SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – If you talk to Mayor Eddie DeLoach or see him at a public event, the first words you often hear from him are “It’s a great day in Savannah.”
Those words became a motto for DeLoach soon after he took office in 2016, as he began to promote change and what he said was mostly a positive change in terms of solving crime problems and promoting more business and job growth.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done here as mayor and as a council,” DeLoach told News 3. “I’m the candidate that’s got the results.”
DeLoach began his tenure in 2016 by building a voting block with four other members, ensuring he would get a majority vote on many issues. That irked and dismayed some on the council who had been there for years and who were not in the “group” like 1st District Alderman Van Johnson who is now challenging DeLoach. Still, the mayor says he worked to build coalitions and that progress has been made for “everybody.”
Several of DeLoach’s challengers say not enough progress has been made for the low income and that DeLoach doesn’t have a true poverty plan. He points to his push last year for an early childhood development learning center which did not materialize. He also says the council has endorsed a plan to deal with blighted homes and is encouraging voters to approve SPLOST VII to provide funding to buy and help rehab up to 1,000 homes over a ten year period.
The mayor also points to the fact that crime is down, i.e. that in 2015 there were 48 homicides and in 2018 that had lowered to 28.
“If you have a family that lost somebody it means something to you that there are fewer people dying,” he told News 3.
He did say that are certainly many problems left to solve: “But our biggest issue is domestic violence right now, we are dealing with gang-related issues but our domestic issue is real and I appreciate Police Chief Minter who has a great program and we’re moving forward with it.”
DeLoach also gives himself and the council high marks for conducting a salary study which indicated employees, especially Savannah Police were being paid salaries that were up to ten percent lower than their regional counterparts. He says the funding for the higher salaries has already been earmarked.
“So, this gives us an opportunity to get a leg up on most everybody not only in that position of officers and firemen and emergency (staff) but also in our general workforce,” said DeLoach. “They were behind also so we need to make sure that we take care of the people that take care of us.”
While talking about what he termed are his many successes, DeLoach also acknowledged some things that didn’t go as planned.
Shortly after taking office in 2016 it’s said that he orchestrated the departure of the city manager at the time, Stephanie Cutter. Rob Hernandez was then hired as City Manager but only stayed for about two years. Hernandez resigned in June and now the city must embark on a new search all over again. DeLoach did indicate some months ago he thought it was only fair to wait until after the November election because “there may be new council members” who would be entitled to be part of the selection process.
DeLoach doesn’t seem to term Hernandez’s short time in Savannah as a failure, however. He says Hernandez did a good job and that progress was made while he was here.
He did acknowledge that he was forced to reverse course last year on the controversial fire fee. But he said it showed his willingness to listen to the concerns and objections of citizens and to change his mind.
DeLoach paints his administration as having far more “successes than
“I would just ask people to give me another shot, I would like another opportunity to serve as mayor, ” DeLoach said.