With the recent discussions on our elections here in Buford, I thought it fitting to write about how we came to have a city council of three.  The first step, which many of you know already, was the creation of the town of Buford by the State Legislature on August 24, 1872.  Six commissioners were approved through this act of the General Assembly:  Adam Pool, A. G. Harris, John F. Espy, W. R. Chamblee, J.R. Stringer, and J. A. Pattillo.  The power was granted to the commissioners: “…at their first meeting, elect from their body a president, treasurer, and clerk, and appoint a marshal and all other officers that they may think proper to carry this act into full execution…” (State of Georgia, General Assembly minutes).

According to Handsel Morgan’s book Historic Buford, our first mayor in 1874 was W. B. Haygood, who was succeeded in 1876 by J. E. Cloud.  It is believed that certain provisions were made on the local level without specific legislative authority to create the position of mayor.  A new charter was issued in 1896, changing the name from the “Town of Buford” to the “City of Buford,” including legislative provisions for both mayor and council.

Unfortunately, records are sketchy at best for the early years governing our prosperous town, but it appears that we varied from three to six councilmen up until 1904.  From that point, Buford elected six councilmen consistently until 1938.  In 1939 Buford made significant changes within its governmental organization, including the reduction from six to only three elected councilmen.  The position of mayor was eliminated, opting for a city manager-commission form or government.  By this time, the duties resting with the board were so exhaustive that a dedicated paid position was desired to execute the city’s business.  Also, by creating a streamlined approach, continued growth was guaranteed for the city.  The first city manager was Vernon W. Crawford, hired by the commission for $1800 per year.  It is interesting to note that there have only been eight city managers since 1939:  Vernon Crawford (1939-40), W. L. Brogdon (1941-47), H. Jack Turner (1947-52), J. C. Dover (1952-74), Bobby Kerlin (1974-81), Earley Biffle (1981-1990), Mitch Peevy (1990-93), Bobby Kerlin (1993-2001) and Bryan Kerlin (2001 –  present).

   Minutes from the Georgia Assembly in 1872
 Minutes from the Georgia Assembly in 1872

Much of my research comes from the work compiled by Handsel Morgan in Historic Buford.  We now have fresh copies of the book, which is recently out of print, available at both Buford City Hall and the Museum on sale for $35.  All checks are to be payable to the City of Buford.  There are limited, signed copies at the Museum, which is open for operation from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.

Just a side note:  While reading the original charter for the Town of Buford, I thought it was interesting that certain provisions were made for a “town tax.”  “Be it further enacted, That said commissioners shall have power to levy a tax, annually, of not more than twenty dollars upon each grocery or liquor shop, ball alley, billiard table, or any other table of like character, which may be set up in said corporation” (State of Georgia, General Assembly minutes).   At those prices, I think I will operate one of each…maybe two.

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