Housewright confirmed Monday he has accepted a city manager position in Mount Carmel, next door to his hometown of Church Hill.
He is scheduled to put in his last day in the top administrative office in Unicoi on Nov. 8 and will go to work in Mount Carmel on Nov. 13.
Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch has already begun the preliminary groundwork for finding a replacement for Housewright, and will meet today with Pat Hardy of the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service for assistance with the state’s assignment of a temporary town recorder for Unicoi.
Hardy will also assist the town with the statutory procedures for a job search to be conducted for Housewright’s replacement, which Lynch hopes can be completed by the end of the year.
“I would like for us to advertise and begin interviewing in three or four weeks and hopefully have someone in place by about Christmas,” Lynch said.
Ask if the rough-and-tumble political climate in Unicoi during his year-and-a-half at town hall had influenced his decision to accept the job in Mount Carmel, Housewright said, “Not at all.”
“In the career I have chosen, politics is just a part of it. And If I can’t handle politics, I’ve chosen the wrong career,” he said.
And having grown up in neighboring Church Hill and gone through school with people in Mount Carmel, Housewright said he could not help but think of Mount Carmel as home.
“I’m excited to be going home to serve there,” he said.
As for Unicoi, Housewright said he felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of the town’s “ambitious strategic plan” and the projects that have come to fruition during his tenure, and had also become very fond of the staff, elected officials and Unicoi as a whole.
“The kitchen project pulled me to Unicoi and I am proud to have been a part of it,” he said. “There’s a lot going on with the town that I’d like to see unfold, and I will be keeping an eye on.
“I don’t think anyone can spend time with the people and the town of Unicoi and not come to care a great deal for them.
“I am happy to be going home to serve Mount Carmel, but there are certainly things I am going to miss here,” he said.
Housewright went to work in Unicoi in April 2016 as assistant to former Town Recorder Larry Rea, and took over the recorder’s position after Rea’s retirement later that year.
Lynch said Housewright’s background in public administration and city management and experience and training as a municipal clerk caused him to rise to a top of a field of about a dozen candidates who applied for the Unicoi recorder position in 2015.
Lynch said Housewright’s experience with the AccelNow small business training corporation in Kingsport had also benefited Unicoi.
“Mike has done a good job. And I fully understand (his leaving), especially going to his hometown,” Lynch said. “He’s excited. It’s a better job. It’s his hometown, or next door to his hometown.
“We are saddened to see him leaving and at the same time we wish him well. And we feel confident we should have a smooth transition to another city recorder.”
Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.