The work goes on, the workers just change

Posted 9/6/18

Wow! I cannot believe this 27-year journey is coming to an end as mayor of the city of Cleveland. For me, it has truly been a labor of love working on behalf of our city and the almost 50,000 people …

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The work goes on, the workers just change


Wow! I cannot believe this 27-year journey is coming to an end as mayor of the city of Cleveland. For me, it has truly been a labor of love working on behalf of our city and the almost 50,000 people who live here.

The last wish I have as I prepare for my retirement on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, is to hope I've made a difference in someone's life. I have enjoyed representing our great city in Nashville, Washington and other locations where duty may have called. I tried my best to show dignity and professionalism as I represented you, the citizens of Cleveland.

A mayor could never have asked for better city council members, department heads and most of all great employees who have worked as a team to provide the services needed to effectively operate a municipal government. No one person could do it alone. It has been an honor to be just a small part of this city's team of dedicated employees. 

I have also been blessed with a good relationship with our county government, especially Mayor D. Gary Davis, along with our state and federal partners in government. No doubt I have made many longtime friends and many memories which I will always cherish.

There are so many other entities that work hand in hand with city, county, state and federal agencies to make growth and progress happen. One of those is our Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, which I have  often labeled as the "thread that weaves us all together." Their vision, their passion, their drive is what helps keep Cleveland and Bradley County "front and center" in recruiting new business and  industries, while at the same supporting our existing industries as they expand, add more employees and new products. 

One of the true joys of the Office of Mayor is "bragging rights" for what this area has to offer. I was always amazed as I would share a list of "things made in Cleveland, Tennessee," and watch the expressions on the faces of my audiences. 

The local, state and national publications that have spotlighted this great community in years past are varied and many. They have lauded our tourism, our scenery, our work ethic, our products and our history. It is wonderful to read and hear how others around the world recognize the valuable role this area plays in the global economy. 

Another highlight is to have watched what has evolved in our downtown in the past 27 years, the revitalization and the investments to keep our historic downtown vibrant and preserve our history. The Museum Center at Five Points is but one example.

I could also spotlight our new Cleveland Regional Jetport which is a longtime dream that will impact our economy for years to come. The list could go on, but it is clear our city and our citizens have accomplished a lot of things that make us a city envied across the state. 

It seems like only yesterday that I was appointed commissioner of Fire, Parks & Recreation, to serve the six months of the unexpired term of my dear friend, the late Kenneth Tinsley. It was a surprise when the late Mayor Bill Schultz asked me to consider the run to be his successor as mayor, and he wholeheartedly endorsed me. It was an offer I couldn't refuse, but I'll admit it was not one that I thought would run 27 years. 

Now as my final term as Cleveland mayor comes to an end, I remind those continuing the journey to never lose your focus on education,  the real infrastructure for Cleveland's future. I will always treasure those opportunities I have been given to read to students. Their bright faces and inquiring minds always remind me that our future will one day be in their hands. Those future leaders are depending on us to provide them with the educational tools they need to succeed in life. And there's no doubt that right here in Cleveland, Tennessee, we have the finest educational system and leaders anywhere. 

Cleveland citizens, you are in good hands with your new Mayor Kevin Brooks. I respect Kevin and love him unconditionally. He  has demonstrated to me through the past decade that he has the spirit needed to continue making Cleveland a great place to live, work, worship and raise a family. Kevin will be a great mayor carrying on the theme of "The City With Spirit." My commitment to him and to Cleveland is to be ready at any time to "give back" to a city that has meant so much to me for more than 50 years. 

One commitment as I retire will be that I will "give back" by promising to pray for Mayor Brooks, his family, the Cleveland City Council, city department heads and employees as they continue the work of shaping our city for an even greater future. I know firsthand what it means for someone to say to me, "I am praying for you." It carried me through many years of decision-making and representing the people of this city.

Today, I find comfort in knowing that the work of this great city continues. The workers just change. 

Thank you Cleveland, and may God bless each of you.

As Bob Hope would say, "thanks for the memories" you have given both me and my First Lady Sandra.

I could never thank my wife enough for our 50-year marriage and her willingness over half those years to be by my side as we represented Cleveland in the Office of Mayor.  We have been blessed by this journey, and now we are  excited about the new chapter in our lives and to see what God has in store.  We cling to Jeremiah 29:11 as we move forward. 

It has been overwhelming to us to see the show of love and support in these final days in office. If we have not said "thank you" in a note or call, please accept this as our sincere "thanks" for all the kindnesses shown to us. We feel blessed for all the cards, calls, visits, comments and especially the prayers.

And to you Mayor Kevin Brooks, I left the office light on for you.


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