Community Council Candidates: Who they are and why they want to serve

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

On Nov. 8, Sewanee residents will elect 12 members to the Sewanee Community Council, two members in each of the four districts and four at-large members. All council seats are open for election. The candidate receiving the most votes in each district will serve a four-year term, with the runner-up serving a two-year term. The same rule applies to at-large seats, with the two candidates receiving the most votes serving four-year terms and the runners-up serving two-year terms.

The candidates were asked to address the following questions: how long have you lived in Sewanee?; what are your qualifications?; and why do you want to serve on the council? Here are their replies.

David Coe, Candidate for District One: I am running for reelection to my seat in District One. I have lived in Sewanee for 24 years. I’ve built a house here, raised children here, done countless book signings at the University Bookstore. I’ve been Treasurer of Sewanee Youth Soccer, Coordinator of the Sewanee Food Buying Club, President of the St. Andrew’s-Sewanee Parents’ Council, and, since 2008, a member of the Community Council. I am connected to the University by marriage—my wife, Nancy Berner, is Vice President for Planning and Administration. But in my years on the Council I have been an independent, at times outspoken voice, supporting University initiatives when I believe they serve the interests of the community, and opposing them whenever I feel they don’t. I will continue to speak my mind for as long as the people of District One trust me to be their representative.

Flournoy Rogers, candidate for District One: Since moving from Memphis to District One in Sewanee in 2005, I have been impressed with the willingness of its citizens to address community concerns. Working with groups and serving on boards since grade school, I know the importance of active community participation. The Sewanee Woman’s Club and the Fourth of July Committee introduced me to many aspects of life here. The Sewanee Community Council will be an opportunity to expand by hearing District One concerns, passing them to a larger forum, adding a touch of urban perspective, and sharing in enhancing all the possibilities of this singular place. I look forward to phone calls, emails and being button-holed on the streets.

Louise Irwin, candidate for District Two: I was born, raised and educated in Sewanee, and following business school I moved to Illinois. After 17 years I returned to Sewanee with three children and my husband who had multiple sclerosis. Dick died in 1974. I got involved with the “going ons” in Sewanee because I must keep busy. I’m currently serving on the Community Council and seeking re-election. I am a member of Folks-at-Home, the American Legion Auxiliary, Sewanee Senior Citizens, Franklin County Resource Development Association, Franklin County Sheriff’s Civil Service Board, and several more committees. I am also a member of Otey Memorial Parish Church. I’m a people person. I’m civic minded and do love my hometown of Sewanee. I help people in any way I can. I care what happens to our community.

Pamela C. Byerly, candidate for District Two: In November of 1998 I moved to Sewanee and went to work in the Office of Marketing and Communications. I am happily still there. After I was here a couple of years, I moved to Willie Six Road in District Two and decide to try out for the Community Council. I have been on the council ever since. On the council I served as secretary for several years. I am currently the liaison to the Leasehold Committee and also a liaison to the Trustees Community Committee, which meets twice a year. I enjoy being involved in the community. I am also a member of the University Employee Advisory Committee, and at Otey Parish I am in my second year on the vestry.

Pixie Dozier, candidate for District Three: I am currently a council member and agreed to be on the ballot because I am interested in the relationship between town and gown. The Community Council membership now reflects a good cross section of members from the community and the University. I served for two years on the council’s Community Funding Project, which supports initiatives to improve the quality of life for Sewanee citizens. A short list of my work in the community includes service to the hospital, several churches, Senior Citizens, CAC, the public school and the Children’s Center. I have served on many boards, both appointed and elected. I have had the opportunity to be involved with the citizens in Sewanee in many capacities. I can relate to their wants and needs. I am interested in making our community safe, improving the quality of life and seeing Sewanee get better and better.

Charles Whitmer, candidate for District Three: Charles Whitmer came to Sewanee in 2010 with his wife Kelly who is a professor of history at the University. Since arriving in Sewanee he has undertaken graduate coursework in Conflict Management at Lipscomb University focusing on mediation and conflict resolution and currently works for a local nonprofit organization and as a mediator in the local courts. As a council member he would focus on advocating for more transparent policies in regard to the University’s relationship with the broader Sewanee community and addressing the unintentional adverse consequences of those policies.

Richard Barrali, candidate for District Four : I’ve resided in Sewanee for almost three years, but my Sewanee connection dates from August 1977 when my car broke down in front of Ed Carlos’s house on Tennessee Ave. After that auspicious beginning, I visited Ed and Sewanee many times while living on Signal Mountain before moving here permanently in the Spring of 2014. I graduated from Memphis State University and recently became a substitute teacher at SES. I am also trained to teach Mindful Self Compassion and plan to offer classes with my co-teacher, Maryellen McCone. I currently teach yoga at the Sewanee Community Center. I served on many committees in the Chattanooga area. I have a vested interest in seeing the Sewanee community flourish and thrive. As a council member, I’ll work towards encouraging a healthy collaboration between the University and other Sewanee residents. I’m also committed to making Sewanee as ecologically efficient and green as possible.

Phil White, candidate for District Four: I came here as a student in 1959 and never left, except for completing a Master’s of English degree and other studies during vacations. I retired in 2004 after 41 years of teaching English, first at the Sewanee Military Academy, followed by the Sewanee Academy, and most recently St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School. My teaching years included serving as activities director, literary magazine sponsor, soccer coach and golf coach. Since retiring, I served on the Otey vestry and Community Council. I wish to continue to promote policies and programs that bring the University and the Mountain community closer together. While on the council, I co-authored a request for a lowering of the University transfer fee, which was subsequently reduced from 6 to 4 percent. I also received approval from the Council for a dog park, and with the help of the University, dedicated citizens, and generous donors, the dog park was completed.

Annie Armour, At-large candidate: Annie Armour is a 1977 graduate of the University and a 36-year resident of Sewanee. Janet, Sarah and Meg are her grown daughters and she has two grandsons. She has served on the Community Council for 14 years. She has also held other leadership positions in the Sewanee and St. Andrew’s communities. Annie was the University Archivist for 28 years. She has published many articles and two books about the history of Sewanee. She brings a historical perspective and an openness to change to the Council. She would like to play an active role in resolving the issues that arise affecting our community.

Cindy Potter, At-large candidate: Sewanee has been my family’s home since 1980 when my husband, Bran, joined the University’s faculty. Much of my life here has focused on serving area children. I taught at Sewanee Children’s Center and was the PTO sponsored librarian at S.E.S. before spending 25 years teaching in the Franklin County Schools (two years in Sherwood and Oak Grove and 23 at Sewanee Elementary). When sixth grade moved to Jackson Jr. High, I joined the St. Andrew’s-Sewanee school community and helped begin the sixth grade program there. I also created a summer enrichment program for area children. Teaching has always been my deepest passion and enriched my life beyond measure, but I have been active in other areas of our community. I recently joined the CAC Board and in the past served on the Community Council and Duck River Board. I look forward to serving in new ways.

Kate Reed, At-large candidate: I have been on the council since late March as a representative to District One completing an unexpired term. I’m seeking election to an at-large seat. I’ve resided in Sewanee since August 2013 and just bought my first house in the downtown village district this spring. I am grateful for the home I have found in Sewanee and seek to serve the community in this period of thoughtful planning for our future. I look forward to a lifetime in Sewanee, and I hope through the Community Council to strengthen the relationships that make this town so special.

Theresa Shackelford, At-large candidate: Sewanee has been the adopted hometown of Theresa Shackelford for more than 30 years. She has been a full time resident of Sewanee since 2007. Theresa has been actively involved in the community as a member of the boards of the SES PTO, Sewanee Civic Association, Sewanee Woman’s Club, Thurmond Library and the Community Chest. She has served two terms on the Community Council as a representative of District Two. During that time, she has served on the constitutional revision committee, the committee to appropriate community funds and as the 2015 election officer. Theresa has one child, William Gilchrist, who is a sophomore at High Point University in High Point, NC.

Early voting for Community Council continues through Nov. 7 at the Lease Office.

Special thanks to Tabatha Whitsett in the Provost’s Office for her help in gathering photos and information from the candidates.