Longtime Cleveland Mayor Announces Retirement, Endorses State Representative Kevin Brooks as His Replacement

State Representative Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) announced in a tweet Thursday morning that he would not be seeking re-election to a 6th term in at Legislative Plaza, but instead, he will run for Mayor of Cleveland, Tennessee, the Bradley County city with a population of more than 40,000.

In a joint press conference with Brooks, sitting Mayor Tom Rowland, who was first elected in 1991 and is now retiring, endorsed Brooks as his replacement.

The announcement was broadcast on Facebook Live:

JC Bowman, executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, is one person who will definitely not be running for the seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives Brooks will be leaving.

“I have been contacted by several people in my hometown who have inquired if I would have any interest,” Bowman said in a statement released on Thursday.

“However, I enjoy my current job at Professional Educators of Tennessee much better than I would enjoy being an elected official at this point in my life. I like working with legislators, stakeholders, and other policymakers to shape education policy in our state,” he added.

“Kevin Brooks leaves large shoes to fill, I am confident that the citizens of Cleveland and Bradley County will elect someone who will represent constituents with honesty and integrity to carry on his legacy,” Bowman concluded.

You can read the transcript of the Rowland-Brooks press conference here, via The Chattanoogan:


“In March 1991, I was honored to be appointed Cleveland’s Commissioner of Fire, Parks and Recreation to fill the six months unexpired term of the late Kenneth Tinsley. 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. After much family prayer, Sandra and I decided to go for it. I knew a little about the job because as a broadcast journalist, for many years, I had attended more city government meetings than any of those elected officials, so I felt prepared.

“I campaigned using the slogan ‘In Touch’. I was blessed to win that election and took office on Sept. 9, 1991, and was re-elected multiple times during the past 27 years.

“During that time Cleveland grew from about 28,000 to now 45,000 and we expect to reach 50,000 by the 2020 census. Our commercial and industrial growth has been phenomenal.  This is not due to one person, but many partners working for the common good of the community. An outstanding team of city employees and department heads are at the top of the list. And I cannot say enough about the leadership of our Chamber of Commerce.

“When I became mayor, I set several goals. They included a first class museum, a greenway for health and quality of life, becoming a Governors 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. While the rail service has not happened, I did serve as vice chairman of the Virginia – Tennessee Amtrak Initiative. We worked hard and did reach a status to verify that a route through Cleveland and East Tennessee is possible in years ahead as the next feasible passenger route.

“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. Networking with our federal and state partners is a key component to the success of this job.

“I have been honored to serve two full terms as president of the Tennessee Municipal League, vice chairman of The Tennessee Advisory Commission, only Tennessee mayor serving on the Homeland Security Council, vice chairman of the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund Board, member the Tennessee Risk Management Pool board and many other local boards, I continue to serve.  You can learn a great deal networking with fellow mayors and officials from across the state in these valuable organizations.

“I was proud to have the Mayor Tom Rowland Interchange completed 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.

“The list could go on and on with the local, state and regional groups I continue to work alongside.
But I feel the time has come for a new a new person to continue our progress and growth. I will not be seeking reelection this August.

“That decision was not made hastily. It was made with much prayer and the fact that someone has stepped forward I feel can continue our 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.

“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 of Tennessee. I could not think of a more qualified person to take the reins and go forward with the progress of this great community.

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

“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.

“I say to Kim Brooks, this is a seven day a week job and I know you will by Mayor Brooks’ side as Sandra has been with me. Without my wife, I would have never succeeded.

“With nine months left on my term, I will not let up , but I am confident there is time for more good things for Cleveland.

“I would be remiss Kevin if I didn’t again say a big ‘thank you’ and give credit to our department heads and the tremendous employees who work every day to make Cleveland a great place to live, work, invest and enjoy a tremendous quality of life.

“God has blessed Cleveland and it is my prayer that with Kevin Brooks’ leadership, energy and commitment as the next mayor, this will continue even more.”


“As we stand here today in our historic downtown, at the end of the 175th Anniversary of Cleveland, Tennessee and at the beginning of the 100th Anniversary of Lee University, we are surrounded by history. And in this setting, I proudly announce my candidacy for the Office of the Mayor of the great city of Cleveland, Tn.; the ‘City with Spirit.’ My spirit has never been more lifted, more encouraged, more enthusiastic for the future of this great city than today. To quote the famous song, The Best is Yet to Come.

“Our announcement today would not be possible without the full support and endorsement of our great mayor, The Honorable Tom Rowland. Mayor Rowland is not only the longest serving mayor in the history of Cleveland, Tn.; he is also the longest sitting mayor in the history of the State of Tennessee. Mayor Rowland’s legacy and leadership have brought Cleveland to the great success it is today. Just this week, Cleveland, Tn. was named the Best City in Tennessee for Success in 2018 in an online MSN.com poll.

“My goal is to continue the great success of the past – and to take Cleveland, Tn. to even greater heights, with the relationships and friendships I have been fortunate to build over many years of service. Serving Cleveland, Tn. as your state representative in Nashville has been the greatest honor of my life. My family and I thank you for entrusting us with this great calling and we thank you for allowing us to serve. But 12 years is a long time to be away from family and friends, and we believe it is time to return home, to serve the community that we love so much, Cleveland, Tennessee. We love our hometown and we seek to serve and give back to our local community – that has given so much to us.

“As a teenager and history major at Lee College, I was honored to give the Downtown Historic Walking Tours for my professor, Dr. Bill Snell – who literally wrote the book, ‘Cleveland, The Beautiful.’ Falling in love with this historic city, I knew even then, that I was called to serve my hometown and neighbors in some way. I am thankful for the incredible service experiences afforded to me along the way, including the Main State Board of Directors, Rotary of Cleveland and its Board of Directors, United Way, City Planning Commission, Blue Ribbon Committee on Cleveland City Schools, Tennessee Civil Air Patrol, The Sons of the American Revolution and today on the ATS – The Bridge serving to save the next generation.

“This is a historic momentous occasion. Written by President Abraham Lincoln and given to me at my first election by friend and mentor, Don Lorton, Lincoln wrote, ‘I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.’ Just as written, I could not be more proud of Cleveland, Tn. I could not be more proud of our hometown and the place it has become — and in the potential it has yet to be. I hope to live and serve so that this place will be proud of me.

“The Brooks family asks for your prayers. We thank you for your support. And I ask for your vote to become the next mayor of Cleveland, Tn. Thank you and God Bless you, and may God continue to bless our city, The City with Spirit.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve the greatest city in Tennessee and the TN House of Representatives.  After much prayer, I will not seek reelection to the House, but offer myself as a candidate for mayor of Cleveland, Tn. We ask for you prayers, your support, and your vote.”



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