LaGRANGE, Ga. (WRBL) – Longtime LaGrange Mayor, Jim Thornton, has announced his resignation effective Nov. 23, 2022 and describes the decision as “very challenging”.

“I love this city and I have loved serving as Mayor of the city, it has really been the honor of my life to serve in this role; I’m not leaving this position lightly,” said Thornton.

Thornton will be assuming a new position as Director of Governmental Relations for the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) in Atlanta.

The GMA is a membership association that represents all 537 cities in Georgia, Thornton will be representing those cities and ensuring that state policies benefit all of the member cities. He will be representing the cities before the Georgia General Assembly, Governor’s Office and several other organizations.

Thornton will ensure that there are policies passed that address common issues like housing, public safety and economic development.

He has served as Mayor for nearly a decade and said his main focus when running for office was economic development in the city. During his tenure he has overseen several business developments including the popular brewery, Wild Leap, and the family-friendly hotel, Great Wolf Lodge.

“Overall, economic development has been very positive over this decade. While economic development is not the end of itself, you use the resources that economic development brings to invest in the community. We’ve been able to do that, we’ve been able to invest in roads and water and sewer infrastructure,” said Thornton.

He said a major goal he had was to improve the quality of life in the city by adding parks and recreation centers as well as, entertainment areas like Sweetland Amphitheatre.

Despite his departure, Thornton intends to stay local to LaGrange and keep a house in the city and said he is excited to see where the city is headed with his successor.

Dr. Willie Edmondson who has served on the city council for over 20 years will assume the role as Mayor temporarily following Thornton’s departure until a special election is held. Thornton said the special election is tentatively set for March 2023.