ATHENS — Randy Daniel reflected on his just-ended tenure as mayor, saying that every day he was mayor, he was optimistic about the city and glad to be “a small part” of helping foster and nurture things getting accomplished.
Daniel resigned as mayor and will succeed the late Justice of the Peace Henry Ashford.
City council members appointed Vaught as mayor.
“He is very able and qualified to step in as mayor,” Daniel said of Vaught, 46, who has already served almost six years as a member of the city council and as mayor pro tem.
The council appointed newcomer Monty Montgomery to the Place 1 seat on the city council vacated by Vaught.
All three — Daniel, Vaught and Montgomery — are expected to run for full terms in their new positions in the next elections.
Vaught said that as mayor he wants to work for downtown revitalization, although he acknowledged some revitalization efforts involving sidewalks were carried out in the past.
“It's time we do even more and get more pedestrian friendly,” Vaught said. “I really want us to concentrate on what we can do to revitalize downtown.”
In another thrust, Vaught said, “I want to keep trying to get more manufacturing and retail jobs here and I want to keep working on getting Athens growing.”
Vaught recalled that he first ran for the city council about six years ago out of a desire to become personally involved in helping Athens change and progress.
Vaught is chairman of the Central Business Association of Athens, has served two stints on the chamber of commerce board and is a former board member for East Texas Arboretum.
He is co-chairman of a committee working to bring back the hamburger festival to Athens on June 8 and worked on the city council for passage of a no smoking ordinance.
Daniel will be sworn in as Precinct 1 justice of the peace on Dec. 14.
Daniel, who is retiring after 36 years in the public relations department of Trinity Valley Electric Co-op, said he pursued the appointment as justice of the peace because it interests him and because he has dedicated his career and life to public service.
He served 12 years on the Athens school board, including three years as president, and also was member of the municipal water authority about three years.
“My goal in whatever position I've filled is to do what's right for people,” Daniel, who has served 7 1/2 years as mayor, said.
“I'm proud of the fact we have an interactive website now and it happened under my watch,” Daniel said. On the in-depth city website, Daniel observed, citizens can pay their water bill and look at information including the city council agenda, the city charter and budget.
During his tenure as mayor, Daniel recalled, the city applied for and won two grants to fund installing sewer lines to houses that had never had sewer — a $250,000 project in the northeastern part of town and a $275,000 project in the western part of town.
“We built four homes in the northern part of Athens with community development block grant funds. That was the most rewarding thing that I can remember because I got to hand the keys to a brand new house to people who had never had a house before,” Daniel said.
Also during his terms as mayor, Daniel said, the city worked to increase the employee retention rate and curb high employee turnovers.
The city also hired an Austin consulting firm to assist in developing a downtown revitalization plan, Daniel noted. With the plan in place, now if anybody has an idea about revitalizing downtown or wants to spend money downtown, the city has a framework for them to work under and through, Daniel said.
However, he lamented that the city does not have money at present to fund installation of water and sewer service along the loop around town to provide the infrastructure that would be needed for business and industrial development on the loop.
On other fronts, the council has passed ordinances governing zoning and substandard housing, Daniel said.
“I've enjoyed my time as mayor and I thank the citizens of Athens for allowing me to be mayor,” Daniel said. “It's been a very exciting and humbling experience for me to be born and raised in Athens and be elected mayor. I'm ever so grateful.”