Thursday, July 24 2014 11:14 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:14:49 GMT
Lee County residents voiced their displeasure with a potential property tax hike Thursday evening.More >>
Lee County residents voiced their displeasure with a potential property tax hike Thursday evening. More >>
September 21, 2005
Fitzgerald- Mayor Gerald Thompson is far from a newcomer when it comes to government.
"I first became mayor in 1968, so evidently I was 34 years old probably. So I was quite a young mayor," he says.
He was a young mayor who made it his practice to learn from other Georgia leaders.
"I've interacted with all of them from Jimmy Carter to Governor Perdue."
In fact, Thompson says he owes his success and his accomplishments to what they've taught him. He was just awarded one of five Georgia Excellence in Public Service awards by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and Georgia Trend Magazine.
"This is probably the outstanding one of my career." It is more special than any of his other awards, because he won during the same year as his high school classmate, and statewide winner, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher.
"That put two of us from Fitzgerald, Georgia, and that made it better for me. I'm just evidence that anybody can accomplish something that he wants to. You have to be pretty thick-skinned I say because people get criticism. Some people don't like that. They can't stand that," he says.
Growing up as the youngest of seven children and after undergoing two heart surgeries, Thompson says his life experiences helped him develop that thick skin.
Thompson admits a lot has changed in the nearly 40 years since he was first elected as mayor, but he says that one thing that hasn't changed is the quality of people that live here.
"We've got a good community. We've got a good staff. We've got great cooperation between the council and myself working together as a team, so that's what it takes."
And as long as his formula works, Thompson says he'll be happy to give credit for his awards to those who helped him earn them.
Thompson is currently seeking re-election for mayor. His does have opposition, Prentiss Brown and Herbert Jones are running against him.