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Massengill reflects on tenure as mayor

Many people say when Mayor Bob Massengill leaves office,Brookhaven is watching the retirement of one of the best leadersthe city has ever seen.

“He’s the best mayor we’ve ever had,” said Brookhaven residentShannon Aker. “Not only that, he’s a great Christian man, and henever played politics. If he said it, he did it.”

Massengill denied being the best, but said he just did his bestto serve the people of Brookhaven. He also credited his faith forgetting him through the tough times.

“I hope that folks remember me for being fair and consistent andtrying to please my Lord in what I did,” he said. “If I haven’tpleased Him, I’ve been an unsuccessful mayor. That is the mostimportant thing to me.”

Massengill, who turns the reins over to Mayor-elect LesBumgarner on Tuesday, said he believes the city will continue thepositive momentum it has built up under his administration.

“It’s an interesting thing,” he said. “Les has several yearswith most of the members of the board, and that’s a real asset. Butthe thing to remember is that every board member has an opinion,and every one represents certain people.”

Bumgarner and the other newly elected city officials will besworn in Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. at the Lincoln County/BrookhavenGovernment Complex.

While the city has made many positive changes under Massengill,he said there were still days that the job were definitelytough.

“The hardest part is seeing that politics do enter into somepeople’s decisions,” he said. “I know that’s normal because this isa political arena, but things function so much better if you canreduce or minimize the politics part of it and make decisions basedon what is right – not what is political.”

And it was that deference that made him such a beloved mayor,said friend and community leader Bill Sones.

“He’s such a sound businessman, and he’s well-educated and hasgreat judgment,” he said. “Plus he’s a sound Christian man. I don’tknow what else you need in a good mayor.”

Massengill said he has faith that Bumgarner will be seen as justas positive an influence on the city’s future. He said the key tobeing effective is to be a fair leader.

“One major piece of advice I’ve learned is to try to get bothsides of the situation and weigh all your options before you makedecisions,” Massengill said.

And that goes a long way, he said.

One of the first calls Massengill fielded when he took officewas a dispute between two people over a pickup truck. People seeyou not only as the mayor, but as an ultimate source of power.

“All sorts of people will call,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘I’dlike the city to come get the love bugs out of my yard,’ orsomething. You get all kinds of calls, some that are more of achallenge than others.”

While he won’t be in the office every day, Massengill said thejoy of being able to meet people of all kinds is still going to bea part of his life.

“When you go to Wal-Mart or out around town, some peoplerecognize you. Many don’t, but some do,” he said. “It’s neat thatthey speak to you and you have the opportunity to speak to themtoo. There are so many people I wouldn’t have known otherwise, andthat has been a joy.”