MARIETTA — It was a standing-room-only crowd in the 600-plus seat Jennie T. Anderson Theatre that helped give an “ooh-rah” to a retired Marine colonel, Mike Boyce, who can now call himself Cobb County’s newest commission chairman.
The cheer came after The Kingsmen, a group of singers from Boyce’s church, Mt. Bethel United Methodist, performed the Marine Corps Hymn during his swearing-in ceremony, which had Cobb State Court Judge Marsha Lake administer the oath of office to Boyce.
Also participating in the ceremony was the Rev. Jody Ray of Mt. Bethel, who gave the invocation; the Cobb County Police Honor Guard, which presented the colors; the Rev. Henry Holley, a World War II veteran who led the Pledge of Allegiance; and the Rev. Nelson Price, pastor emeritus at Roswell Street Baptist Church, who gave the benediction.
The new chairman began his remarks by tracing his lineage, from his father’s side that arrived in the U.S. on a ship bringing English commoners to the shores of New England, to his mother’s side of the family whose history goes back to a Portuguese island in the Atlantic. Both sides, he said, featured family members who went on to serve in uniform, and it was from both families that he would learn the meaning of “hard work, integrity and patriotism.”
His story, he said, could be the story of anyone in the audience.
“I stand here today as an example of what can be done if you believe in the American people, marshal their power and lead them in a battle to fight for the American dream. It is a dream that is inclusive and open to all,” Boyce said. “That dream is the belief that everyone is a stakeholder in their government. It is an inherent belief that all public servants, elected or appointed, work for the people. It is a noble cause where daily our public servants know they are making a difference in creating a better world.”
Boyce, after those words, emphasized the presence in the audience of those who serve in the armed forces today, as well as those who contribute to their community and country in a variety of ways, from state representatives and senators, school board members, county staff and commissioners.
Among those in attendance was Boyce’s predecessor, Tim Lee, who Boyce highlighted by name at the start of his remarks.
“I want to thank Chairman Tim Lee for not only coming today but also for doing so much to make this transition so easy and so meaningful,” Boyce said, adding that Lee had met every commitment he had made to his eventual successor since Boyce became the chairman-elect after winning July’s GOP runoff between the two.
“I think that goes to the mark of the man, that he gave his word and lived up to it,” Boyce added.
Michael Murphy, who helped lead Boyce’s transition team, served as the event’s master of ceremonies. Murphy wore on his lapel a red carnation, which he said he was honored to do because he knew Boyce and his commitment to the things that were important to him.
“Those of you that know the meaning of a red carnation is that of love and affection,” Murphy said. “I think of that with you (Boyce) because I know, and many of us do, know of your love and affection for your God, your family, and Cobb County, and I know you will not hesitate to do what needs to be done that will give us hope, pride and satisfaction in knowing that you’re the man.”
Boyce will be the only new face on the Cobb Board of Commissioners in 2017, as the two other offices that came up for election this year, the District 2 seat held by Bob Ott and the District 4 seat held by Lisa Cupid, saw their respective office-holders re-elected.
“I think it’s going to be a really good group of people,” said Ott, who attended Friday’s ceremony. “I’ve spent a lot of time over the last five or six weeks talking and meeting with the new chairman, and I think that we see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, so I look forward to being able to continue to have the dialogue that we have. I look forward to working with him.”
Cupid, the board’s sole Democrat, also was in attendance.
“Regardless of party, it’s about people first. Partisanship has never really played a part for me on the board,” Cupid said. “I think we’re here for the people of Cobb County, and that trumps whatever our political affiliation is, and the comments I heard Mike share today seem to have affirmed that, that we’re here to make sure all people of Cobb County feel the county is the place for them, that they’re all served well, and that we serve well with all who serve Cobb.”
Boyce said Friday’s swearing-in ceremony would not have been possible without a number of volunteers and others who helped him on his campaign. He also thanked his wife, Judy, for being at his side during it all.
“She made me a better man, and she’s one hell of a campaign warrior,” he said.
And perhaps fittingly, Boyce paraphrased a line from his favorite movie, “Patton,” in recognition of those who helped him.
“All I’m going to say is, ‘God, I love you men and women,’” he said. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me.”
Among those in attendance were state Sen. Michael Rhett, D-Marietta; state Reps. Sharon Cooper, R-east Cobb, and Ed Setzler, R-Acworth; Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman, Cobb Superior Court Judges Robert Leonard, Tain Kell and Senior Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs; Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, Cobb school board members David Banks and Randy Scamihorn, Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds, former county Chairman Bill Byrne, Cobb Tax Commissioner Carla Jackson, County Manager David Hankerson, Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn, Deane Bonner, president of the Cobb NAACP; Cobb GOP Chair Rose Wing and Cobb Chamber of Commerce CEO David Connell.