Stephanie Lee is the fourth mayor the town of Braxton has had in the last four years since the death of former mayor Mable Everett.
Lee and her husband moved to Braxton from Richland three years ago and have since fallen in love with the little town, she said.
Lee served on the Braxton Board of Aldermen for two months before deciding to run for mayor. She will be finishing Everett’s term, which ends in 2021, at which point all five board members will be up for reelection.
Lee said, “I’m doing this to do the right thing. I’m not in it for notoriety. I’m just trying to keep the town from dwindling to nothing.”
Since taking over the office Lee has made it a point to learn as much as she can. She got a taste of municipal government during her short two months as an alderman, before jumping into the deep end as mayor. During that time she was able to witness the needs of the city. Lee said, “I saw that someone needed to take the reins.”
Her main focus at this time has been on annexation and expansion of Braxton’s borders. The process had begun before she took office and she is looking to pick it up and move it forward. Lee said, “Expansion is crucial for Braxton’s survival. We have to expand our borders.” Lee explained that the expansion is necessary to help the city and neighboring citizens living just outside the city limits.
She said Braxton recently went up on water prices and citizens on Braxton water outside the city limits were dealing with noticeably higher water costs. Once these citizens are included in the city limits they will experience a reduction in those rates.
Lee said the city also has other goals of paving roads and making upgrades to the water department, but annex- ation has taken priority. Lee said, “These are long term goals and we have to start laying the path and it starts with annexation.”
The discussed annexation would expand the city’s borders eastward and north to the county line. Braxton currently has one business supporting their commercial sales tax base, and the proposed annexation would add two additional streams of revenue to increase the town’s resources. Passage of the planned annexation will require a 2/3’s vote of the citizens who would be annexed.
Lee explained that she is looking forward to strengthening the town’s partnership with the Board of Supervisors, particularly Supt. Randy Moore. She also plans to establish a strong working relationship with Sheriff Paul Mullins. She said these partnerships are imperative to moving the city forward. She said, “I see these needs and the only way to fill them is by developing these relationships.”
Lee spoke highly of the staff that handles day to day operations for Braxton. She announced that Pam Coward has returned as city clerk and “is doing a fantastic job.”
Lee was also able to get Butch Tinnon to help with maintenance around the city. Ransom Ford is working as a part time water operator under his father and is one step away from having his license. Ford is expected to take on the role of water operator once he is licensed. Lee believes she has the right staff in place to move the city forward.
Lee said, “I didn’t know Braxton in its heyday, but I see the potential. I see things that will help all of the citizens of Braxton and Simpson County.” Lee said there are also some things that need to be stopped such as speeding through Main Street.
She has set both short and long term goals, and is developing plans to see them accomplished. Lee said, “I am still learning, and I am looking forward to taking any classes that come up, and attending the Mayors Conference, and learning more to help move Braxton along.” Lee has shown an eagerness to learn and has sought out a mentor in the form of Mayor Sally Garland of Crystal Springs.
Lee said citizens can expect a hard working mayor who will work for the benefit of Braxton. She encouraged everyone to participate in the census and register to vote. Lee said, “The census is one of the things I’ve mentioned to people. Getting our people counted and voices heard helps Braxton.”
Lee plans to continue to work with the citizens of Braxton for the benefit of Braxton to move the town forward.