April 25, 2009
Neal Wagner -
The Crawford town hall soon will lose a familiar face, as a longtime community leader will be stepping down following this year''s municipal elections.
The small white metal building adjacent to the town''s medical clinic and town park has been the workplace of Mayor Helen O''Neal for nearly 16 years.
Earlier this year, O''Neal announced she was not seeking re-election.
"I just feel like it''s someone else''s turn," O''Neal said as she reflected on her time in office. "I''ve definitely enjoyed it, but I just feel like, after 16 years this June, it''s time to move on."
While serving as head of the town''s government, O''Neal has worked to secure several improvements throughout the area, she said.
"What am I most proud of? Well, I would have to say that I''m most proud of getting affordable housing for our residents," O''Neal said. "I''m also proud that we were able to upgrade our sewage lagoon and update the town''s water and sewage lines."
Candidates Sandra Hart, Isha Colbert, Geraldine Farmer and Fred Tolon will be jockeying for the mayor''s office during the June 2 town election.
Once a new mayor is elected, O''Neal said she would be available to aid the incoming town leader as much as she can.
"Oh, I will still be around," O''Neal laughed, adding she likely will "take it easy for a while" after she leaves office.
"I will be around to help just as much as they need me to. Of course, I don''t want to get in the way or bother them or anything like that.," O''Neal added.
In addition to electing a new mayor June 2, Crawford residents also will have a chance to elect new members to the town''s five-person board of aldermen.
Six aldermen candidates have qualified for the race, including incumbents Willie Parson, Brenda Gentry and Larry Caldwell. Also running are Verlinda Humphries, Casey Smith and Vemitra White.
Because the town does not have wards, all candidates run at-large and do not cite party affiliations, explained Lowndes County Circuit Clerk Haley Salazar.
"With the smaller towns like Caledonia, Crawford and Artesia, the candidates don''t identify with political parties. They just all run at-large," Salazar explained. "Because of that, there will not be a primary election in Crawford next month.
"Their election will be on June 2, with all the other general elections in the county," Salazar added.