his colleagues to schedule discussions on changing to the way mayor pro tems are selected.
The position is currently picked by an annual vote. However, Norrington wants to see a rotating schedule set up to ensure everyone gets a chance to serve in the position once they’ve gained enough experience on the council.
“Lake City already does this and I think it brings about more peace to the council because we won’t have to be choosing one member over another every year,” Norrington told the council.
But changing the the selection process for the mayor pro tem will not be easy. The council can’t just decide it will be doled out on a rotating basis. The city charter requires the council vote each January to pick a mayor pro tem and Day said that will make it a little more complicated to adopt a rotating schedule.
The Georgia General Assembly would have to sign off on such a changes before it becomes reality.
“If we do go to a rotating schedule, the city charter will have to be changed and that will require an act of the legislature,” she said.
In other action, the council unanimously voted to set July 3 as the floating holiday for city employees and to grant Day the authority to negotiate and sign a special purpose local option sales tax agreement with the county.
Jonesboro’s SPLOST wish list includes $2.2 million for infrastructure such as sidewalks, right of way acquisitions, drainage improvements, Streetscape, a city green and signage; $2 million for a municipal complex; $450,000 for equipment and vehicle purchases for public safety and public works, and $300,000 for park enhancements.