By Richard Rourk
Town of Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley recently announced that she will not seek another term.
“It’s been a long time in office, and I’m tired,” Hensley said.
Hensley served as an administrative assistant for the town from August 1974 until June 1993, city recorder from July 1993 until July 2004 and as Town of Erwin mayor since 2012.
During Hensley’s almost 50 years of civic service, she has seen a lot of changes in Unicoi County.
“I have been involved with this region for more than 46 years and have seen many changes over the years,” Hensley said. “I have rushed out the door all those days putting on my makeup and heels to make meetings. I’m looking forward to enjoying a cup of coffee in my pajamas.”
For Hensley, several of those changes came during her time that she served as city recorder and then as mayor.
“I’m very proud of the Linear Trail,” Hensley said. “It took several phases and millions of dollars to complete. That one was really my baby.”
Another crowning jewel for Hensley is the creation of the current city hall in Erwin, but there are others.
“That was constructed while I was serving as city recorder,” Hensley said. “We built the post office and were able to lease it back to the post office for 20 years. We were also able to construct the Veterans’ Park. We started with just an overgrown field out there and we went to the American Legion in Atlanta and asked for the money to build that. Both the Town of Erwin and Town of Unicoi gave $10,000 each and I did not know what to do with that land. (My husband) Bill (Hensley) told me that if ‘I wanted it built, he would build it.’ He was able to get volunteers and materials donated and that is what you see up there now.”
According to Hensley, none of these projects would have been possible without a group effort. “All of these projects came together because of the giving and volunteering spirit of the community,” Hensley said. “Erwin has really flourished in the past six to seven years because the community has really come together. I can’t take the credit for these projects, it has been a community effort and I have had a great board to work with over the years. These projects wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of our town’s employees.”
Hensley was named the 2019 Mayor of the Year by the Tennessee Municipal League at their 80th Annual Conference in Memphis. Each year since 1954, the Tennessee Municipal League has honored a city mayor that typifies the attributes of intelligence, effectiveness, hard work, dedication, and sacrifice.
According to Hensley, the greatest compliment that she has received is that she is fair.
“There was an employee once that said, ‘You may not like her, but she is fair,’ and that is something I have always strived to be,” Hensley said.
Hensley hopes to travel some in the near future. “
We will do some traveling; it’s hard to do with two dogs, but we will make it happen,” Hensley said. “It’s time that Bill and I enjoy our family.”
As for what will happen in the Town of Erwin after her retirement, Hensley has high hopes.
“We have a good path; we are moving forward,” Hensley said. “I’m sure we will have a mayor that will come in and do a phenomenal job. I can see Erwin still progressive and improving. I really hope whoever gets elected will have a passion for the people of Erwin and not for themselves.”
Hensley is not done serving yet and looks forward to helping in any way she can.
“We still have a lot of work to get done before November and I will still be around,” Hensley said.
Those currently seeking to be the next mayor of Erwin during the Nov. 3 election include current Aldermen Michael Baker, as well as Daniel Crouch and Glenn White.
Two aldermen seats on the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen will be up for grabs in November. As of The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue, only current Alderwoman Rachelle Hyder-Shurtz plans to seek election.
Candidates have until Aug. 20 at noon to qualify to be on the Nov. 3 ballot.