It was business as usual on a cold, misty and foggy Wednesday in Lula the day after voters called for change by electing a new mayor.
In between lunch and dinner, At The Tracks restaurant owner Bruce Johnson and his employee Mary Jordan were done getting the tables elegantly set up for the next round of customers.
Asked about the change in leadership, Johnson said he doesn’t live in Lula and likes to stay neutral when it comes to local politics.
Johnson said Mayor-elect Jim Grier and the departing Mayor Milton Turner regularly eat at the restaurant on Main Street. The restaurateur said he politely told each man that they could not place signs on his property during the campaign.
“We’re friends with all them,” Johnson said. “I’m happy for Mr. Grier and I’m sad for Mr. Turner.”
Jordan said Turner was mayor when she lived in Lula and attended North Hall schools. She has since moved away and does not vote in local elections.
“He (Turner) was mayor all the time I lived in Lula,” Jordan said of the four-term incumbent who was first elected mayor in 2001.
Opened for business a year now, Napoli’s Pizza owner Giuseppe Scotto said he’s made a large investment at the building he owns and remodeled for his restaurant on Athens Street because he thinks Lula is strategically positioned for future growth. Scotto lives outside Lula and does not follow local politics. Frankly, he doesn’t think the change from one mayor to another is going to make a difference as far as he’s concerned.
“Look at Gainesville, it’s built out,” Scotto said. “It’s too expensive to buy or build there. That’s why growth will come to Lula.”
A poultry farmer and real estate investor, the 56-year-old Turner could not be reached for comment.
Grier said that after Tuesday night’s vote count he spoke with Turner.
“He was very gracious as he always is,” Grier said. “He congratulated me and offered to help in the transition.”
City Manager Dennis Bergin said he and Grier have already talked about meeting to bring Grier up to speed on city business.
“I don’t know how quick he wants to jump in with both feet,” Bergin said. “We’ve talked about it, so hopefully we’ll get together some day soon.”
Grier officially takes office Jan. 1, which is a holiday. Bergin said Grier could be sworn in prior to that.