Owens to run for city council rather than mayor

For the first time in 30 years, the City of Lavonia will have a new mayor starting in January. While who that will be is still unknown, we do know that Mayor Ralph Owens has chosen to step down… at least half-way.

Owens said he has seen a lot of change and a lot of progress in his 30 years of service as mayor. The mayor said when he began the city had five police officers and three police cars and now the city has 15 police officers, each with their own police cruiser and the city also has a couple of spares as well. He also talked about other changes.

I’ve been here for 30 years and the citizens have been just awesome, you know. In my 30 years I’ve had opposition twice. I’ve tried to do what I said I would do when I ran for mayor the first time, was clean Lavonia up, work on our infrastructure and just make the town a better place to live,” said Owens.

Owens said it was time to make a change in the mayor’s office.

I think it’s time to let a younger person get in there and my reason for running for city council is to kind of help with that and some ongoing things we have like our wastewater system that we’re spending $4 million on. We’re getting some grant money and some other money. I think if we get what we think we are we’ll have spent a million dollars of our own but to get $4 million that’s real good. I want to see that on through and a couple of other things we’re working on. That’s the reason I want to step down. I feel like if I’m on city council, you know, I’ve been here for 30 years and I’ve never got to vote on anything. That’s just the way a mayor’s job is. You can break a tie but you can’t vote, so if I get elected to this I can vote,” said Owens with a laugh.

The mayor said he did not know who the next mayor would be but he is willing to lend a hand regardless of who gets elected.

I just want to help them out, whoever gets elected mayor. I don’t know who’s goiong to run against Courtney, but whoever wins I will be willing to work with them and help them any way I can,” said Owens.

Owens was then asked about what he considered some of the highlights of his tenure as mayor.

Well, we worked on that depot over there. We remodeled it and turned it back just like it was years ago. Our library; we’ve done that; the old cannery building, we’ve remodeled it and done that. There’s one or two other things we’ve done that I’m proud of, but the thing I’m most proud of is our police department. Naturally, it’s got my name on it. I was in law enforcement for several years and I worked for the Lavonia Police Department for several years, and the fire department. Then I went to Franklin County and went to Franklin County and worked as a deputy sheriff for several years. It was the police department’s who wanted to name the building after me. It wasn’t my idea,” said Owens.

Owens will not be required to visit city hall daily once he is no longer mayor, and said he intended to spend that extra time around the house.

You know, I like to piddle around the house. I’ve got six acres of grass to cut and I try to keep it cut back so it doesn’t get into old growth and all. I’m just like that and I just like to sit back and take it easy some time. I’m going to get me a big white rocking chair and put it on my patio over there,” said Owens.

So while the mayor may be stepping down as the city’s top elected official, he hopes he still has the chance to serve the city in a different way.