Longtime Thomson City Councilman Kenneth Usry has aspirations of becoming the next mayor of the Camellia City of the South.
Although Mr. Usry's political intentions have been mentioned within political circles for several months, he had not made an official comment until Monday. His announcement came in the form of a press release.
"I have watched our city grow and prosper during the last 29 years that I have served on the council," Mr. Usry, 59, said in an interview with The McDuffie Mirror. "I am ready to offer my talents as an experienced businessman, council member and community leader to help take Thomson to the next level."
Robert E. Knox Jr., the current mayor of Thomson, has publicly stated on several occasions that he will not be seeking re-election.
"This is a decision I made after learning from Bob that he would not be running again," Mr. Usry said. "We've both always had the understanding that I would never run against him. It's always been a desire of mine to hold that office someday."
An election committee already has been formed and isbusy planning for the upcoming election, he noted.
Mr. Usry, a local banker since 1978, said he believes the City of Thomson "is the envy of many in the CSRA, because we have good sound leaders in place working together. As a result, we have received millions of dollars in federal and state grants to extend water and sewer lines, expand water treatment capacity, improve the airport and begin neighborhood revitalization that otherwise would have to be paid for with local tax dollars."
He pledges to continue such a tradition.
"If elected mayor, I will continue to provide the kind of leadership we have grown accustomed to in Thomson," added Mr. Usry, a Glascock County native, who has made Thomson his home for the past 55 years. "I love Thomson and I want to make it the kind of city everybody will feel proud of and want to live here. I want Thomson to be city living, country-style - just like our signs read at the city limits."
Mr. Usry believes wholeheartedly in people working together.
"People who pull together, who communicate about problems and who make an earnest effort to work together, are most often successful in solving problems and completing projects that make our community a great place to live," Mr. Usry said.
A 1966 graduate of Thomson High School, Mr. Usry has served on Thomson City Council for the past 29 years. He plans to qualify for the mayoral post on the first day that candidates are eligible to sign up for the November election.
Mr. Usry, who currently serves as mayor pro-tem - a position he has held since 1982 - says he plans to seek the office of mayor by walking and talking one-on-one with as many people as he can visit door-to-door.
"I want to go around and shake the hands of those I talk to and asks for their support," Mr. Usry said. "I want to stay and visit with them and understand what their concerns and visions are for our city."
Three of his top priorities, if elected mayor, would involve seeing downtown revitalization completed, continued annexation and rehabilitation of sub-standard housing.
Mr. Usry, who is in charge of commercial lending for Regions Bank in several area counties, has been active as a leader in Thomson his entire adult life. He is former chairman and a current member of the Thomson-McDuffie County Chamber of Commerce. He also is a former recipient of the Darrell Johnson Award for Community Service, former president and a current member of the Thomson Rotary Club, former president of the Thomson Kiwanis Club and current chairman of the Thomson Downtown Development Authority.
Additionally, Mr. Usry also is a member of Thomson-McDuffie County Development Authority and former president and a current member of the Thomson High School Bulldog Club.
He has been married to his wife, Kathy, for 32 years. The couple has a son, Grant, who currently attends Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Fla.