SNELLVILLE -- Newly elected mayor Kelly Kautz and freshman council members Bobby Howard, Diane Krause and Dave Emanuel were sworn into their respective offices in Snellville government Monday evening before a packed house.
Kautz opposed former mayor pro tem Barbara Bender in last week's election. The three council members, while receiving near record numbers of votes, ran unopposed.
Former mayor Jerry Oberholtzer passed the official gavel to Kautz following the swearing-in, with a smile and a comment of "good luck." Kautz took a moment later in Monday's proceedings to thank Oberholtzer for his "11 years of service" to the city, and the standing-room-only crowd gave him a standing ovation.
While it is no secret that, with the exception of councilman Mike Sabbagh, the other council members have been Bender supporters, several outward attempts at offering olive branches Monday were displayed for the audience by the new mayor and some council members. However, several procedural exchanges Monday, particularly between Kautz and councilman Tom Witts, reflected friction and the drawing of a symbolic line in the sand.
One such exchange involved Kautz's assertion that, despite Oberholtzer's former practice of approving a mayor pro tem by the mayor and council, the Snellville city code clearly states that the appointment authority is the mayor's alone. Kautz appointed Sabbagh, and when Witts asked for code references supporting her claim, new city attorney Stuart Oberman cited several. When Witts attempted to further disagree and voice his opposition, Kautz informed the councilman that he was out of order.
Later in the meeting, Kautz said, "We need to represent Snellville as a whole ... we need to come together as a city," adding that she and Oberholtzer will form a transition plan to assure a smooth transfer of authority.