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Erwin mayor tells board she will not seek re-election

Sue Guinn Legg • Jun 30, 2020 at 8:55 PM

ERWIN — Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley will not seek reelection in the town’s Nov. 3 election, ending her 46-year career and going out on top as the Tennessee Municipal League’s Mayor of the Year.

Hensley revealed her decision to fellow members of the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen during a budget workshop meeting on Tuesday.

After the meeting, Hensley told the Johnson City Press, “After 46 years, I’m tired.

“I’m leaving it in good hands. I fought for that. I wouldn’t leave it otherwise,” she said.

And in a reference to her June 2019 TML recognition, she said, “I thought this would be a good time to out, as Mayor of Year.”

In addition to her two terms as mayor, Hensley retired from the town after 30 years of service, including 19 years as the town’s administrative assistant and 11 years as town recorder.

The TML award credited Hensley, the town board and the RISE Erwin group for bringing “new vibrancy” to Erwin’s downtown after one of the biggest economic challenges in the town’s history, the 2015 closing of the CSX rail hub.

Hensley, in turn, credited the board, the Unicoi County Joint Economic Development Board, Erwin Utilities, RISE Erwin and grant-funding partners, including the Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s office of Rural Development for working together to move the town forward following the loss of the railroad that had been the backbone of the town’s economy for nearly a century.

The qualifying deadline for Erwin’s mayoral election is Aug. 29. As of Tuesday, only one potential candidate, Alderman Michael Baker, had picked up qualifying papers to run for the office.

Baker, who is also running for one of two open seats on the Unicoi County Board of Education in the Aug. 6 general election, said election officials have confirmed his eligibility to simultaneously serve in the town and county offices.

Two Erwin aldermen seats are also up for election on Nov. 3 — the seat currently held by Alderman Rachelle Shurtz and the seat left vacant by the resignation of longtime alderman and former Vice Mayor Gary Edwards who stepped down from the officer earlier this year citing health reasons.

As of Tuesday, Shurtz was the only potential candidate to have picked up qualifying papers for the aldermen races.

Editors Note: This story has been revised to state longtime Erwin alderman and former vice-mayor Gary Edwards stepped down from Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier this year citing health reasons. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Edwards died.