'The time has come for a new person'

Posted 1/4/18

A surprising joint announcement today at the Museum Center at Five Points will have a great impact on the future political environment in the city of Cleveland.Cleveland's Tom Rowland, the longest …

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'The time has come for a new person'


A surprising joint announcement today at the Museum Center at Five Points will have a great impact on the future political environment in the city of Cleveland.

Cleveland's Tom Rowland, the longest continually serving mayor in Tennessee, announced that he will not be seeking re-election in the coming year, pledging his support to friend, political colleague and State Rep. Kevin Brooks.

Brooks, in turn, announced he will be giving up his District 24 Tennessee House of Representatives' seat to campaign for the post of mayor of Cleveland. He is currently the Tennessee assistant majority leader in the House, and has served on numerous state committees and received many, many recognitions and awards.

The possibility Rowland might step down had been mentioned recently, since he resigned from a long period of service with the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, and his decision to relinquish his responsibilities with the community's Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations.

Rowland touched on his longevity in public office Thursday, and the many accomplishments he and the city have made. 

"I feel the time has come for a new person to continue our progress and growth. I will not be seeking re-election this August," Rowland declared,

"The decision was not made hastily," he continued. "It was made with much prayer and the fact that someone has stepped forward who is uniquely qualified to continue the city's progress."

"I am excited that our State Rep. Kevin Brooks, a friend who shares our values, is stepping forward to make a total commitment to being mayor of 'The City with Spirit,'" Rowland added.

"I have watched this young man through the years in various capacities in this community. His work on the state and national level, has been valuable to our progress here, and across the state. I could not think of a more qualified person to take the job and go forward with the progress of this great community," Rowland said in praise of the mayoral contender.

"Without any hesitation, Sandra and I endorse Kevin and I ask my supporters and friends to support him as well," Rowland said. "We will be the first to sign his petition tomorrow morning in the election commission office."

Rowland continued, "I will always be eternally grateful to all of you who gave me this opportunity of a lifetime. For me it has been a labor of love and it has been an honor to serve this great city."

The outgoing mayor had a message for Kim Brooks (Kevin's wife). "This is a seven-day-a-week job and I know you will be by Mayor Brooks’ side as Sandra has been with me. Without my wife, I would have never succeeded."

 Rowland said he will not go quietly into the night. "With nine months left on my term, I will not let up, because I am confident there is time for more good things for Cleveland."

 "God has blessed Cleveland, and it is my prayer that with Kevin Brooks' leadership, energy and commitment as the next mayor, this will continue," Rowland said.

He then went back to 1991, and retraced his 27 years in the mayor's office ... as he approaches retirement.

" In March 1991, I was honored to be appointed Cleveland's Commissioner of Fire, Parks and Recreation to fill the six-month unexpired term of the late Kenneth Tinsley," said the mayor. "I thought that six months would be all of my political career. I was wrong."

"When the late Mayor Bill Schultz told me he was not seeking re-election, and asked me to run, it was sudden with only a few days to prepare and qualify with the Election Commission," Rowland continued. "After much family prayer, Sandra and I decided to go for it."

During his time in office, Cleveland has grown from about 28,000 to today's 45,000, and the municipality expects to reach 50,000 by the 2020 census. Commercial and industrial growth has been phenomenal. 

"When I became mayor, I set several goals. They included a first class museum, a greenway for health and quality of life, becoming a Governor's Three Star Community status, Tree City USA, Public Transportation System, much needed general aviation airport, downtown revitalization,  refurbishing the old railroad depot , a veterans park, an emergency services memorial and passenger rail service," emphasized the mayor.

Although the rail service has not happened, Rowland did serve as vice chairman of the Virginia-Tennessee Amtrak Initiative. 

"Over the years, I have developed relationships with state and national leaders that have contributed to Cleveland receiving many things we otherwise would not have," Rowland said. "Networking with our federal and state partners is a key component to the success of this job."

He said he has been honored to serve two full terms as president of the Tennessee Municipal League, Vice Chairman of The Tennessee Advisory Commission, the only Tennessee Mayor serving on the Homeland Security Council, Vice Chairman of the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund Board, was a member of the Tennessee Risk Management Pool board and many other local boards.  "You can learn a great deal networking with fellow mayors and officials from across the state in these valuable organizations," Rowland pointed out.

Showing some humility, Rowland said, "I was proud to have the Mayor Tom Rowland Interchange named in my honor, and the surprise of my life on our 175th city birthday celebration was to see that beautiful Quint 6 Fire Truck with my name on it. Being named the Honorary Alumnus of Lee University touched my heart like nothing else.


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