WARNER ROBINS — Chuck Shaheen promised Monday night after being sworn in as mayor to continue moving the city forward through good leadership and support of small businesses, Robins Air Force Base and other areas vital to the city’s success.
Shaheen, 49, the city’s first newly elected mayor since 1994, told the crowd how delighted he was to finally take his role as mayor.
“If you look at Coca-Cola, there’s ingredients somewhere on there,” he said. “And if you look at the city of Warner Robins, you see the people make the place. We’ve got some of the best people here in Warner Robins, and I’m so blessed to serve you.”
About 500 people packed City Hall for swearing-in ceremonies, with a sprinkling of Robins Air Force Base leaders and elected officials coming from across Houston, Peach and Bibb counties. State Rep Tony Sellier (R-Fort Valley) and even Valdosta Mayor John J. Fretti came to town for the event.
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Mike Daley, Daron D. Lee and Paul Shealy also were sworn in as new members of the City Council. Daley thanked the voters, his friends and his family for helping him reach office. Lee remarked on how Warner Robins was a city with great potential and that he couldn’t wait to get started working. Shealy thanked everyone for having confidence in him.
“I am honored and ready to go to work for you,” Shealy told the crown immediately after being sworn in. “I will do my very best to live up to your expectations.”
The occasion was also a farewell of sorts for outgoing councilmen Terry Horton and Clifford Holmes Jr., and for Mayor John Havrilla. Horton did not run for a new term. Holmes ran unsuccessfully for mayor. Havrilla, who had been the councilman for Post 1, already had decided not to run for another term before being elevated to mayor Sept. 28 after the death of Mayor Donald Walker.
After the ceremony, the new mayor and council held a brief meeting to reappoint Jim Elliott as city attorney, elect Councilman Bob Wilbanks as mayor pro tempore and approve the council calendar for 2010, among other things.
The evening, official in nature, also was prone to lighthearted moments. Shaheen commented while signing official documents making him mayor that he learned to sign his name the way his father had. Shaheen has said his father was a factor in his decision to one day run for mayor of the city.
“When I was growing up, I learned to sign my name like my dad did,” he said, “I’m signing like that right now.”
Capitalizing on the moment, Judge George F. Nunn Jr. approached the lectern, saying while growing up he, too, learned to sign the elder Shaheen’s signature, causing the entire room to erupt with laughter.
Shaheen presented Havrilla with an engraved silver plate, thanking him for the work he put into the city in such a short time.
Among the issues that popped up was an attempted break-in to the mayor’s office by two city employees who have since been terminated by the city and the discovery during that investigation that Walker kept investigative files on several notable people in his office. Those files have since been destroyed.
“He handled some tough issues,” Shaheen said in his presentation to Havrilla.
“I was saying earlier to the media that they thought all I did was shred papers,” Havrilla said to laughter from those gathered.
To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.