By Kristin Fox
Long-time Sylva Mayor Lynda Sossamon presented her letter of resignation to the Town of Sylva Board of Commissioners at this week’s regular meeting. Sossamon has dedicated 16 years of service to the town, 9 years as commissioner and 7 years as mayor.
“It is with great regret and sadness that I must tender my resignation as Mayor of the Town of Sylva, effective January 26,” Sossamon said in a letter to citizens, commissioners and staff. Town Manager Paige Dowling presented Sossamon’s letter to the board.
On November 14, Sossamon underwent planned heart surgery and while the procedure went well, serious complications arose.
“I am making good progress but must devote my full efforts into recovering my health,” said Sossamon. “The Town of Sylva deserves the full attention of its mayor and currently, I am unable to see to town matters with the detail needed.”
“During my 9 years as commissioner and 7 years as mayor, I have loved serving the citizens of Sylva,” she added. “I am passionate about this town, its residents, and businesses and have enjoyed working with the wonderful employees of the town.”
“As a Sylva business owner for over 33 years. I know that citizens, businesses, and civic groups are what keeps a community vision moving forward,” said Sossamon. “The town employees and commissioners are imperative to implementing that vision. I leave Sylva in good and capable hands.”
In the letter, Sossamon stated she was grateful for the many accomplishments made during her 16 years of service.
During her tenure, Sossamon helped Sylva establish the Downtown Streetscape Revitalization, become part of the NC Main Street Program, get added to the National Register of Historic Places, preserve a portion of the Plott Balsams with Pinnacle Park and the Blackrock Creek Conservation Easement and secure funding for the Allen Street slope repair and Bryson Park repair and upgrade.
Sossamon worked with surrounding municipalities, Jackson County and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians representing the town while serving on both the North Carolina League of Municipalities and the North Carolina Mayors Association.
“I love Sylva and so proud of what Sylva has accomplished,” said Sossaman. “As we move forward and continue to grow I hope the residents of Sylva and Jackson County continue to support local businesses, town government and its employees and each other. Together, we continue to make Sylva the best it can be.”
“Serving you as an elected official for 16 years has been a joy,” she added. “I am proud of Sylva and what we have accomplished, and I look forward to what the future holds for our wonderful town.”
Commissioners voted unanimously to elect Commissioner David Nestler to serve as the next mayor of Sylva. He will be sworn in at the next meeting of the board. He will serve as the mayor for a one-year term and then will be on the ballot for a two-year term. After that election, the position of mayor will be back on its regular four-year election cycle.
Nestler is in his second term as a commissioner for Sylva. He was first elected commissioner in 2015 and was re-elected commissioner in 2019.
The board went on to nominate Commissioner Mary Gelbaugh Mayor Pro Tem; the board will officially vote on her assignment following the swearing-in of Nestler at the next board meeting. Gelbaugh is serving her third term as commissioner, serving from 2013 to 2017 and 2017-2021. She was re-elected commissioner in 2021.
To fill the vacant seat on the board, the town will advertise for the position and accept applications. If anyone is interested in applying to fill the commissioner’s seat, they need to contact Amanda Murajda, Sylva Town Clerk, or go by the Sylva Town Hall for an application. Interested individuals are also encouraged to attend upcoming board meetings.
Commissioners hold regular board meetings on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at the Sylva Town Hall. This first meeting is at 5:30 p.m. and the second meeting is held at 9:00 a.m.
The board will vote on March 9th for the commissioner seat vacancy. This seat will be up for re-election in November 2023.