Orlando Montoya, GPB News
The mayor of Plains has resigned after serving 40 years in office.
L.E. Boze Godwin III led the small Southwest Georgia town — home to former President Jimmy Carter and his late wife, Rosalynn — for terms lasting from 1979 through 1984 and 1998 through 2024.
The 80-year-old announced at a council meeting last week that he was stepping down because of health problems.
He says he’s most proud of town residents who helped make the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site a reality.
“I’m proud of the citizens of Plains, all the help that they gave me and the directions that President Carter gave me,” Godwin said. “He didn’t give me political advice but he gave me some directions.”
Godwin says the biggest change in Plains since 1979 is the pride residents take in the town, something he attributes to the Carters.
He noted that all the buildings in downtown Plains have been rehabilitated and are populated with businesses.
The population, however, has remained about the same: about 700 residents.
That’s unusual for many small towns in Georgia, where populations are declining.
He credits Plains’ success to its strong-willed residents.
“I just stayed out of these peoples’ way and let them go,” he said. “Their ideas were better than mine and they had good drive.”
As for the Plains peanut farmer who had the biggest drive of them all, Godwin credits Jimmy Carter with making his time as mayor a little easier.
“People would return your phone calls from Atlanta and Washington,” he said. “Prior to that, they didn’t even know you existed.”
Carter, now 99, remains in hospice care.
Godwin said he has known Carter since Godwin was a 10-year-old in Boy Scouts.
This story comes to the Macon Report through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.