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Jim Thornton to join Atlanta mayor for town hall on equity and inclusion

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton will join three other mayors and a state representative for a live town hall event on Georgia Public Broadcasting on Aug. 6 from 7-8 p.m.

“Cities United: The Road to Equity and Inclusion,” is being hosted by GPB and the Georgia Municipal Association, a non-profit organization that lobbies on behalf of Georgia’s local governments.

Aside from Thornton, the panelists are Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert and state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus.

A GMA announcement said the town “will begin a statewide conversation on race, equity and inclusion, how these issues impact Georgia’s communities, and how city officials can make equity a priority in their communities.”

Thornton, who serves as first vice president of GMA, said the recent nationwide protests led city leaders across the state to contact GMA leadership and encourage them to provide resources about how to address issues of race and unrest.

GMA has set up a 26-member equity and inclusion commission made up of local officials, which Thornton is co-chairing with Davis. Thornton said their goal is to work together over the next few months, study the issues, “compare notes” and eventually make recommendations to Georgia cities and the state legislature that will “reduce racial tensions, improve outcomes and move us forward as a more united community.”

The purpose of the town hall, he said, is to “begin the dialogue and also set the stage for subsequent meetings of the commission.” Panelists will take questions from local officials around Georgia

Thornton said he was honored to be asked to co-chair the commission.

“These are real issues that face all our cities, of every size and demographic. In some ways, we have been ahead of the curve locally,” Thornton said, citing the Austin Callaway lynching apology, the Racial Trustbuilding organization and initiatives to improve educational outcomes. “But, there’s obviously more work to do.”