Both city and county offices have seen new faces assume leadership roles during this year's election, and the Southern Standard offered all of the new aldermen and commissioners an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community.
Commissioners Charles Dotson, Cam Montgomery and Scott Kelly declined to participate and Commissioner James Hines didn't respond to messages left by the Southern Standard.
The concept of serving the community is not a new one for newly-elected alderman, Deitra Dunlap.
A Warren County native, Dunlap is married to Joe and has three children: Olivia Gilley (Tyler), Lucas Majors (Virginia) and late son Jackson. Two grandchildren, Georgia and Lenox, are the newest additions to her family.
Outside of family, Dunlap enjoys serving. This call to help the community is compounded by the outpouring of support the family received during Jackson’s battle with leukemia at 14.
“Through Jackson’s sickness, McMinnville was so good to us,” said Dunlap. “I feel pulled to serve so that I can give back even a fraction of the support we received.”
Dunlap worked as a guidance counselor at Boyd School, and often found herself gravitating to the older students. For five years, Dunlap has served as a TN Achieves mentor, which she describes as a challenging but fulfilling experience.
“I am proud of my accomplishments as a counselor,” explained Dunlap. “People need to feel relevant. The easiest way to do that is to be a good listener.”
Dunlap expresses gratitude for the humbling support she received. “I was shocked when the votes kept rolling in,” said Dunlap. “I will not take that trust for granted. I look forward to getting out into the community and finding the best way to serve its needs.”
Keri Curtis Morton
Her lifestyle might be a busy one, but Alderman Keri Curtis Morton is always willing to take time to make her community a better place.
Morton is a successful business owner with her own hair salon, Creative Illusions, which she has owned for 21 years. Along the way, she has mentored many other hairdressers to help them get established and move up in their own career.
“It is my greatest achievement to own my own business, especially for so long,” explained Morton. “My clients are like family to me, and the work is so fulfilling.”
Having grown up in the area, Morton and her family share a strong familial bond. She is married to Bobby of Morton Service Company and the couple have two daughters, Mallory Morton and Chelsea Brumbelow. Morton also has two grandchildren, Ashlyn and Brody.
When not handling commission matters or working at Creative Illusions, Morton finds her time spent working on other ventures in her life including managing Mountaintop Gun Range, spending time with her grandchildren, volunteering with Relay for Life and serving on the board of Harrison Ferry Fire Dept.
“I am a hard worker and I do not give up,” said Morton. “I look forward to getting started with this board. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Chris Rippy is the newly-elected commissioner for District 3, and he sees great potential in what Warren County could be.
Rippy has worked in social work for 20 years, working through WCMS before becoming the care manager of Generations. He continues his education through TSU for social work, and aspires to one day begin working in the therapy field. He volunteers in the Bed Ministry through his church Living Word Fellowship, which has supplied over 90 children with beds across 10 years.
Husband of Warren native Stephanie, Rippy has a huge family from his hometown Portland, but bridges the distance by hosting lunches every other Sunday to stay in touch. The couple have four children: Malachi, Darius, Ariyanna and Jesiah.
Rippy emphasized that his priority is keeping the homegrown, family-oriented qualities of Warren County alive and well for many years to come.
“I have a tendency to feel like I should be able to help everybody, and I will do what I can to help as many people as possible,” said Rippy. “My hope is to focus on this county’s potential and the children. I want this to be a place where our graduates always have educated jobs waiting for them locally. We have a lot of history and heritage here. I want to see that continue.”
Donna Smith, District 6’s newest commissioner, is no stranger to local government.
Smith worked as the election commission director for 42 years before retiring, but still felt a magnetic pull to serve her community.
Warren County is where Smith finds her roots, particularly in the Crisp Springs community. She raised her daughter, Darrah Polk (Craig), there and has a tight-knit connection with her family. Smith places great importance upon spending time with family including grandson Gunnar, but also in her faith in God as a 20-year member of Covenant Fellowship Church.
“I ran for office because I missed public service. I did it for so long, and I found out I didn’t miss the work as much as I missed seeing people and doing what I could to help them over some little bumps,” explained Smith of her drive to return.
“I feel I can bring a little something extra to the commission because, for years, I was responsible for coming up with a budget for the election commission,” explained Smith. “I want to bring in some common sense and my own years of experience to the table to benefit the community.”
While he may not be native to the Warren County area, District 12 commissioner Kenny Moffitt has found much to love about it.
“The people here are wonderful to deal with. The scenery and the mountains are beautiful. There are so many great things to appreciate about our county,” said Moffitt of his motivation to stay here. “I love the small town, homey feel. I enjoy being able to have this small community.”
Originally from Coffee County, Moffitt has worked as a paramedic for over 28 years in surrounding counties as well as Warren. These days, he works full-time as the Assistant Director of EMS Education at Motlow and is captain of North Warren Fire Department.
Moffitt and wife Donna have been married for over 25 years and the couple have two children, Brady (Amber) and Hannah (Noah) in addition to one grandson, Noah. He enjoys spending time with his family whenever he isn’t working, and is an active member of Freedom Life Church.
“I have a passion to serve the community as a whole, and I want to be involved in change,” explained Moffitt of his decision to run for office. “I think we have a great commission right now, and I hope to foster a good working relationship and work as a team.”