City Officials Gather in Savannah for Annual Convention

June 22, 2019

City officials from across Georgia arrived in Savannah for the 86th Annual Convention, Friday June 21. More than 2,000 attendees are registered for the weekend conference, attending training, policy committee meetings and concurrent sessions on issues affecting Georgia’s cities. In addition, cities and city officials will be recognized at awards ceremonies, and GMA’s new president, Dublin Mayor Phil Best, will be sworn into office.

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The convention theme, “Cities United: Lead to Succeed” focuses on the leadership of individuals and the power of cities working together. “At GMA, we’re putting great emphasis on the value of Georgia’s cities and their impact on our state as a whole. As cities unite to share this important message, this year’s convention will offer sessions and presentations that allow attendees to enhance their leadership skills while uncovering ways to make Georgia the best place to live, work and play,” said GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson.

Sunday’s General Session will shine the spotlight on leadership with Otis White, president of Civic Strategies, discussing the common attributes of effective city government leaders based on his years of study and observation. Following his remarks, attendees will hear from three individuals who embody the qualities of great leaders. They include Alex Gregory, former chairman and CEO of YKK Corporation of America, Joan Higginbotham, a former astronaut and the third African-American woman to travel into space, and Malcolm Mitchell, former Valdosta High School grad, wide receiver for the University of Georgia and Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, who is now inspiring young people to read and reach their full potential. 

Sunday also features meetings of GMA’s policy committees, with discussions about issues affecting Georgia’s cities. On Monday, First Lady Marty Kemp will participate in a concurrent session on the topic of human trafficking and her involvement with the GRACE Commission.

“The GRACE Commission is dedicated to helping survivors and ending human trafficking in Georgia once and for all,” said Mrs. Kemp. “We will continue our fight until the last victim is rescued, because one person trapped by this terrible industry is one too many.”

Also on Monday, Dublin Mayor Phil Best will be sworn in as president of GMA, and several cities will be recognized for recertification in the Cities of Ethics program. GMA will also induct several individuals, including GMA President and Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger, into the Municipal Government Hall of Fame.

“The Annual Convention really highlights the best of Georgia’s cities and their leaders,” said Hanson. “We come together to celebrate the work of our cities, but also to learn from each other and experts so city leaders can better serve their communities. It’s our goal that attendees will return to their cities feeling better informed, energized and ready to turn the lessons learned in training into action.”

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