City Commissioner Bill Collins was voted in as Rome's mayor Monday night, making him the first black mayor in the city's history.
Collins has been on the board since 1996 and was mayor pro tem last year.
"He's served this body with distinction for a vast number of years. It's time for a change in leadership ... and he has earned this position," said Commissioner Wendy Davis, who nominated him at the panel's first meeting of the year.
Commissioner Randy Quick was unanimously named mayor pro tem for 2019.
The mayoral vote was split — with the former mayor, Commissioner Jamie Doss, netting four votes to Collins' five — but there were hugs all around when the dust settled.
Collins credited Doss with helping to recruit him to the city commission and called him "a class act" as the two discussed last week Collins' intent to challenge him.
"I can't take this seat without saying what an outstanding job he's done for this community," Collins said.
Doss, who's been on the board since 1990 and mayor for the past five years, praised Collins and noted the importance of his achievement before relinquishing the gavel.
"Our pro tem will do a great job," Doss said with a nod and smile at Collins. "These are historic times. He is the first minority to hold this seat."
Collins won with votes from Quick, Davis and Commissioners Milton Slack and Sundai Stevenson. Doss was supported by Commissioners Bill Irmscher, Evie McNiece and Craig McDaniel.
Six of the nine will be up for re-election this year. Terms expire in December for Ward 3 commissioners Collins, McNiece and McDaniel and for Ward 1 commissioners Slack, Irmscher and Stevenson.
Qualifying will be the last week in August. The board set the qualifying fee Monday at $252, equal to 3 percent of a commissioner's $8,400 annual salary.
Also on Monday, the board reappointed Sammy Rich as city manager and Rich made his appointments of senior staff and department heads. Rome's charter set up a strong city manager form of government: Elected officials make policy and a professional manager conducts the daily operations.
Rich made no major changes from last year. Among his re-appointments were Assistant City Manager Patrick Eidson, City Clerk Joe Smith, City Attorney Andy Davis and Municipal Court Judge Bryan Johnson. Mike Hackett will continue to head the water and sewer division, Sheree Shore is the finance division director and Chris Jenkins is director of the public works division.