Festus swears in city's first black mayor

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 | 9:23 a.m. CST; updated 3:47 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 21, 2009

FESTUS — On the same day the nation watched the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, an eastern Missouri city welcomed its first black mayor.

Earl Cook on Tuesday became the first African-American mayor of Festus and the first in all of Jefferson County.

Former Mayor Gene Doyle planned to announce his departure to coincide with Obama's inauguration in Washington. Doyle told a packed room at City Hall that he was stepping down because he thought that change was needed, not because he didn't like being mayor.

Cook had been a council member and mayor pro-tem of the city of 9,600 about 35 miles south of St. Louis.

Cook said he'd rather not be thought of as the African-American mayor, just as the mayor.

He'll hold office until 2010.


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