City of Decatur commissioner Jim Baskett is now the mayor of Decatur.
Baskett was elected mayor after former mayor Bill Floyd resigned Jan. 7. Baskett was elected to the Decatur Board of Commission in 1995 and served as mayor pro tem from 2002-2012. Baskett, who praised Floyd for his 13 years of service as mayor, said he had felt prepared to take over as mayor for some time.
“I supported Bill,” Baskett said. “Bill was a great leader, a strong leader and just what the city of Decatur needed. But I feel I can do the job.”
The Stone Mountain native, who studied social ethics and political thought at Emory University, said he ran for a commission seat because he felt like he had a lot to offer to the city.
“I thought I could provide a lot of energy and experience,” he said. “And I especially had experience with budgeting.”
A founder of the DeKalb Library Foundation, he served as chair of the DeKalb County Library System board of trustees where he gained his experience with budgeting.
“The [Decatur] budget at that time was not much greater than the budget I had been working with the DeKalb County Library,” he said. “So I felt that I came with some knowledge of responsibility.”
Baskett is also a graduate of Leadership DeKalb and the Regional Leadership Institute. He served on the board of directors of Our House Inc., Leadership DeKalb, and the Heart Association. He is a past president of the South Candler Street Neighborhood Association and was active in the Winnona Park Neighbors Association.
“My political career was an extension of a lot of the work I was doing as a volunteer,” he said.
As commissioner he has served on the task forces for greenspace, infill housing, and Scottish Rite redevelopment, zoning update, preservation corridor and the Woodlands Committee.
The Avondale High School graduate also has a master of divinity from The Candler School of Theology. Baskett and his wife, Mickey, live in the historic South Candler district.
As mayor, Baskett said he wants the city of Decatur to work with DeKalb County to fix the challenges both the city of Decatur and the county are facing.
“We can’t continue to prosper if DeKalb County doesn’t prosper,” he said. “I want us to work with DeKalb County, especially DeKalb County schools. We have to make sure we don’t see a decline in people’s perception of what’s happening in DeKalb County.”
Baskett said the biggest challenge is the DeKalb County school district. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the DeKalb school district on “accreditation probation” until Dec. 31.
“As problems continue to unfold with DeKalb County schools we get more and more pressure on the population of our schools,” he said. “So we have to start working with the school board. I see the next couple of years as us working very closely with our school board to work through the challenges they face, and us working very closely with DeKalb County with the challenges we face together.”