January 6, 2020 Smyrna: Incoming mayor Derek Norton (left) leads the applause for outgoing mayor Max Bacon who waves farewell after thanking friends, family, and supporters over the decades during the swearing in ceremony for the new mayor and City Council at Smyrna City Hall on Monday, January 6, 2020, in Smyrna. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/Curtis Compton
Photo: Curtis Compton/Curtis Compton

Smyrna’s new mayor to advocate for a ‘refresh’ of downtown

After three decades, new leadership is running Smyrna.

On Monday, Mayor Derek Norton took the oath of office at City Hall along with the new City Councilmen, Glenn Pickens of Ward 1; Austin Wagner of Ward 2; and Travis Lindley of Ward 3.

Returning Council members Charles Welch of Ward 4; Susan Wilkinson of Ward 5; Tim Gould of Ward 6; and Lewis Wheaton of Ward 7 were also sworn in.

Norton succeeds Max Bacon, who decided not to seek re-election after serving 34 years in office. Before turning the gavel over to Norton, Bacon used his final moments at the dais Monday night to recognize his family, friends and the citizens who supported him and his long-running tenure in public service.

Bacon served one term on the Smyrna City Council before he began his tenure as mayor. He became mayor in 1985 after his father, Arthur T. Bacon, died in office.

“If you’re up here for any other reason than to serve the public, then you’re up here for the wrong reason,” he said. “It’s all about the people who are in the audience right now.”

January 6, 2020 Smyrna: Outgoing mayor Max Bacon thanks friends, family, and supporters from over the decades before exiting office during the swearing in ceremony for the new mayor and City Council at Smyrna City Hall on Monday, January 6, 2020, in Smyrna. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/Curtis Compton

Norton praised Bacon for his service to Smyrna, which during his role as mayor transformed from a tiny bedroom community to a bustling Atlanta suburb in southern Cobb County.

“Thank you for all you’ve done for me,” Norton said.

Norton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he wants the city to slow high-density development, which he said was a topic of concern expressed by residents during his campaign.

He also said he wants the city to offer pay raises for police and fire department employees, which he said will help with recruiting and retention efforts.

January 6, 2020 Smyrna: Mayor Derek Norton speaks with Charles Welch, Ward 4, looking on during the City Council meeting at Smyrna City Hall on Monday, January 6, 2020, in Smyrna. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/Curtis Compton

Norton said he will advocate for a “refresh” of the city’s downtown, which would include an amphitheater. He said he wants to implement an economic development plan that would encourage more local restaurants to open in the central business district.

“We were pioneers, but we run the risk of getting stale,” he said.

Another priority would be to allocate sales tax revenue to make improvements on the west side of South Cobb Drive and along Oakdale Road, which Norton said will help residents living on that side of town feel like they are connected with the city.


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Smyrna’s municipal election exposed deep divisions among city residents, and Norton said he will use his first term in office to try to heal those fractures.

“I think that’s the biggest challenge, and we’ll do that through good governing and good programming that caters to everyone who lives, works and plays in Smyrna,” he said.

January 6, 2020 Smyrna: Incoming Mayor Derek Norton introduces his wife Laura Goss and their children Samantha, 4, and Jack, 3, as Superior Court Judge Ann Harris prepares to administer the oath of office during the swearing in ceremony for the Mayor and City Council at Smyrna City Hall on Monday, January 6, 2020, in Smyrna. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/Curtis Compton

Norton, 43, is the director of government relations for the Medical Association of Georgia. He was first elected to the City Council in 2015. He graduated from Sprayberry High School and has a bachelor’s degree in international business from the University of Georgia. Norton serves on the board of trustees at Smyrna First United Methodist Church.

He and wife, Laura, have two children, Samantha and Jack.

Norton said he’s excited to work with the City Council to build upon the legacy Bacon created.

“The sky’s the limit for the city of Smyrna,” Norton added.

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