Templeton appointed deputy ag commish
By Jeff Whitten
County Mayor Jai Templeton was appointed Deputy Commissioner for the Tennessee Agriculture Department last Wednesday, according to a press release from the department.
“Jai is a proven leader who has extensive experience in government and firsthand knowledge of agriculture and rural issues both as a farmer and as mayor of a rural county,” said Commissioner Julius Johnson while announcing the appointment.
In the press release, Templeton said, “I am grateful for the confidence that Commissioner Johnson has shown in appointing me to this position. I look forward to working with him and the department to grow Tennessee’s agricultural economy. It will be a privilege to serve in Gov. Haslam’s administration.”
Templeton will begin his new job on June 1. He said he will be resigning as County Mayor prior to that time.
Chair Pro Tem Wilburn Ashe will be available to serve as mayor until the commission can select a new mayor, possibly at the next scheduled county commission meeting on June 27.
Whoever is selected will serve until August 2012, when there will be an election for the office. There will be another election for a full four-year term in August 2014.
When asked if he will miss McNairy County in a later interview, he said, “Absolutely but I’m not moving. I’ll continue to live here and farm here. I’ll be around.”
When asked what accomplishment during his time in office he was most proud of, he said it was his relationships with other county officials and the county commission.
He said other accomplishments such as an increasing fund balance, decreasing debt and increasing credit rating flow from these cooperative relationship.
“You don’t do these things by yourself,” he said.
Templeton said he was “proud of the financial stewardship of the County Commission.”
This enabled the county to pay for such improvements as additions to the University of Tennessee Martin Selmer Center and additions to the County Health Department.
He also cited the upgrade of the county highway department equipment with low cost debt.
Templeton also said he was proud of the efforts for economic development, especially the McNairy Regional Alliance.
All these things happened “during a difficult economic time,” he said.
Templeton also said that over the past month or two, “We have been employing more people.”
The Mayor noted, that this county posted 6 percent population growth during last year’s census.
Looking to the future, Templeton said he was optimistic about the future of the county, due to its location and leadership.
“People come to the area because they believe the quality of life is good,” he said.
He complimented the county commission as “being agreeable to disagreeing and never playing partisan politics. There is no room for that.”
He succeeds retiring Deputy Commissioner Terry Oliver.
Templeton has served as mayor since 2006. He is a former County Commissioner and president of the McNairy County Chamber of Commerce. He helped form the McNairy Regional Alliance, which is a combination of the Economic Development Commission and the chamber.
He was a field representative for U.S. Representative Ed Bryant and served as a delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Templeton is a sixth generation farmer. He and his wife, Allison, and their children, Mycaela, Canon and Eliza Smith live on their family farm in Stantonville. He attends the First Baptist Church of Adamsville.
The reaction from his colleagues was happiness for him but sadness to see him go.
County Commissioner Wilburn G. Ashe said he was “very pleased for Jai, saddened for the county. Jai has done a great job.
Ashe is Mayor Pro Tem and would serve as Mayor from the time Templeton resigns until the county commission selects a new Mayor.
Commissioner David McCullar said, “It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s done a good job for the county. I think he’ll do a good job.”
His colleague Jim Rickman said, “We’re proud that they thought enough of Jai to select him for this position. We feel honored to have him in Nashville on our behalf. I’m sure Jai will do just as good a job as Deputy Commissioner for Agriculture as Mayor of McNairy County.”
Stan Wheeler, who is also a County Commissioner said, “I am very saddened that he is leaving as County Mayor. He has worked well with the County Commission. I am also very proud that he has been asked to serve” as Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture.
Former County Commissioner O. H. Freeland, said “I am for that 110 percent.”
These sentiments were shared not only by county commissioners, but also by other county elected officials.
Register of Deeds Brian Dickey said, “I think he’ll do a good job. He worked well with county officials and he will work well with the officials in Nashville.”
Assessor of Property Betty Ashe said, “He has been a wonderful Mayor. I’ve enjoyed working with him. I’m happy for him if this is what he wants to do.”
Circuit/General Sessions/Juvenile Courts Clerk Ronnie Brooks said, “I am really proud of Jai. He has been an excellent Mayor. He has handled the County’s affairs in a very responsible manner. He will do an excellent job. They couldn’t have picked a better guy.”
“I am proud for him and proud for our county,” said Sheriff Guy Buck.
Road Superintendent Harvey Smith said, “He has done a good job here in the county, I hate to see him leave. We’re gonna miss him. It’s been a pleasure working for him.”
Trustee Stanley Mitchell said, “I’m proud for him. I hate that we’re losing him, he’s been a good county mayor.”
County Clerk Ronnie Price said, “He’s done a good job here. He’ll do a good job there. It will be good for him and good for the County.”