The City of Clarkston, a cultural melting pot, celebrated the Jan. 7 inauguration of its new mayor, Ted Terry, in a way that only Clarkston could.
The city, located about 10 miles east of Atlanta, is populated with refugees representing 50 countries. So it was fitting that Clarkston marked Terry’s inauguration with an Asian song by Pan Ei San; a traditional Zulu dance and djembe drum performance by “Aviva and Simon;” a Sunkoshi dance by members of the Bhutanese Artists of Georgia; an acoustic guitar performance by Diane Durrett and a bongo drum performance by Fred Kelly and Mark Poret.
Clarkston’s inaugural ceremony celebrated cultures from around the world and included an African drum performance by Fred Kelly and Mark Poret and a traditional Sunkoshi performance from members of the Bhutanese Artists of Georgia.
More than 100 people braved 6-degree weather that night to pack the Clarkston Community Center to congratulate Terry on his new position.
After dancing with Somalian Clarkston refugees and other supporters, Terry took to the stage to address the crowd as the official mayor of Clarkston.
“Clarkston is a city like no other. We boast an amazing array of diverse cultures, businesses and people. We are a neighborly city, and we know that in order to create the best community we can, we need to work together,” said Terry, who danced with his fiancé, Andrea Cervone. “To the citizens, residents and new Americans here in Clarkston, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you.”
Terry also took the time to retire his shoes—a red pair of tennis shoes that are coming a part at the seams. He wore the shoes to knock on more than 1,000 doors during a successful grassroots campaign. As Terry relentlessly pounded the pavement, he also communicated his campaign on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“I was inspired and motivated by the folks I met everyday. Whether it was the young kid in the Casa Woods neighborhood who wanted help printing up fliers for his lawn mowing service, or the newly-arrived Bhutanese mother at Clarkston Station Apartments who just wanted to have a cup of sweet coffee and practice her English with the next Mayor. I found a spirit of relentless optimism in our town,” said Terry, who was sworn into his new office by Municipal Court of Clarkston Judge Stephen Nicholas. “It doesn’t matter if you have lived here for 45 years or newly arrived from a far off land 45 days ago. All are welcome in our city.”
People in attendance said they are excited to see Terry govern the city of about 8,000 people.
“Ted really understands the issues Clarkston is facing. He wants to build a better Clarkston to eat, live, work and play in. He wants what we all want,” said Clarkston resident Betty Ann Cook, who supported Terry on the campaign trail and along with Rupert Fike, shared some original poems at the inauguration celebration. “Ted handles the diversity in Clarkston really well and we can’t wait to see him working for Clarkston in his new title as mayor.”
The inauguration was well attended by elected officials as well. Some elected officials in attendance included DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown, State Representatives DarShun Kendrick and Karla Drener, State Senator Steve Henson, DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez and DeKalb County Commissioners Kathie Gannon and Sharon Barnes Sutton.
The Clarkston planning and Zoning meeting will be held Jan. 21, 7 p.m., at Clarkston City Hall, 3921 Church St., Clarkston. 404-296-6489.
Top picture above: Mayor Ted Terry (center) is sworn into his new office by Judge Stephen Nicholas with his fiancé, Andrea Cervone, by his side.