His wife, Pam Dunn, held the Bible where he rested his hand during the ceremony and two of his children, Brandon, 23, and Blessing, 14, looked on as he took his oath of office. Immediately after he finished, the audience, many of them friends or congregation members of Dunn’s church, erupted into applause that continued as he took his seat with the other councilmen.
“I am excited for him; I’m excited for Anniston and the possibilities for the future,” said Anniston-resident Jim Robbins, who came to the meeting to support Dunn and was one of the first in line to congratulate him after the meeting ended.
His comments were echoed over and over as people at the meeting expressed their excitement at the new appointment and what it might mean for the future of their city.
Councilmen Jay Jenkins and Herbert Palmore and Mayor Gene Robinson reconvened Tuesday’s Anniston City Council meeting Friday to pass a resolution appointing Marcus Dunn to finish the term of former Councilman David Dawson, who resigned on April 24. They unanimously passed the resolution and Dunn was sworn in.
He took his seat with the other councilmen in time to unanimously approve another proposal to have a new official photograph taken of the council members. Both Jenkins and Dunn have taken over terms resigned by the councilmen elected to the seats in 2008.
The meeting was energized by the anticipation of the audience, who came to see Dunn’s installation into office. Even at its conclusion, people lingered. A line of people wanting to congratulate Dunn formed along one wall. City staff took pictures. The chamber was filled with excited voices.
“It’s a new spirit, a new energy, it’s just great,” said Johnny Byrd.
He had already congratulated Dunn, but stayed in the chambers talking excitedly with other people gathered for the meeting. Byrd said he didn’t live in Dunn’s ward, but had developed a friendship with Dunn over his past few years in Anniston and wanted to attend the installation to support his friend but also to observe a historic moment in Anniston.
“This is something that the entire city has an opportunity has a chance to celebrate,” Byrd said. “This is a historical moment for Anniston and most importantly, I believe it’s the right person in the right place at the right time.”
Dunn's appointment to the council gives the council a black majority for the first time in the city's history.
Byrd said the addition of the third black councilman and the appointment process that put him there reflected the wishes of the residents but couldn’t have happened at any other time. That’s why Byrd views it as an important historical event, worthy of examining and celebrating, he said.
But others thought the occasion less historic than a new start of what they hoped would be a more congenial council.
“It’s not a black and white thing; it’s not a rich or poor thing,” said Denise Chandler. “It’s a shift in the whole situation. We don’t need to be fighting.”
Dunn was gratified by the support and cognizant of problems the city has been experiencing. But he said he was proud to be from Anniston.
“Anniston has taken a hard hit,” Dunn said. “Things people say about our city, about our people, I wish they could see a picture of this place. This is a true picture of Anniston. We have great people, loving people, caring people.”
Star staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545.