Newly-elected Dougherty County Commissioner Clinton Johnson stands in front of the government center in Albany. Johnson begins his term as the youngest member of the board on Jan. 7.
ALBANY, Ga. — Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard called Monday's first meeting of the new year a bittersweet one as he and his colleagues said goodbye to one among their ranks and welcomed another.
Clinton Johnson, elected to fill the commission's District 3 seat vacated by Muarlean Edwards, who resigned from her post to run for state office, joined the board Monday after being sworn in by Probate Judge Nancy Stephenson.
"I think I'm going to jell fine with this group," Johnson, who at 34 becomes the youngest member of the board, said at the end of his first meeting. "It's exciting to hear the perspectives of the other commissioners and delegations, so I'm looking forward to working with them.
"I think I'm going to like seeing and hearing things more from this side of the table."
Sinyard presented Edwards a plaque honoring her for her service.
"We have a young man joining us on the board who, I believe, is doing it for all the right reasons," Sinyard said. "But today is bittersweet because it's tough to say goodbye to a colleague who has served this community so well."
Edwards spoke briefly to an audience that included a large contingent of her family, including current Dougherty School Board member Velvet Riggins and former Dougherty Commissioner Victor Edwards.
"I read in the paper the other day where someone said that if they had a choice between a place in Albany and a place in hell, they'd choose hell," the outgoing commissioner said. "That concerned me, because I love my community. And what I want to do now that I'm out of the public eye is work to make Albany a better place to live.
"I want to help change the opinion of people here who feel the way this person did."
Edwards was first elected to the board on March 20, 2007, defeating Bob Washington in a special election called to fill the seat vacated by Brenda Robinson-Cutler. Edwards did not run for re-election to the commission in 2012, choosing instead to run for the state House of Representatives. She was defeated by incumbent state Rep. Carol Fullerton, D-Albany.