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'Representation is really important' | Jonesboro voters elect the city's first Black mayor

Jonesboro was incorporated more than 150 years ago, and even though Clayton County is one of the most diverse counties in Georgia, it never had a Black mayor.

JONESBORO, Ga. — Voters who cast their ballots in Tuesday's special election helped the City of Jonesboro make history.

The city has never had a mayor of color despite the diversity of Clayton County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 73% of people who live in Clayton County are Black.

Jonesboro has been in existence since 1859, and it was at a 2005 city council meeting that Donya Sartor noticed something. 

“I didn’t see any person of color, and at that moment I realized representation is really important," Sartor said.

That lack of representation prompted Sartor to run for office. She became a councilwoman, and now she'll become the very first Black mayor in the city's history. 

“I’m really excited about that. Whenever there’s a first for any community, I think that’s something that everybody should celebrate," Sartor said. "Indeed, I am the first Black mayor, but I’m really looking forward to doing the work for all of our citizens.”

Sartor already has several priorities as mayor-elect. The first is focusing on education as she worked as a teacher for 17 years. The second is community engagement.

“That’s important in any government and in any community," Sartor said. "We had a record number of voters come out and cast their ballot in this election, so I want to make sure I’m creative and intentional in creating opportunities for them to continue to be involved in government, and not just when it’s an election."

She started an adopt-a-senior program as a councilwoman where people could volunteer to give older residents some Christmas cheer.

“The seniors are a group that I personally connect to. I lost my mother recently, and watching her age, supporting her through the aging process, and making sure she was still socializing among her peers was really important," Sartor said.

Some other goals include having an audit of city procedures and collaborating with the City Council.

The mayor-elect hopes her win can pave the way for other people of color in Jonesboro.

“I hope that this sets a precedent that no matter your race, gender, or religion, that we need everybody’s voice at the table, and hopefully it’ll help others run for office as well," Sartor said. 

Mayor-elect Sartor should be sworn into office this Friday. Her term runs through December.

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