Curtain draws on Elam#8217;s tenure as Ironton mayor

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 30, 2007

After four years of coming to the same place everyday, John Elam is cleaning out his office.

The desk is cleared off and mementos like a painting of Elam and President Bush are packed away.

Today is Elam’s final day as mayor of Ironton and looking back, he said there is a lot he is proud of.

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“As I have frequently said, challenges present opportunities,” he said. “Coming into a city that was near fiscal emergency, being able to work and overcome the obstacles, that has probably been the greatest success we have had.”

He said it has been a team approach to moving Ironton forward. And in that he includes everyone from his administrative assistant Katrina Keith to the city council to the city department heads and workers to the Ironton Port Authority.

“People have to recognize that to function well a city has to be transparent, there needs to be team members and that we all have roles,” he said, adding that while there are limited fiscal and human resources, they have been able to accomplish a lot with getting the city’s infrastructure improved, including widening the flood gates on Center Street, twice repairing the sewer line on Railroad Street, the future Riverfront project, getting facades improved in downtown and getting the Ironton Iron/Intermet site into the city’s hands so the 26 acres could be used for commercial purposes.

One of the things he was happiest to see was the addition of several restaurants in recent years.

“It seems to me that people follow their stomachs,” he said. “I know we are having a whole lot more visitors than we did four years ago.”

Elam said one frequent question he has been asked, because he was only finishing up his first term in office, is why didn’t he run for a second term. The answer was simple for him: his children.

Both his son, Aaron, and his daughter, Molly, are teenagers who are involved in a lot of activities.

And Elam wanted to be there for them.

“My family has been real patient with me and supported the challenge of making a difference,” he said. “My primary job before mayor is being a dad. You don’t hold onto them forever and I want to be selfish and share a lot of my time with my family.”

The next big question was did he have another job.

Elam said he has applied for jobs and is in the middle of the application process and did not want to elaborate.

“I have talked to a few employers,” he said.

As for the new mayor, Rich Blankenship, who will be sworn in on Saturday, Elam said he wishes him the best and hopes he and the new city council can continue the forward momentum the city has developed. And Elam has said he would be available if Blankenship had any questions.

“I have told Blankenship that I would be glad to help him out and gave him my wage rate,” Elam said with a laugh. “I thank my wife and children for giving me the support I needed.

“I believe in my heart a difference has been made. During my administration, a foundation was built and now the city can begin the process of rebuilding, growth and revitalization. The city is progressing forward and I wish Mayor Blankenship all the best as he continues the forward momentum the city has grown accustomed to.”