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Brownsville Elects First African-American Mayor

By Erica Williams
By ewilliams@wbbjtv.com

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn -- Bill Rawls will soon be Brownsville's first African-American Mayor, beating out incumbent Jo Matherne in Tuesday's election.

He said while it's an honor, his focus is much bigger.

"Everything I do is for the bettering of Brownsville, not because I'm black, but because I'm the new Mayor," Rawls said.

Rawls added one of the first things on his agenda is bringing in more jobs to the city in an attempt to combat a high unemployment rate.

"I'm very concerned about the unemployment and poverty here," Rawls said.

Brownsville unemployment rate is 11.2 percent, almost five percent more than the US average and one of the highest in West Tennessee.

87-year-old Earl Stanley is a Brownsville business owner who said the high unemployment rate is affecting his business. He said he's ready for a change.

"I don't care if he's black or white or Mexican if he can do the job," Stanley said.

Rawls won the election by more than 64 percent and he said early voting played a major role.

According to the Haywood County Election Commission, 66 percent of voters cast early ballots, making it the biggest early voting election in the city's history.

Winning in a landslide victory as the first African-American City Mayor, Rawls said he knows there is much to do, but he's up for the challenge.