John Koniar began his service to the city in 1980 when he was elected to the city council. He served as mayor pro tem from 1996 until 2006, when he was appointed to serve the remainder of former Mayor Timothy Russell’s term of office. He was re-elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016, and he has participated in almost every council meeting for the past 40 years. Koniar’s calm, steady leadership style included looking for areas of agreement and compromise rather than conflict. His vision and dedication have helped Foley to become the 3rd fastest growing city in our state.
In 1980, Foley was a growing city with 4,000 residents and a budget of roughly $1.5 million. During Koniar’s 26 years as a city councilman, the city swelled to a population of 12,403 by 2006, and the budget soared to $26.4 million.
Accomplishments during this time included the building of the Riviera Outlet Center (now Tanger Outlet Center), the opening of the Foley Beach Express in 2000, expansion of local industry, and business growth that cemented Foley as the restaurant and retail hub of South Baldwin County.
During his 14 years as mayor, the city continued to be one of the fastest growing cities in the state. Foley expects to have a population count in the ongoing census of close to 25,000 and the budget has grown to just under $50 million. New roads; Foley’s entrance into the sports tourism market, which brings over 150 tournaments to the city each year; the opening of OWA and the securing of national retailers have elevated Foley from a small town into a growing municipality. Downtown revitalization efforts—including the Centennial Tower, pedestrian bridge, rose trail, dog park, downtown flower and streetscape improvements, public parking additions and receiving Main Street designation—show that the city is thriving.
Over the years, Koniar efficiently led the city through crises that ranged from hurricanes, economic downturns, floods and an oil spill to this year’s partial closure of the city due to COVID-19.
Koniar has earned his retirement. Not only has he served the city, he is a past chairman of the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and the Foley Optimist Club. He also served as a board member for the Baldwin County Board of Mental Health, The Utilities Board of the City of Foley and the Coastal Resiliency Coalition. He is retired from Vulcan Inc. in Foley.
Koniar will now have more time to enjoy life with his family: wife Linda, three children, five grandchildren, and a large golden retriever named Sadie who thinks she is a lapdog.