Cleveland, Tennessee—Kevin Brooks, Coordinator of Public Relations and Conference Management at the Church of God International Offices and graduate of Lee University, was sworn in as the new mayor of Cleveland, Tennessee on Monday, September 10.
The ceremony was moved to the local history museum from the City Council chambers to accommodate the standing room only crowd that came to witness the installation of the city’s first new mayor in 27 years. Tom Rowland, a former radio station owner, was first elected in 1991 and left office as the longest-serving mayor in Tennessee history.
Rowland declared his intention to retire from the mayor’s office in a ceremony earlier this year. At the same event, Brooks announced he would resign from his current elected post of state representative for the 24th district of Tennessee to seek the office of mayor. Over the next several months, Brooks and his opponent met in scheduled debates until the voters decided on August 2 Brooks would be the next mayor by a margin of 63% to 36%.
At the ceremony, General Overseer Tim Hill prayed the opening prayer invoking blessings on the city of Cleveland and the incoming mayor. Two other elected Council members were sworn in before the gavel of mayoral authority was officially passed to Brooks. He was joined by his wife of 29 years, Kim, and their two adult children, Zachary, a staff member at Lee University, and Elizabeth, a nurse at Vanderbilt Hospital. Also in attendance were his parents, sister, in-laws and other family members.
Also in attendance was Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn, who in 1990 presented graduating senior Kevin Brooks with a Bible, which Brooks chose to use during the oath of office. In his remarks, Brooks thanked the Lee president, who has served for the last 32 years growing the Church of God institution from just under 1,000 students to over 5,000 today and expanding the campus from 22 to 125 acres. Brooks worked for Conn at Lee University on two separate occasions.
During the event, Rowland stood to inform Brooks that the State of Tennessee had approved renaming Exit 20 off of Interstate 75 in honor of Brooks. As a state representative, Brooks was instrumental in obtaining funding to construct new ramps and a bridge at the exit.
Brooks served in the Tennessee House of Representatives for 12 years. He had previously submitted a letter to the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives stating his resignation would take place the moment he was sworn in as mayor. During his time as a legislator, Brooks won numerous awards including the 2018 Tennessee School Health Coalition Legislator of the Year, 2016 Bradley County GOP Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2016 Legislative Champion Award, the 2014 County Officials Outstanding Legislator of the Year, the 2012 Tennessee Civil Air Patrol Legislative Squadron Leader of the Year, the 2009 Rural Health Association Legislator of the Year. He rose as high as Assistant Majority Leader for the House (2010-2016) and served as vice chair of the House Finance Ways & Means Committee and was a member of the House Insurance and Banking Committee.
He is noted for helping to secure funding for the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home, as well for Cleveland State Community College’s capital funding program. Brooks also sponsored the bill eliminating the Hall Tax, which had levied a tax on interest and dividend income.
“I want to say thank you to my wife and children,” Brooks said. “I also want to thank my parents and Kim’s parents. I would not be here without my family and faith.”