ELIZABETHTON — As a deputy clerk in the Carter County Circuit Court, Patty Woodby was not very well known outside of legal circles until she chose to run for a seat on the Carter County Commission from Roan Mountain.
She is certainly getting much better known, now that she is serving as interim mayor of Carter County upon the death of Mayor Rusty Barnett a week ago.
In her first attempt at politics, Woodby managed to receive more votes than any of the other candidates for the 24 seats on the commission.
At the time, Woodby parlayed the support from her community into an appointment to the commission’s most powerful committee, the Budget Committee. Her rise continued last year, when she was elected by her fellow commissioners to be the commission’s vice chair.
Most of the time, a vice chair has little authority and doesn’t have much to do, but with the commission Chairman Ray Lyons suffering health problems, Woodby began to preside over many of the commission’s meetings. That continued after Lyons was forced by his health problems to resign from the commisison a couple of months ago.
After presiding over many of the meetings over the past year, Woodby was a logical choice to be the commission’s next chair. That decision was made even more critical when Barnett died on the day the commission was set to choose its leadership for the coming year.
Now, the commissioners realized, the position of chair would bring with it the temporary duties of interim mayor until the commission elects an interim mayor to serve for the next two years.
With these factors in play, the commission elected Woodby as chair by a vote of 17-6 last Monday.
One thing that was most notable about last week was how busy the new mayor was. She was not only learning the duties of her new role but also working to keep Circuit Court running smoothly.
As Woodby prepares to serve as mayor for the first time during a commission meeting tonight, the Johnson City Press has asked Woodby five questions. Here are her answers.
Have you been busy, working two jobs since last Monday?
“I have been working both jobs since last Tuesday, helping the Circuit Court clerk, Johnny Blankenship, decide on who will perform my job duties as administrative assistant. We also began training each person on-the-job duty. It was a very busy week for me but we seem to have made it happen. We have a great staff in the Circuit Court clerk’s office who have been very supportive in the transition.”
What short-term goals would you like to accomplish during the time you are serving as interim until the commission elects the full-time interim?
“I would like to keep the basic functions of our county government moving, while getting to know the officeholders and employees that serve our county. I would also like to work on some small projects that Mayor Barnett was passionate about and try to finish those on his behalf.”
What does your family think of your new role? Has your daughter given you any advice?
“My family is excited for my new role. They have been very supportive in this quick transition. My daughter told me ‘mom you give 100% to everything you do so I know you got this.’ Being a mother and role model to my children is my No. 1 job and that is what has made me who I am. There is no job more rewarding than being called mom.”
Are you happy with the accomplishments of the County Commission since you and the other new commissioners took their seats two years ago?
“I am thrilled about the accomplishments of this commission in the two years we have been in office. We are a team working with each other, the officeholders, and the mayor. As interim mayor I hope to continue the great relationship that I have developed with my colleagues on the commission. I am impressed daily by each and every one them and their love for this community. I can tell Carter County that you are being represented by some of the most-talented individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The passion and love for this county is evident in every committee meeting and commission meeting that I attend.”
What are a few of your memories of Mayor Barnett?
“Mayor Barnett had a servant’s heart. I will miss his big smile and he was always willing to call me and ask me his famous question ‘Patty let me run something by you and what do you think.’ I admire him for taking the time to include me on decisions that involved making our county a better place to live. He loved Carter County and we loved him. He will be missed but I plan to make him proud as interim mayor.”