NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WJBF)- North Augusta has a new mayor for the first time in 20 years. Bob Pettit officially replaced longtime Mayor Lark Jones Monday evening, when he was sworn in at a City Council meeting.
Bob Pettit, a retired air force colonel and now mayor of North Augusta, never expected to find himself in politics.
“Even six months ago…[this] was not on my radar screen,” he said. “I spent time at council meetings because I cared about the city.”
Pettit says Project Jackson is number one on his agenda. He says he wants to incorporate it with downtown rejuvenation.
North Augusta resident Carleton Vaughn says Pettit is a good neighbor– literally. They live next door to each other.
“When I moved to Hammond’s Ferry, he was so kind to me,” Vaughn said. “He and his wife both. When we moved in it was just wonderful to have him, and I saw what a great guy he was.”
Vaughn’s father served as mayor of the city from 1957-1959, so he has seen firsthand the responsibility Pettit is about to shoulder.
“Bob’s got a great background, and he’s a good leader,” Vaughn said. “And he knows how to utilize a smart people around him. And I’m sure that’s what he will do.”
After Project Jackson, Pettit says updating crucial infrastructure is next on his list. In particular, building a new fire station and a new public safety headquarters.
Lark Jones says he never raised taxes in his two decades as mayor.
Pettit says that’s something the city’s going to have to look at. He points out that some city employees haven’t had a merit raise in nine or ten years.
“They city’s growing,” Pettit said. “But our tax base is growing as well. So there’s hope that we can maintain the level of service that we provide everybody and not raise taxes.”
He says he’s grateful for citizen’s trust in him and hopes to rise to the challenges of governing a rapidly growing city.