In the months prior to that moment, I had been throughout the communities of Oak Grove, Taylor, Michigan Avenue and Tasso asking people for their support and promising them that I would be an elected official who worked for results. Enough of them believed in me and I was given the chance to work for them.
I have never forgotten the hundreds of conversations I had on porches and in driveways. To this day, I smile and wave at people in Walmart that I only know from those moments.
On Monday, Aug. 25, I sat in my Commission seat for my last, bittersweet Commission meeting. I can’t help but reflect on all the things we have faced in these recent years.
We ended the legal battle with the city of Cleveland. We reached a workable plan to reconstruct Lake Forest Middle School. We avoided property tax increases and expanded key public safety services. We continued to help our local industry expand, but most importantly, we became a Commission that was free of personal feuds and vendettas. We all worked together, even when we were disagreeable. We were professionals.
The most notable challenge presented was the tornado outbreak of 2011. We lost lives, lost property and lost time. We discovered how limited and powerless local government can be in a moment like that, but as individuals many of us helped families find a new sense of normal. We are slowly arriving.
Recently, I have come to realize that these past four years haven’t just been about how I have served the community. I can’t help but be grateful for everything that has been done for me. The past four years have molded me. I wasn’t the typical profile of someone elected to office. I didn’t have the typical pedigree of someone who becomes vice chairman of the Bradley County Commission.
But those truths never stood in my way, because they have been overshadowed by the confidence many of you had in me. I am grateful for the opportunity the voters gave me. It gave me the chance to be more than another statistic for my generation. It allowed me the chance to work on some great things.
Though storm recovery was painful, it was my privilege to help, hurt and recover with you. I am grateful.
I have seen what good, selfless men and women can do when placed in positions of authority. There are many at work in our community, and I am proud to call them friends. I was honored to stand beside them in our hardest battles. I am grateful.
Most of all, I am grateful for the opportunity to show my children how rewarding serving community can be. My 9-year-old son recently had to do a project in which he picked what he wanted to do some day. Many kids picked the usual things like sky dive and travel the world. He wrote, “I want to be a county commissioner like my dad.” A moment like that is priceless for a father.
More challenges and opportunities await our community in the coming years. My wife and I have already been praying for the next four years. I have offered my help to all of our newly elected officials. I hope you will do the same.
Again, thank you for allowing me to be your commissioner.
From the Lowe family: “We love you, Bradley County!”
(About the writer: J. Adam Lowe is the executive director of the Cleveland State Community College Foundation and an outgoing member of the Bradley County Commission, a governing body on which he served as vice chairman.)