By Kristin Fox
In just one round of voting, the Sylva Board of Commissioners selected Brad Waldrop as its newest member to the board at their final February meeting. He will fill the seat made vacant after the resignation of Mayor Lynda Sossamon in January.
After Sossamon resigned as mayor due to health reasons, the town voted to appoint David Nestler to fill her seat and then selected Commissioner Mary Gelbaugh as mayor pro tem, the seat Nestler had previously occupied. This shuffling of board members created one vacant seat for which the board decided to accept applications. The seat is an interim position and will be up for election in November 2023.
Waldrop received the majority of vote from the field of three candidates. In addition to Waldrop, the board received applications Sylva residents Guy Phillips and Destri Leger.
Using a ballot voting system, Waldrop won the vote with Commissioners Ben Guiney, Greg McPherson and Natalie Newman voting for him. Commissioner Gelbaugh voted to select Guy Phillips.
Waldrop was born and raised in Sylva, graduating from Smoky Mountain High in 1994. In 1998, he graduated from Western Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in marketing. After graduating from WCU, he moved to Atlanta eventually moving back to Sylva in 2014.
“I was born and raised in Sylva; technically Webster, but I’ve always called Sylva my home town,” said Waldrop in his application for the position. “The growth and change happening in Sylva are very exciting. I am fortunate to have friends and connections all over the United States, and it’s nothing short of amazing to me, as someone who grew up here, how many of them know something about Sylva. That’s because it is a very special town.”
Waldrop is the co-owner and general manager of Ward Plumbing, Heating & Air. He has been a member of the Sylva Rotary Club for over two years and has served on the Jackson County Planning Board for one year. In addition, he has served on various industry boards.
“I’ve managed financials, budgeting and strategic planning for a few businesses, including the business for which I currently serve as General Manager of over 40 employees,” said Waldrop. “I’ve trained in business and group leadership for over two decades. I believe that experience will help me do similar things for the Town of Sylva.”
Waldrop stated in his application, he would like to see the town board work to establish maintenance and upkeep requirements for downtown buildings related to awnings, lighting, windows, etc. He thinks Sylva trails neighboring towns in this effort. Waldrop said he would like to see the town enhance its focus on public art as well as make deliberate efforts to promote a walk/bike culture.
“Sylva must continue to embrace the growth of our town and surrounding area with regards to changing needs,” said Waldrop. “I intend to work with my fellow board members, town employees, and most of all, the community to help make everyone’s experience as pleasant, safe and rewarding as possible.”
“Sylva has changed a lot in my lifetime,” he added. “It’s a growing and increasingly diverse town, which provides resources for residents of not only the town, but surrounding areas and visitors. I hope to play a part in helping provide better resources and support for those people, as well as local businesses.
“I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to serve my hometown,” said Waldrop. “It would be my humble honor to play a small, responsible part in helping the town become an even more amazing town for residents and visitors.”
Waldrop will be sworn in at the next regular meeting of the town board and will serve until the November elections at which time the seat will be up for election.