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Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 12:00pm

Mayor Looms Large In Race To Replace Him

Updated: 3 years ago.
Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson is barred by City Charter from seeking a third consecutive term in office. The rivals competing to replace him have used language and stressed priorities in their campaigns to distance themselves from him. (photo Geoff L Johnson Photography)

Voters in the port and tourism heavyweight city of Savannah will go to the polls next week to choose a new mayor.

While six candidates are in the race, one man stands at the center.

Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson is barred from serving a third term.

But the candidates vying to replace him have made his last year in office central to their messages.

"In this campaign, I have been made a lightning rod," Johnson says. "This entire campaign has been focused on the last year of this administration and the very controversial search for the city manager. Everything has been thrust into the background."

Johnson leaves City Hall after a year of bitter in-fighting on city council.

The city manager search laid bare racial divisions.

The candidates seeking to replace Johnson all pledge to foster consensus.

Johnson says, if they're running against him, they're running against progress.

"No one in their right mind can say that Savannah has not progressed in the last eight years," Johnson says.

Few expect any candidate to get a majority of votes Tuesday.

That sets up the likelihood that two of the following will end up in a run-off in December:

Edna Jackson and Jeff Felser are currently on the City Council.

Ellis Cook served on City Council from 1992 to 2007.

Floyd Adams, Jr. served as Mayor from 1996 to 2003.

Regina Thomas served in the Georgia House and Senate from 1995 to 2008.

James Dewberry ran unsuccessfully for Mayor in 2007 and County Commission in 2008.

BONUS CONTENT:

Mayor Otis Johnson talks about what he believes is his biggest accomplishment and where it all went wrong:

BONUS CONTENT:

Mayor Otis Johnson defends his record for small business in Savannah:

BONUS CONTENT: Johnson talks about the candidates seeking to replace him:

BONUS CONTENT:

Johnson defends his actions in the City Manager controversy:

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