Governor-elect Bill Haslam’s right-hand man will be Blount County’s own Mark Cate.
The governor-elect’s transition team announced Saturday, Dec. 4, that Cate will be named special assistant to the governor, and he will aid Haslam in special projects, advising and management. Cate served as Haslam’s state-wide campaign manager during his run for office.
Haslam, who is in his second term as Knoxville mayor, will resign that position on Jan. 10 and be sworn in as governor on Jan. 15.
“My belief in Bill Haslam’s vision of job creation, education and budget management was what inspired me to work with his campaign, and that’s exactly what has me excited for this new opportunity,” Cate said. “I am honored to be a part of this administration, and I look forward to helping the Governor-elect carry out his vision.”
Cate, 45, said the opportunities in Tennessee far outweigh the challenges. “Great things are happening and to be a part of that and have a role in that and to work with Bill is an incredible opportunity,” he said on Saturday.
Going to Nashville means leaving friends and family in Maryville, and Cate said that’s not easy for him or his family. “It is bittersweet. Cathy and the girls and I obviously love Maryville and Blount County and this community. We’ve all grown up here, and this is home to us,” he said.
Cate said he and Cathy have been blessed by so many different people in the community who have helped them grow in their careers. Cathy Cate is the former executive director of Leadership Blount. Prior to joining Haslam’s gubernatorial campaign, Mark Cate worked for Knoxville real estate development firm Lawler-Wood as a vice president and previously served for 16 years in executive management for Maryville College.
“I had great mentors at Maryville College and at Lawler-Wood, as did Cathy at Leadership Blount,” he said. “We are so mindful that the opportunities given to us right now make a difference only because of all the things given to us in Maryville and Blount County. This will always be home, and we’ll come back often because we have family and friends here, but we are extremely excited as a family to serve Bill and our state this way.”
Cathy Cate praised Haslam. “Bill is going to be a great governor. We’ve gotten to know him over the last 18 months. He’s going to do great things for the State of Tennessee, and we’re excited to be a part of that,” she said.
Mark and Cathy Cate have two daughters, Bailey and Abby.
Cathy Cate said she, Mark and their daughters are thrilled about the new job and the new opportunities ahead of them. “We are making the move to Nashville pretty soon, and that is anxiety-filled, but at the same time we know there will be opportunities for the girls, and we know we are on the road to great things, so we’re excited,” she said.
Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor recalled how Cate served on the Maryville City School Board when Taylor was vice mayor on the Maryville City Council. “Mark is very aggressive and very bright and has lots of ideas, and he’s not afraid of hard work. He really gets in there and addresses problems right away,” Taylor said. “This sounds like the perfect position for Mark in the new governor’s administration.”
Andy White, vice-mayor of the City of Maryville, said Cate will serve the state very well. “Mark has demonstrated locally with Maryville College and with Lawler-Wood his leadership abilities, and I think he will carry that ability on to the state,” he said. “We’ve got lots of challenges for the state, and Mark is the right person for that position.”
White said Mark and Cathy Cate each has been a tremendous asset to the community. “What Maryville and Blount County are losing, the state is gaining,” he said.
Bryan Daniels, interim president and CEO of the Blount Chamber Partnership, said Cate’s leadership qualities have set him up for this new endeavor. “His appointment will be beneficial to our community,” Daniels said.
Kevin Painter co-founder of LeConte Wealth Management said Mark Cate has been an incredible leader in the community. “I’m so pleased he’s going to have the opportunity to serve our state in Nashville,” he said.
Joy Bishop, community volunteer, said the governor-elect picked the right person for the job. “There’s not a person in Tennessee that can do a better job than Mark,” she said. “I know all of us in Blount County are so proud of Mark.”
Cate currently is aiding Haslam in his transition to governor. As special assistant to the governor, he will have several duties under his purview.
Cate will be a political adviser, handle special projects for Haslam and assist Deputy to the Governor Claude Ramsey with management. He also will be responsible for actively identifying and recruiting rising leaders to state government.
“As Crissy and I traveled across the state during the campaign, I heard time and time again how professional our campaign staff was, and that was because of Mark,” Haslam said. “As the campaign manager, Mark made the trains run on time, and his contribution to the campaign cannot be overestimated.
“His management skills and eye for professionalism will be a tremendous asset to our team as we prepare to tackle tough challenges and take advantage of unique opportunities at the state level,” Haslam said.
Cate received his B.S. from Carson-Newman College and his M.S. from the University of Tennessee. He also attended Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management.
He is an active community member and previously served as vice chairman of the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Blount Education Initiative, and a member of a number of boards including: Maryville City Board of Education, New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center, Leadership Knoxville and Innovation Valley, Inc.
For more information, please visit www.billhaslam.org.