Cleveland Mayor-elect Kevin Brooks appeared for a post-election question-and-answer session during a Rotary Club of Cleveland luncheon Tuesday at the Museum Center.The Q&A was hosted by Rotarian …
Cleveland Mayor-elect Kevin Brooks appeared for a post-election question-and-answer session during a Rotary Club of Cleveland luncheon Tuesday at the Museum Center.
The Q&A was hosted by Rotarian Cameron Fisher.
Brooks, who currently represents the 24th District in the Tennessee House of Representatives, was elected mayor in last week's elections. He will be sworn in to office on Monday, Sept. 10, at 3 p.m.
Fisher asked Brooks about his background.
The Marietta, Georgia, native said Cleveland became his new hometown when he moved here in 1986 to attend Lee University.
“Cleveland adopted me years ago,” Brooks said.
Although the future state representative and mayor was interested in politics, Lee did not offer a political science major at the time.
“I majored in history,” Brooks said. “It was the closest thing I could get to politics.”
The politics bug bit Brooks prior to moving to Cleveland to attend college.
“I wrote papers about the Kennedys and President Reagan and all things political,” Brooks said.
However, a visit to U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn’s Senate office during a high school class trip to Washington solidified Brooks’ interest in a future life in politics.
“He allowed me to sit in his chair,” Brooks said of the Democratic senator from Georgia. “He said, ‘Sen. Brooks, this could be your chair.’”
He never forgot that moment. It’s a sentiment he passes on to visitors who stop by his Nashville office.
“Now, I invite people to sit in my chair,” Brooks said.
Although he is proud of his accomplishments during 12 years as a state representative, Brooks said he will not miss the job, which required him to work in Nashville for much of the year. However, he did mention that he will miss the friends and colleagues he has made over the years.
He will be grateful to be home with his family.
“My biggest accomplishment is my family,” Brooks said. “In spite of being gone all the time, my family flourished.”
Brooks does mention pride in sponsoring legislation that helped secure funds for the planned Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home. The process, according to Brooks, was not easy, especially when federal funds were involved.
“It was a fight,” Brooks said.
Funding that was recently granted to Cleveland State Community College for its capital building program was also a source of pride.
“The money for Cleveland State will be transformational,” Brooks said.
Considering his next job, Brooks said he will surround himself with smart people, as well as continue reaching out to younger generations of Cleveland residents.
“There are thousands of Clevelanders who only know Mayor Rowland,” Brooks said. "He’s been the only mayor for 28 years.”
In addition, Brooks said he will work diligently to listen to the visions his constituents have regarding the future of the city.
“My vision is going to begin very quickly,” Brooks said. “But it’s not a one-sided vision; it’s a citywide vision.”
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