New Mount Carmel city manager takes over Nov. 13

Jeff Bobo • Nov 1, 2017 at 7:06 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — Retiring City Manager Gary Lawson said Mount Carmel had two pretty good candidates for his replacement, but he believes the Board of Mayor and Aldermen made the best choice in Church Hill native Mike Housewright.

Housewright, who is the current Unicoi city recorder, will start work as Mount Carmel’s city manager on Nov. 13 and eventually assume the duties of city recorder as well. 

A longtime former mayor and alderman, Lawson has served as part-time city manager for the past two years. But he has been wanting to retire — again.

Lawson said he will stay on for about a month to help familiarize Housewright with the city’s operations.

City Recorder Marian Sandidge is expecting to retire at the end of next year, at which time Housewright will take over her duties. It was the BMA’s intent to merge those two positions to save money.

Lawson told the Times-News Wednesday that Housewright and another candidate who was interviewed by the BMA last month have similar education backgrounds and both seemed to have the right demeanor for the job.

What put Housewright over the top was his experience, Lawson said.

Housewright lived in Church Hill and attended Hawkins County schools before moving to Kingsport with his father at the age of 16.

After graduating from Dobyns-Bennett, he attended East Tennessee State University, where he earned a B.A. in political science in 2010 and a master’s degree in public administration in 2014.

He was an intern at M-TAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service) under municipal management consultant Pat Hardy.

Housewright served as Unicoi’s city recorder beginning in April of 2016.

Prior to that, he was assistant director of AccelNow under former Johnson City and Kingsport city manager John Campbell.

In September, Housewright became an M-TAS certified municipal finance officer.

Housewright said taking the job in Mount Carmel is a bit of a homecoming.

“You can’t really grow up in Church Hill and not think about Mount Carmel as your hometown, he said. “I grew up in Church Hill, my grandparents lived in Mount Carmel, and I spent Friday nights with my mamaw and papaw. My papaw would drive me to the Tiny Giant and buy me all the candy that my parents had the good sense not to buy.”

Housewright added, “I’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill with Marian retiring. That being said, I’ve got Gary there for the next couple of months, and then Marian for about a year after that. Honestly, with Gary’s experience as mayor, and now city manager, and Marian as city recorder, I couldn’t imagine two better people to help me navigate Mount Carmel and learn the lay of the land.”

His salary was set at $50,000 until he takes over as city manager, at which time it increases to $54,000.                            

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