Tomlinson: 'Celebratory luncheon' welcomed new mayor, council
By MIKE OWEN
Top elected and appointed officials from the Columbus and Phenix City governments gathered for a luncheon Thursday at the Columbus Museum.
The group included all of Phenix City Council, Mayors Eddie Lowe and Teresa Tomlinson and eight of the 10 members of Columbus Council. City Managers Isaiah Hugley and Wallace Hunter and their assistants, Angel Moore, Lisa Goodwin and David Arrington, also attended. Absent were Columbus Councilors Red McDaniel and Pops Barnes.
Tomlinson said the luncheon, which was held at the Columbus Museum, was a "celebratory luncheon to welcome the new Phenix City mayor and council."
"We're going to have to work together more than we ever have before because of the development of the river, which we both have an immediate shared interest in," Tomlinson said. "Because of the tremendous growth that's coming our way, we're going to have to have a very close relationship."
The officials introduced themselves personally and professionally and spoke about what drew them into politics and public service, Tomlinson said. They also spoke about the need for more cooperation in the future.
"There was a broad agreement that we're going to have to do things differently, particularly with whitewater coming down the pike," she said. "There are a lot of opportunities on both sides of the river. We're going to have to get together on some of these things."
Lowe said he was first impressed when Tomlinson and some other
city leaders attended the swearing in ceremony for him and the new councilors on Monday in Phenix City, saying that established a sense of "inclusion" that will help the cities work together.
"To me that sent a powerful message on Monday. To be able to culminate it with what we had today was even more powerful," Lowe said. "It shows that we're engaging each other and that we're going to work together."
Lowe, who is new to the mayor's office, said he was reluctant to call the relationship a change.
"I don't know how it was done in the past, but I'm grateful for this opportunity with us just getting sworn in, and being able to get together," Lowe said.
Both mayors said they plan to continue similar meetings in the future twice a year, once in each city.
In most cases when a quorum of a governing body meets, Georgia's Open Meetings Laws require that body to give public notice of the meeting, which was not done with this meeting. But social gatherings such as Thursday's are exempt from that law, according to Columbus City Attorney Clifton Fay.
A recent change in Georgia's Open Meetings Law allows, "a gathering of a quorum of members of a governing agency at social, ceremonial, civic or religious events as long as no official business, policy or public matter is formulated, presented, discussed or voted upon," Fay said. The luncheon, which cost $350, was paid out of the mayor's budget, Tomlinson said.