TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s been a week since the ballots were counted and Shirley Sessions won the race for Tybee mayor outright without a runoff.
Shirley Sessions, the first female mayor-elect for Tybee Island, is ready for the challenge. After living on Tybee for 20 plus years and serving 4 terms on city council, she’ll now take on the new title of Mayor.
“Being the first woman is very important and is an honor but when you think about how eclectic Tybee has always been I’m not as surprised as I would have been in another city, because Tybee has always been accepting of people,” she said.
Tybee is growing and facing many complex issues with the environment, public safety, and infrastructure. Along with disaster preparedness and strengthening dunes with beach renourishment, Sessions wants to address a problem many residents are worried about.
“Some of the issues with making sure the short term vacation rentals which as you know has been a big issue in this campaign. Just trying to find a balance of how we can welcome visitors to our island without our residents losing their quality of life,” she said.
Shirley succeeds Jason Buelterman. After serving as mayor for 14 years, he’s stepping down to run for the Chairman of the Chatham County Commission next year. Sessions has a few hot ticket items she wants to press when she’s officially inaugurated in 2020, but the mayor-elect admitted her biggest goal was transparency and inclusivity.
“My campaign slogan was to unite Tybee and that’s what I truly hope to do. There’s any number of ways of doing that. I’m going to be the mayor who will listen and who will be honest,” she said.
Sessions and the rest of council will be sworn in in January. The start of a new decade and the start of a new era for Tybee Island.