New Rocky Top Mayor Kerry Templin and the two new city council members who were elected in the Nov. 8 general election took their seats for the first time during the council’s December meeting last Thursday.
And in their first official action, they showed their influence over the Rocky Top governmental body by choosing one of their own, Mack Bunch, as vice mayor.
Templin, Bunch and Jeff Gilliam ran as a united “ticket” to unseat longtime Mayor Tim Sharp, two-term Councilwoman Denise Casteel, and Councilman Tony Devaney, who was appointed to the council three years ago and was seeking his first elected term.
A third new councilman, Richard Dawson, who was appointed in November by Sharp as one of his last actions as outgoing mayor, was not present for what would have been his first council meeting since joining the four-member council. Dawson, who works for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, was unable to attend because of a previously scheduled training session at work, City Manager Michael Foster said.
Dawson came in fourth in the balloting for the two open council seats in the November election.
During the November council meeting, Sharp appointed Dawson to fill the remaining two years of the four-year term of Councilman Justin Job, who resigned from the council after the October meeting. Job has also been vice mayor.
Last Thursday night, Templin made the motion to appoint Bunch as vice mayor, and Gilliam seconded the motion. The vote was 4-0 to approve the motion, with carry-over Councilman Zack Green voting with the majority.
In Rocky Top, the mayor technically serves as a member of the council, even though the mayor’s position is separate on the ballot from the other four council positions. Mayor and all council members serve four-year staggered terms, with two of the council spots up for election every two years. Templin easily defeated Sharp on Nov. 8, taking 82 percent of the vote – 265-57.
Out of the five people running for the two council seats, the two candidates aligned with Templin – Gilliam, with 227 votes, and Bunch, with 210 votes – outpolled the two incumbents, Casteel and Tony Devaney, and Dawson. Casteel came in third, with 76 votes, while Dawson was fourth with 45. Devaney polled fifth, with 39 votes.
Job, who still had two years left on his term, told The Courier News that he resigned because he and his family are on the verge of moving out of Rocky Top.
Sharp was seeking his fourth term as mayor. Casteel was seeking her second term on the council, while Devaney was seeking his first full term after being appointed by the council in October 2019 to serve the unexpired term of Brian Brown, who resigned for health reasons.
Templin is a lifelong resident of the area. His father served as mayor and city councilman in the 1980s, and ran Cooper Supply Company.