ROGERSVILLE — If Rogersville Mayor Jim Sells is elected again on June 1 he will be en route to completing four decades in that office, but Sells is being challenged by a local woman who is no stranger to local politics herself.
Carolynn Elder is a former director of the Rogersville Heritage Association who now covers local issues including the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen for the weekly Hawkins Today newspaper.
Elder said she is seeking election as mayor because she feels some issues important to her aren’t being addressed year after year.
“Rogersville must choose contemporary methods for economic development in order to achieve sustainability,” Elder said. “Quality of life issues such as maintaining and upgrading the park must be seen to. The city charter needs reviewing and updating, and the people need more say-so in their city government.”
Elder said her lack of political experience is an asset to the community. She owes no political allegiances or political favors, and she is not part of the “good ol’ boy” political system.
She said her plan is to serve the residents of Rogersville the way she would want to be served by an elected mayor.
“My style of leadership is known as ‘servant leader,’” Elder said.
“There is nothing I ask others to do that I do not do myself. Because of this trait, finding others to work alongside me to achieve a common goal is not a problem,” she said.
Elder added, “I have served on many local, state and regional boards which has been invaluable in learning to work with a group. I have a specific plan of work and will bring energy and enthusiasm to our rather lethargic BMA meetings.”
At the end of her four-year term, her goal is to leave office with a feeling of accomplishment if the BMA has agreed on and is working toward a successful economic development plan.
She said she will have achieved her goals if she established the committees and boards necessary to carry out and maintain that plan, and if she has brought back a sense of community pride to Rogersville.
Sells said his decision to seek re-election to this office was both a personal decision and one encouraged by others.
“My sole goal has and always will be the continued improvement of the town of Rogersville, the services offered to its citizens and the quality of life available to its citizens,” Sells said.
“I am the best candidate for this office because of my experience, my honesty, my ability to work with the departments and organizations, and my love for the town of Rogersville,” he said.
Sells began his political career as an alderman in 1971, and after six years in that position he was elected mayor in 1977.
Since then he has held numerous positions with the Upper East Tennessee Development Agencies.
He attended ETSU and served 33.5 years with BellSouth. He has spent the last 12 years working as a part-time funeral assistant at Christian-Sells Funeral Home.
He is a member of First Baptist Church in Rogersville. He and his wife, Margaret Price Sells, have two children, Leigh McNeil and James P. Sells, and he is the “proud grandfather of four grandchildren and one great-grandson.”
“In the next four years I would like the BMA to continue and complete its already started projects, look for new industry, and continue the preservation of our heritage,” Sells said. “I’m easily accessible and have always strived to be available to the citizens. I thank the citizens of Rogersville for my past years as mayor and hope to continue this journey for four more years.”