BLUFF CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Bluff City native Jeff Broyles is the town’s new mayor following Mayor Richard Bowling’s resignation for health reasons.
Broyles, who was elected to Bluff City’s board of mayor and alderman in 2019, will be the town’s fourth mayor in the past eight months. Longtime mayor Irene Wells died in December, then-vice mayor Ray Harrington was moving away from the town limits just as he came into the seat, and Bowling has now stepped down after just over half a year.
Broyles said he’s wanted to be a public servant in his hometown since he was a little kid. He served 30 years in the Army before retiring in 2016 and returning to the area.
“My top priorities are to continue the forward momentum and also to reestablish the business here in town seamlessly,” Broyles said.
Bluff City’s mayoral post comes with more responsibility than most in the area, as the mayor also serves as the town’s paid manager. Even though Broyles also has a full-time job currently, he said the town is running smoothly with three very experienced department heads — police chief Greg Depew, town recorder and chief financial officer Sharon Green and public works director Allen Moultrie.
“They’re pretty low maintenance,” Broyles said.
Even with another full-time job, Broyles said he’s ready to take on both tasks for the time being.
“My family has lived here for 150 years,” Broyles said. Even during 30 years in the Army, including 12 combat deployments, “all I ever wanted to do from the time I was six years old, I saw the city hall and I told my mother ‘I want to be the mayor.'”
Broyles acknowledged the town has challenges, including well-publicized issues with its sewer system that have resulted in wastewater flows into Boone Lake as well as a lost source of revenue when the town’s traffic cameras came down in 2020.
“We’ve made great strides since then,” Broyles said in reference to issues with the town’s Igloo Pump Station that made headlines in 2020. While COVID caused some delays, Broyles said a personnel changeover with the town’s engineering contractor led to some forward movement.
“We just completed installing a new manhole and cover and all the accessories on Bluff City Highway where we had the majority of the overflow problems,” Broyles said.
Overflows from that manhole, which sits in one resident’s back yard and has sent overflowing wastewater through another yard and into Boone Lake numerous times in the past.
Broyles said he wants to face those kinds of challenges head-on and transparently.
“I want this government to be absolutely transparent and citizen servant based,” Broyles said. “I want to have a wonderful relationship, and I’m speaking for the entire board and staff, with every citizen that we serve.”
He said that includes water customers who live outside Bluff City’s corporate limits.
“Bluff City has made some big strides in the last year moving forward as becoming a very able and recognized partner with the NETWORKS (economic development) organization, First Tennessee Development District and the law enforcement community.”
That includes sending funding one of its police officers to serve the Second Judicial District Drug Task Force for the first time in the town’s history, Broyles said. “Our reputation grows and we’re proud to do that, and we’re ready to back up that check we wrote,” he added.
Broyles said in a statement that Bowling “has served his fellow citizens with distinction” as an alderman and mayor, and that he “deserves great praise for his untiring efforts to make Bluff City the best possible place to live and work.”