Rowland and Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis began the hour of accolades and presentations by declaring Wednesday “Sen. Dewayne Bunch Day” for his public service that began in 1998 in the House of Representatives. He moved to the State Senate in 2006.
Bunch is known for telling people the title of “senator” and one dollar is enough to buy a cup of coffee.
“I’ve enclosed a dollar with this proclamation so you can buy a cup of coffee,” Rowland said.
Sen.-elect Mike Bell, who was elected to the 9th Senatorial District, said in a phone call from Washington, D.C., that he would try to follow Bunch’s example.
When asked if he had a response to Bell’s remarks, Bunch said, “Absolutely. Congratulations.”
Robert Thompson, president of the Bradley County Bar Association, also made a presentation to Bunch.
“Our American system of government is unique because it is based on the application of laws rather than the ever-changing desires of men and women in our society,” Thompson said. “The true genius of our system is we can change the law after reflection and debate. We’ve entrusted that responsibility for many years to Sen. Dewayne Bunch.”
Gary Farlow, president of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, presented a certificate of appreciation for his work in the area of economic development.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett told Bunch the only thing he came to give him were the things he felt in his heart. He described the outgoing senator as a family member.
“My son really thinks Dewayne is his uncle,” Hargett said.
He said Bunch not only talks the talk, but he walks the walk in Nashville.
“He is, for any aspiring public servant, for any aspiring father and husband, he is one of the best people I’ve ever met in my entire life,” the secretary said in a broken voice. “The people of this city and county will miss him and Tennesseans will miss the fact that he is no longer in the State Senate.”
He described his friend as the one person who has stood in the gap for what he knew was right and in the direction the state should be headed when it was not popular.
“We are so blessed he took time from his family and his career to have such an impact and this is the heart of a true public servant,” he said.
Also participating in the program were State Rep. Eric Watson and McMinn County Mayor John Gentry.