Hinesville Gets First African American Mayor - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Hinesville Gets First African American Mayor

New Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas takes the oath of office. New Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas takes the oath of office.
Mayor Thomas speaks to the people of Hinesville. Mayor Thomas speaks to the people of Hinesville.

HINEVILLE,GA -- Jim Thomas is making history in Hinesville, sworn in this morning as Hinesville's first African American mayor.

Thomas said "it's reality. It's a powerful affirmation of God's grace."

Thomas and his family moved to Hinesville in 1977, Thomas said politics weren't not in the cards. "That was not my thought pattern for tomorrow."

Today is a different story. Thomas, along with his Hinesville city council took the oath of office. In the process his election broke down a barrier so many other communities had already done.

He said "I recognize that it is historic...but i also think it is a confirmation of Dr. King's words, you are not judged by your color,but by the power of the mind."

Marsha Simmons said this is a great day in liberty county and makes all of us feel proud.

Marsha was one of the standing room only crowd who watched history unfold. She also stated that it's not about skin color but, community.

"I've been here since i was a baby...and i am just happy was here to witness this great opportunity."

While a new era is ushered in, another comes to an end. The Tom Ratcliffe administration may be over, but mayor Ratcliffe says this was not about race, .but who was the best person for the job.

"It's not a matter of election of a particular person whether they are black, oriental, indian or it's about bringing a person to public service which is the ultimate goal.

Tom Ratcliffe watched as the torch was passed. After 8 years and two terms as mayor -- he says the city is in good hands.

"I think the best days are still in front of us and I have great confidence that the new administration will continue to take the city forward."

Ratcliffe says Hinesville has no ethnic majority, so Thomas's distinction as the first African American mayor in their city while significant is overshadowed by the power of the people and who they wanted as mayor. They picked Jim Thomas who says he's ready for the challenge.

Thomas says it feels good.

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