Selma City Council member to retire; supports election

Published 7:59 pm Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ward 1 residents could go to the polls three times in 2014.

Party primaries are June 3. The general election is Nov. 4, but a new opening on the Selma City Council could create a third election in 2014.

Councilman Cecil Williamson, who also serves as the pastor of Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church, plans to step down in the coming months as a part of his retirement, but hasn’t set an exact date. His church is searching for a new pastor. Once a pastor is selected, Williamson said he would leave his position as a councilman and begin looking to move closer to his immediate family.

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“Hopefully, it will be in the next few months,” he said. “When the new pastor is selected then, at that time, I will retire. From that point we will probably start looking to move.”

Once Williamson retires, the city council can fill the vacancy in two ways. It can either appoint a new council member or hold a ward-specific election. Williamson said an election would be best for residents of Ward 1.

“I would favor an election, though it costs more, rather than just appointing someone,” he said. “I think the people should choose who is going to represent them.”

Williamson isn’t a Selma native, but calls Selma home after nearly 50 years in the city. He came to Selma in the mid-1960s after graduating from Columbia Theological Seminary, located in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

His first job after attending seminary school was at Alabama Avenue Presbyterian Church. In the late 1960s, he moved to Crescent Hill.

Williamson took his first seat on the Selma City Council in 1980.

“At the time, I ran because the city passed a tax that I was very much opposed to,” he said.

After serving his first term on the council, Williamson didn’t run for another elected position until 1996, when he was elected to a seat on the Dallas County School Board. Williamson was re-elected, but his term was interrupted in 2004, when he successfully ran for a spot on the Selma City Council, a position he holds today. Williamson briefly relinquished his Ward 1 position to become the city council president in 2010.

Local attorney Tommy Atchison replaced Williamson after winning a special election, but didn’t run after his term expired in 2012.

Williamson is one of the more outspoken council members and is a self-described fiscal conservative.

His term likely won’t be over for a few months, but Williamson said curtailing the city’s declining sales tax revenue and selling the St. James Hotel are two goals he feels need to be addressed.

“We have got to find out if businesses are not accurately reporting their sales tax or if we really do have that bad of an economic situation, where sales tax continues to decrease every year,” he said.

Because of a potential move, Williamson’s wife Peggy Williamson took a similar step and decided not to run for re-election on the Dallas County School Board in 2014.