Eberhart announces upcoming term will be his last on Fort Payne City Council
August 4, 2016
Southern Torch (3845 articles)
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Eberhart announces upcoming term will be his last on Fort Payne City Council

johnny_eberhartFORT PAYNE, Ala.—If elected on Aug. 23, 2016, Fort Payne City Councilman Johnny Eberhart will make the next term on the city council his last, he announced at a candidate forum hosted by Fort Payne newspaper the Times Journal on Thursday night.

“With Walt (Councilman Walter Watson) stepping down, I guess that makes me the most senior member of this council,”  Eberhart said. “I’ve enjoyed serving the people of Fort Payne and want to continue to do that over the next four years. But at the end of next term I’m ready to pass the torch on to a younger generation. That’s why I’m announcing tonight that if I’m elected it will be my last.”

Councilman Walter Watson announced last week that he had made the decision to step out of the race. Each nearing the ends of their fifth terms in office, Watson and Eberhart are the two longest-serving members on the Fort Payne City Council. Elected the same year in 1996, the two men have become good friends over the past 20 years. Watson said Eberhart’s decision to serve another term is one of the things that reassured him that he would not be hurting the the council or the city when he decided to step down from the race to give others a chance to serve. Watson said knowing he was leaving the council in good hands gives him a sense of peace about the decision that would not have been there otherwise.

eberhart2“Johnny (Councilman Eberhart) and I were elected at the same time 20 years ago,” Watson told Southern Torch in an interview earlier this week. “Knowing that he plans to be around for another four years gives me a great sense of comfort about my decision to step down. I know that he will be there to mentor and teach the new council members as they are adjusting and will provide, along with some of the other incumbents, the leadership, experience and guidance the city of Fort Payne needs from its leaders to continue to grow and prosper. Dana (Fort Payne Council President Dana Goggans) and I have both elected to step out of the race, but we still some really good candidates left on the ballot. We still have some really good incumbents like Johnny and I hope the people of Fort Payne will choose to support them on election day.”

Southern Torch will profile Councilman Johnny Eberhart in next week’s print edition of Southern Torch.

Editor’s note: Managing Editor Tyler Pruett took the time to speak with Councilman Walter Watson for a story that is available online here and will be available at newsstands tomorrow in the Friday, Aug. 5 print edition of Southern Torch. In our article, Watson, the first African American elected to office in Fort Payne history, speaks candidly about the good and the bad. He talks about racism and even recounts a story about being visited by the Ku Klux Klan at a council meeting.

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