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'Overwhelming': Friends, city officials honor retiring councilwoman
Hawnethia Williams
Retiring Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams laughs as Mayor Steve Horton gives her a clock as a retirement gift during a reception for her Dec. 13 at the Covington City Council meeting room. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Mayor Steve Horton helped sum up the feelings of many at a retirement reception Monday for Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams.

“She touched my life in so many different ways, as well as the community,” he said.

Williams is leaving her seat representing the Covington City Council’s West Ward after 16 years after not running for reelection to a fifth term this year.

She said she was “just overwhelmed” by the reception Monday, Dec. 13, at the City Council meeting room, which drew about 200 people including friends, family members and city elected and appointed officials.

“My sister said I’m never without words but this is overwhelming,” Williams said.

Williams is a former 37-year educator and a devoted member of Grace United Methodist Church who was elected in 2005.

Horton worked for the city for more than three decades before retiring as city manager in 2012 — seven years after Williams first took office. He then was elected mayor in 2019.

He said Williams’ attitude toward treating others mirrored how he had been taught was the proper order: Jesus first, then others, then yourself, or “J-O-Y.”

“You’ve become a great inspiration in my life,” he said.

Horton also joked about the irony of giving a commemorative clock to someone who was retiring: “You don’t have to worry about the time.”

Councilwoman Susie Keck joked that the first lesson Williams taught her was how to pronounce her first name.

“Haw-nee-thee-uh,” Keck said.

More seriously, Keck also said Williams will continue to serve the community.

“She’s done a lot and she’ll continue to do a lot,” she said.

Williams said she always tried to do what was best for the entire city during her 16 years on the council.

She said she planned to “continue to be an advocate for my community.”

Williams also echoed Horton in saying she tried to put others’ needs before her own as a councilmember.

“When you put yourself first then that’s when things fall apart,” she said. “Never lose your identity, but try to be what the Lord wants you to be.”

She also said she planned to help her successor in the council seat, Charika Davis, adjust to her new elected position. 

Williams had endorsed Davis for the position in this year’s election. Davis takes office Jan. 1.

“Community, give her time,” Williams asked.

“I will continue to mentor (Davis),” she added. “I won’t put her out there and let her swim.”