Mayor, elected law enforcement back to 'business as usual' after election

Differences between mayor, sheriff, marshal during election haven't affected professionalism

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comJune 8, 2014 

After a rigorous mayoral campaign that saw two elected law enforcement officials line up against the incumbent mayor, the dust has settled on the victory for Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, and all involved say it's time to get back to the tasks at hand.

When challenger Colin Martin, a former executive with the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce, announced his candidacy in January, Sheriff John Darr and Marshal Greg Countryman were among several elected officials who attended the ceremony. Darr and Countryman also appeared later in the campaign at an endorsement news conference at Martin's campaign headquarters.

On May 21, Tomlinson cruised to victory, capturing about 63 percent of the vote to Martin's 37 percent.

While the mayor has no authority over either the sheriff or the marshal, she is the city's public safety director, so she works closely with them, the police and fire chiefs and the Department of Homeland Security.

"Actually, I met with Marshal Countryman just this morning, so we're continuing on just the way we have," Tomlinson said Thursday. "During the political campaign, it may have appeared dramatic and interesting, and it was, but now we're back to business as usual."

Countryman described his relationship with Tomlinson as "professional" and did not think his endorsement of Martin would affect it.

"I don't see why it really would. Neither one of us are small-minded or petty people," Countryman said. "I'm a professional as I would want to believe the mayor is as well."

Darr said he will maintain the same professional relationship with the mayor's office that he always has.

"My only priority is, and always has been, to serve and protect the citizens of our community," Darr said. "I will maintain a professional relationship with all of the city leaders, including the mayor."

Countryman said because he and Darr do not report to the mayor or council, their relationships with the mayor, whoever it might be, is different from those with the police and fire chiefs.

"We will at times agree to disagree," he said. "That happens when you have people who believe strongly in what they believe. I am sure that others who work closely with the mayor have disagreed on occasions. We should be able to separate politics and business and move forward together to serve the citizens of Columbus."

Tomlinson said she meets regularly with Countryman, Darr, Muscogee County Prison Warden Dwight Hamrick, Fire Chief Jeff Meyers and Homeland Security Director Brad Hicks, and on a daily basis with Police Chief Ricky Boren.

"It's on an as-need basis in one sense," Tomlinson said. "But that as-need basis tends to be very regular."

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