A crowd circulated through the Sharon Lawson Room of the Blount County Public Library on Feb. 18 when supporters of former Maryville Fire Chief Ed Mitchell held a reception to kick off his campaign for the Republican nomination for county mayor.
“I was real happy about the turnout of people who showed,” said Mitchell, estimating that between 200 and 250 folks came by. “I really thought we had a great crowd and a great mix of different people from all over the county. I wanted to give everyone who came through a chance to voice their concerns. One thing I didn’t want to do was rush people through and make them feel that what they had to say wasn’t important.”
Mitchell said folks started arrived for the reception before 5 p.m. and he finished up around 7:30 p.m.
“There was a lot of people who helped me out on this. First of all I want to thank my wife and family. They worked hard to help me do this,” he said.
The chief also thanked Jeff and Susan Headrick, Deedee McGhee, Paul and Anita Bales, Steve Millsaps, Robin Flanigan, among others. “There were a lot of people who really jumped in and helped out. I had never done anything like this. I have attended them, but I was never involved in putting one together,” he said.
A number of residents shared their thoughts and memories of Mitchell as he chatted with those entering the reception.
Kelly and Charlie Sterling of Maryville said Mitchell would make a good mayor. “I think he would care about what people think and their concerns,” he said.
Charlie Sterling said Mitchell would be honest and direct. “He’ll listen and do the best he can to serve the common people,” he said.
The chief’s wife, Kim Mitchell, said she was very proud of her husband. “He’s one of those people who goes after what he believes in. He just felt like he wanted to do something for the community,” she said. “He’s having so much fun, because he enjoys meeting people.”
David Staley said he worked at the City of Alcoa Fire Department as long as Mitchell was at the Maryville Fire Department. “I think he could do great. Most of the guys who worked for him never bad-mouthed him,” Staley said.
Jim Scully said Mitchell is honest. “He’ll tell you straight-forward, and I think he’ll work with the people,” he said
Tim Shields of Maryville praised Mitchell. “He’s just a great guy, and I can’t think of a better man to be our next mayor,” he said.
JoAnn Shields said Mitchell was the best option. “I think if we don’t get him, we’re out of luck. He’s the right man,” she said.
Joe Gallagher of Louisville, the Democratic nominee in the county mayoral election in 2006, said Mitchell is a good man. “I’m encouraging other Democrats to vote for him in the Republican Primary,” he said.
Joe and Linda King of Blount County, frequent critics of incumbent Mayor Jerry Cunningham, praised the former fire chief. “I think he’s a good man, and I think he’ll win,” Joe King said of Mitchell.
“It’s about time we had someone of integrity who will stand up for the taxpayers of Blount County,” Linda King said.
Jeff Headrick of Maryville said he and the former chief have been friends for 22 years. “Ed is down-to-earth, no nonsense, what-you-see is what-you-get type of guy. It’s about what’s right with him,” Headrick said. “I’ve never seen him play favorites.”
Darrell Tipton of Maryville said Ed has the heart of a public servant. “He’s always put the concerns of citizens above his own, therefore I think he’s running for the right reasons,” Tipton said.
Also at the reception were Mitchell’s sons Josh and Jordan; jhis wife, Kim; and Josh’s wife and 18-month-old son, Tracy and Mason. “He’s very passionate about serving the community,” Josh Mitchell said of his dad. “I believe in his ability to impact the community a positive way.”
Geneva Harrison worked as Mitchell’s executive assistant during his time as chief, and she said she believed he could do the job of county mayor. “He has the personality and the knowledge. I hope people support him,” Harrison said. “He will have an open door policy. I worked for him for 25 years; I ought to know.”