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Like his predecessor, St. Elmo's new mayor acknowledges that it has been challenging for St. Elmo officials – and for residents – to handle the reintroduction of liquor sales into the community.
But Jayson Porter is optimistic that the St. Elmo City Council can handle this and other challenges by working as a team.
In a 4-1 vote at a recessed meeting last Thursday, Porter was elected by the council to serve as St. Elmo's mayor until the municipal election in 2009. Porter was picked for the seat three days after Randy Watson, who had served as mayor since the spring of 2005, submitted his resignation.
Aldermen Lloyd Carson Sr., Patty Caraway, Todd Miller and Stormy Dilley voted in favor of Porter's appointment. Theresa Riley cast the lone dissenting vote, and Porter abstained.
Prior to the vote, City Attorney Rick Day explained that whomever was elected interim mayor had the option of either resigning his or her aldermanic seat, or continuing to serve as an alderman. By remaining in the aldermanic seat, that person would continue to vote on all issues before the council.
Upon being elected mayor, Porter, who has served as an alderman for about seven years, said that he will continue to serve as alderman, but only until "a suitable replacement" can be found by himself and the council.
After the meeting, Porter said, I think everybody was surprised by what happened on Monday, referring to Watsons resignation.
Its unfortunate that the situation came up where Randy felt that that was what he needed to do, he said.
Porter said he feels the transition is going well.
I really want to thank everyone on the board and everyone in the office and the city attorney for pulling together as a team for taking this awkward situation and making a smooth transition, he said.
Porter, like Watson, feels that the reintroduction of liquor sales, as approved by city residents by a four-vote margin in the spring of 2005, has caused some tough times in the city.
We didnt do this (approve liquor sales). The community turns to the board on this issue, and theyre like, Why did you do this?
But we didnt do this. We had to separate ourselves from this issue, and it was tough to do. We got left with this mess to clean up, you might say, Porter said.
I think we took care of it, though questions still arise and stuff still comes up, he said.
Porter said he sees his role as mayor as mainly starting the meetings and running the meetings. He wants the council to work as a team in handling issues in St. Elmo.
Hes confident that the office staff including Clerk Lynne Helsel and City Treasurer Mary Magnus will continue to keep daily operations running smoothly. They are very capable of handling the day-to-day matters, Porter said.