Mayor-Elect Teresa Tomlinson gets up close and personal

Published: Dec. 2, 2010 at 1:54 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2010 at 2:00 PM EST
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By Roslyn Giles  - email | bio

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Teresa Tomlinson graduated from Chamblee High Public School in DeKalb County in 1983.  She always had an interest in government serving on student government committees through her high school and college years. She attributes Chamblee's large, diverse population with enlightening her perspective on life.

"We had a little bit of everything. We were one of the dozen or so high schools in the United States that had Vietnam refugees that came to our school and were simulated there; so I had a wonderful and broad background and upbringing."

Her initial goal was to study chemical engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. At the last minute, she switched gears and for an exciting new adventure, unlike her high school experience with hundreds of other students.

"Sweet Briar College in Lynchburg, Virginia is a small, private school that's in a very isolated area. I was so excited to go somewhere that I had never been before, to see people I didn't know and just see what life was like."  She studied Government and Economics as a double major with a minor in Business Management.

Tomlinson graduated at the top of her class, Cum Laude in 1987 and returned home to pursue a career in law.

"Nobody in my family had ever gone to law school. My mother didn't graduate from high school, my father had of course, gone to college (UGA). But I never really started out to be a lawyer. In taking government classes and economics, I really developed a passion for the law. I guess it's like some people very naturally understand languages and math. I very much understood government and economics, how they interacted, how they affected people's lives.  I just got it from the very beginning."

Tomlinson received her law degree from Emory University in Atlanta.  She landed a job with Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick, Morrison and Norwood, LLP in her hometown. The firm also had an office in Columbus, but for the first two years Tomlinson learned the legal ropes working in the state capital.

"It's the funniest thing; I was by far the youngest and everything I did before it could leave the building, it had to go to the lawyers on the fifth floor."

"I was living with my sister and I would come home and say, that Trip Tomlinson, he's rewritten my briefs and rewritten my letters. Then, I moved to Columbus and one day I was on the phone with my sister and, I said, I have to go; I have a date. She said, with whom?  I said, with Trip Tomlinson.  Then, there's this long pause and she said, don't we hate him?  I responded, not as much anymore."

Both Trip and Teresa were eventually transferred to the Columbus Office. The two married in 1997.

After 16 years of practicing law, Teresa decided to take a sabbatical, but was asked to head up Midtown, Inc., a community-oriented organization that works to improve the infrastructure, residential and business aspects on Wynnton Road in Columbus.

It wasn't until a year and a half ago that she set her sights on the Mayor's seat. People who knew me would say, "You should run for Mayor." After hearing it so many times, Tomlinson said she conducted her own survey asking approximately150 people who didn't have the same views as she did. The results were favorable.

In January, Tomlinson announced her candidacy for Mayor. She won Tuesday night in a runoff election against Minister Zeph Baker.   Now, she said she wants to make the great city she immediately fell in love with greater. 

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