ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The mayors of North Fulton County said goodbye Nov.29 at Ruth’s Chris Steak House to one of their own, Roswell Mayor Jere Wood, at the mayors’ last North Fulton Mayors Meeting.
It was billed as a “roast” for the outgoing Wood.
Wood is ending his 20-year run as Roswell’s mayor. Nestled between Thanksgiving and the holiday season, it was a festive atmosphere with no real agenda save to bid goodbye to their outgoing brother.
Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker led off the banter. He recalled the sparrings he had with Wood in the days leading up to Johns Creek’s cityhood.
Bodker, then the representative from the Johns Creek Community Association, would debate with Wood to convince neighborhoods to join this new city rather than agree to be annexed into Roswell.
“Jere wanted to annex everything from Holcomb Bridge Road up to [and including] Country Club of the South. He was the seasoned politician and I was just this guy picked by the JCCA to convince communities to come into this new city we had envisioned,” said Bodker. “And Jere would kick my [butt] every time.”
“So finally, I asked the guy who today is mayor of Sandy Springs now, Rusty Paul, what the heck was I doing wrong? Rusty told me to quit answering Jere’s questions at these meetings and start telling people why they should be in Johns Creek,” Bodker said.
“Then I started kicking his [butt],” Bodker said. “We got all the neighborhoods west of Ga. 400. Then we got our water sewage treatment plant built and put it in Roswell. And then they named it after Johns Creek [the Johns Creek Environmental Campus].”
Wood said there was a silver lining to losing all those neighborhoods to Bodker and Johns Creek. In his third term for re-election he narrowly won the race in a runoff.
“I lost every precinct west of Ga. 400. If I had gotten some more of those Johns Creek neighborhoods I probably would have lost eight years ago,” Wood said.
“But serving as mayor of Roswell has been one of the great joys of my life and the most productive,” he said. “But I am not sad to be leaving. Driving back home from Florida to come here, I heard a song on the radio, ‘Keep on the Sunny Side of Life.’ That’s North Fulton.”
Wood said he served with three mayors in Alpharetta and watched as they transformed that small town into a vibrant city.
“You have transformed Alpharetta,” he said.
He thanked three of his city council members in the audience, Jerry Orlans, Nancy Diamond and Don Horton (who had stepped down to run this year for Wood’s seat as mayor).
They returned the thanks. Jerry Orlans, the longest-serving member of Roswell City Council, noted he and the mayor “butted heads” a few times over the years.
“But it was always interesting and fun as we worked to make the city better,” Orlans said.
Diamond thanked Wood for his mentorship during her time on council – Diamond is rotating off this year.
“You dared me to dive into the deep water,” she said.
Diamond was referring to the opening of Roswell’s indoor pool for senior citizens. Wood challenged Diamond and the other dignitaries at the ribbon-cutting to jump in the pool with their clothes on.
“You dunked me in the deep end of the pool, and I lost my fear of public speaking,” Diamond said.