WARNER ROBINS -- For Mayor Randy Toms, the tears came sooner than he expected.
During an emotional event for the new city leader, Toms was sworn in Monday as mayor of Warner Robins. Post 1 Councilman Chuck Shaheen, Post 3 Councilman Keith Lauritsen and Post 5 Councilman Clifford Holmes Jr. also were sworn in during the ceremony.
Thank you to God for giving me the dream to achieve something bigger than myself, Toms said through tears.
A standing-room-only crowd packed City Hall, with a cluster of spectators spilling out of council chambers and even standing on the indoor balcony to get a glimpse of the ceremony. After he was sworn in with family by his side, it wasnt long before Toms grabbed a tissue as he choked back tears.
Im excited about what the future holds for Warner Robins, Toms said.
A retired firefighter, Toms won the mayoral race in December after trumping opponent Joe Musselwhite in the runoff election. Toms emphasized the strengths of individual council members and pledged that he and the council will be married and will work together for the common good of the city.
We have much ahead of us, and we must individually be committed to ... accomplish that work, he said.
During the past few days, the new mayor has sought advice from other city officials, including Shaheen, who did not seek re-election for mayor but ran for a council seat. Shaheen clinched the Post 1 spot during the December runoff against former Councilman Mike Daley. Shaheen previously said he decided to run for Post 1 so he could return to the private sector and remain involved with the city.
Its an exciting time for our city, Shaheen said, adding that the council leaders combined have lived in Warner Robins about 500 years. Weve lived here, weve served here, and were going to die here as well.
The city revolves around Robins Air Force Base, Shaheen said, as well as the children in the community. Under the new leadership, the city will see much progress with recreation, as the City Council aims to improve the quality of life for children, he said.
Holmes, who won the Post 5 seat outright in November, was sworn in with his wife by his side. He thanked his family, his pastor and the citizens of Warner Robins.
This is a new day, and Im going to stop right there. I think youre going to be proud of whats sitting right in front of you, he said of the council.
Similarly, Lauritsen thanked the residents who voted him outright to Post 3 in Novembers election against former Councilman Paul Shealy.
Im so thankful for the citizens in the community of Warner Robins, where I grew up, Lauritsen said, promising to help form a government you can all be proud of. Thats why were here.
As the new leaders took their oaths, two white-draped chairs, each with a single rose, were in the front row. The chairs were for Toms late mother and mother-in-law. Toms expected to fight tears when that part of his speech came, he said.
I believe my two moms are awfully proud of this hard-headed boy, he said.
To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.