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Mayor: ‘I’m sorry’

Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson finally said it Thursday — words that many in the city had never heard her utter, and words she hopes will secure her second term when voters go to the polls in the municipal elections Tuesday.

“I have made several mistakes,” Williamson told a gathering of Civitan members. “I am sorry for the blemish it put on the city of Demopolis. I am better prepared than I was then to lead.”

With those few words, Williamson dismissed the legal woes that plagued her for a more than a year after she was indicted for theft of city services for illegally receiving health insurance benefits paid by the city.

Williamson instead focused on the growth of Demopolis over the past four years, as well as her team-building and networking skills.

“I have built relationships with leaders all over the region and state,” Williamson said. “Those relationships help bring industry and retail businesses to Demopolis and the Black Belt area.”

Williamson said she has a vision for the city that she’s intent on seeing come to fruition.

“I am passionate about our community,” Williamson said. “I have been involved in our community since high school. I love this community, and I will work hard, smart and long for this city.”

Her accomplishments in little less than four years are substantial. During Williamson’s term as mayor, Demopolis has received $3.5 million in grants.

But there is more to be done, Williamson said, explaining the Northeast drainage project is still in the works — a project that will aid some of Demopolis’s poorest residents.

“In some places, the sewer breaks the ground. There is standing water in some yards and on some streets,” she said. “Nobody in this town deserves to live like that. I think we will get that project because of the relationships I’ve built over my first term.”

Williamson’s most ambitious project, a proposed workforce development center in partnership with Alabama Southern Community College, may be included in the 2010 state education budget.

“I have been assured by (two-year college chancellor) Dr. Bradley Burns that this center is a priority,” Williamson said. “I believe he is a man of his word, and I believe we are going to get it.”

Williamson said the city will take steps to secure that funding for the center is secured, including moving forward with an architect for the center as well as site preparation.