CLERMONT, Fla. — For the first time ever, the city of Clermont in Lake County has an African-American mayor.
Tim Murry was sworn in last week after his history-making victory on election night.
Having grown up in the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood- when racism was prevalent- Murry says he never thought he’d see a black police chief or mayor in Clermont
“If you’re black, and you get caught out at night, you either get beaten up, sent home, or you may not return home at all,” Murry recalls.
Even during the daylight hours, Murry remembers not being allowed to even travel outside his neighborhood without drawing attention.
“Police stopped me and asked me where I was going, and if they didn’t believe I was going to cut the lawn, I was going to a house to do some work...they would actually escort me to the house.”
However, Murry says he knew he wanted to make something of himself, and make his community better.
As a young man, Murry joined the United States Air Force, serving more than 20 years.
After leaving the service, Murry returned to Clermont and got a job at the Postal Service, where he’s worked the last 21-years.
Since his return, he’s earned a Master’s Degree and gotten involved in community organizations helping the needy, fighting drug abuse, and working to change things for the better.
“I think we introduced the city to the Marlin Luther King Day celebration about 10 years ago,” Murry says.
It was through Murry’s community work that others encouraged him to run for office.
He unsuccessfully ran for city council twice before deciding to try for mayor.
Murry would win a tight race- decided by fewer than 200 votes- to become the first African-American Mayor of Clermont.
Murry says one of his main goals as mayor is to improve workforce housing. He says he wants to make sure working people can afford to live in Clermont and enjoy life there.