One week from tonight, Savannahians will know who's going to be their new mayor. Yesterday, we profiled Pete Liakakis. Today, an in-depth look at Dr. Otis Johnson. We spoke with those who know Johnson best. He was the first African American to attend Armstrong State college and the first African American from Savannah to earn a degree from the University of Georgia.
But his resume doesn't end there. Along with an impressive educational background, Dr. Johnson's also got a resume full of public service. After eight years on city council, he then dedicated ten years to Savannah's Youth Future Authority, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families.
Dr. Martha Fay recalls Johnson as a leader. "Otis, above all the people who are running for mayor, believes that you need to solve the problems with children rather than waiting until they're already on the streets shooting at one another," she told us.
Johnson also served four years on Savannah-Chatham County's school board, but his community service goes beyond education. The Neighborhood Improvement Association is also his brainchild. Over the past few years, the organization has helped reduce blight and in its place build new homes, particularly in the Cuyler-Brownsville district.
Edward Chisolm, who runs the association, says it's Otis Johnson's vision for Savannah that makes him the best man for the job. "He's the best candidate for mayor because he captures both the vision as well as the passion of the people. Wonderful combination to have as a mayor," he said. "He has put 40 plus years of his life, his heart and soul into this city."
Only one week to cast your vote, and if you still haven't decided, there's a chance to hear from the candidates once more. They'll be holding a mayoral debate tomorrow night at 6pm at the Trustees Theater downtown.