May 23, 2017 10:47:57 AM
Column evokes fond memories of time on city council
Birney Imes' mention in his Sunday column (Partial to Home: "Fredrick Jackson steps up") the city council and its youngest members brought back memories of my four years on the council. I ran for the Columbus City Council in 1969 at the age of 29 as a Republican and was elected, which shocked many because of my youth and because we had only moved here three years earlier.
Ours was the first Republican city council in Columbus and the state. There was one Democrat in the group, Frank Griffin. Mayo Ellis, a Democrat, was mayor. Richard Nixon was president.
The Dispatch gave us very good coverage and helped us considerably thanks to Birney's father. With the help of C.L. Mitchell (of Mitchell Engineering, later CECO), we built the library. We required all policemen and firemen to have training at the state academy, something that had never been done before. We also had a tax reevaluation, which had not been done before.
I remember someone came complaining about his taxes. After he left, we asked Arthur Lipsey, who was in charge of the tax records how much his taxes were before our reevaluation. He said he had slipped between the cracks and was paying no property taxes.
There were other firsts.
We were all established businessmen with no interest in being career politicians. After our four-year term, only one of us ran again.
We partnered with Starkville and West Point to get a new airport (GTR) started. We hired the first city planner, Bill Burnette. Being the first Republican council in the state, we got congratulatory letters from President Nixon, who we later met along with Vice President Agnew.
That council was comprised of Chester Jones, Mac McCarty, Max Andrews, Clark Bozeman, Frank Griffin and myself. Only McCarty ran again. We all felt we had accomplished more than we could have imagined and needed to go back to work at our own professions.
It was rewarding work, made even more special by the men I served with.
Frank "Mike" Batson
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