Crystal Springs makes history with the election of its first female mayor.
It is a dream come true for Sally Garland who for years envisioned what she would do if she could lead the town.
Newly elected Crystal Springs Mayor Sally Garland moves from the Director of Parks and Recreation's office to City Hall.
For 15 years she headed the Parks and Recs Department while yearning to do more.
In mid October, the opportunity came when Mayor Arthur Evans resigned to become Executive Director of the Copiah County Economic Development Council.
Garland was returning from visiting her son in Africa when news came.
"When I first started getting text messaging when I got back into the country those were the first things that I was seeing on my phone and I thought oh my goodness, oh my goodness. Is this it? Is this the time," Garland recalled.
It was her first run for public office.
Record voter turnout put her 380 votes ahead of her closest opponent.
The 48 year old married mother of three sons said she sought advice from other female mayors in the metro area and garnered support from residents like her church members who created a collage of her work in the town and paid for a full page campaign ad.
Garland is the first woman elected mayor in the town's 153 year history.
Crystal Springs has more than 5,800 residents.
"We have an eye for making things beautiful and attractive, and that is economic development," Garland said. "I believe that we will bring people to our town and make them want to be here."
Now she said it's time to get down to the business of bringing business to Crystal Springs.
"We can make it a place where it's a bedroom to Jackson where people want to come live, where people want to come shop and maybe even open up a business," said Mayor Garland.
Her husband, business owner Gates Garland, supports her plans to fill empty downtown buildings.
"We've got a lot of empty spaces and it's tough," Gates Garland said. "I've been fortunate to hang and I'm still here and I love my job and I love the small town. Something happens everybody in town knows in 10 minutes and we're tight, and you've got people to watch your back. You don't have that in the big city."
The eighth generation Copiah countian's first wants to transform the town's entryway by adding greenery.
"We've got a big sea of asphalt in our Front Street downtown area I believe that can be worked on and made beautiful, things that will not cost us so much," Garland said.
Around 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, minutes after municipal votes were certified, City Attorney Bob Lawrence issued Garland the oath of office.
She must immediately get to work.
The town has been operating with an interim mayor for about two months.
And on the campaign trail the long time government employee learned there is a common desire.
"Everyone in our town wants the same thing, a nice clean safe place to live," Garland said.
Official certified results gave Garland the victory with 786 votes followed by City Alderman Jazma Wheeler's 406 votes while Patrick Guerdan received nine votes.
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