Mayor Rusty Barnett: Carter County Commissioners pay tribute

Published 5:33 pm Friday, September 25, 2020

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Mayor Rusty Barnett tragically passed away on Monday, Sept. 21. 
The late mayor’s passing has left the community heartbroken. Among those are commissioners of Carter County. 
Listed below are the words of commissioners in tribute to the late Mayor Barnett. 
Patty Woodby, Carter County Interim Mayor
Our county has suffered a great loss. 
Mayor Barnett had a servant’s heart. From coaching different sports teams, serving on the school board, working with the city fire department, and sheriff’s department. He even took the time to drive to Murfreesboro to support local kids playing in the state tournament. He was always sacrificing and serving our community.
To the Barnett family, I am not just speaking for myself, but for every commissioner and member of our county. We are deeply sorry, and you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Mayor Barnett leaves a great legacy behind that should empower each of us to serve others. I consider it a great honor that I was blessed to work with him in his capacity as our mayor but especially an honor to be able to call him my friend.
Travis Hill, Vice-Chair
I have known Rusty my whole life.
I worked with Rusty at the Elizabethton Fire Dept for 12 years before I changed careers. We always kept in touch and he’d always have a smile on his face and say, “hey buddy” anytime he saw me. We always enjoyed talking about football. 
Once we both were elected to office, we were always there to help each other out when needed. 
I know Rusty loved Carter County and all of the citizens. He truly had a special calling when it came to kids. From coaching sports, to teaching kids about fire safety he cared about those kids. When he was on the school board, to becoming mayor, he always focused on what was best for the kids of Carter County.
Rusty worked to bridge the divide between the city and county governments to create a better working relationship to benefit our citizens.
Rusty was a devoted family man and will truly be missed by many. We had a long friendship and for that I am thankful!
Austin Jaynes, 4th District
He was a great person and worked hard to better his community in every aspect. He will be greatly missed by myself and the commission. 
We are truly sorry for the loss to his family and our prayers will be with them in this trying time.
Ray Lyons, 7th District (retired)
I had the distinct pleasure of working with Mayor Rusty Barnett for two years as Chairman of the Carter County Commission. Mayor Barnett and I had an excellent working relationship. 
I was very saddened to get the news of his passing. I pray that God will bless his family during this very difficult time. 
I will always remember Mayor Barnett and the commission during the time I worked with them.
Isaiah Grindstaff, 4th District 
It has been a privilege and an honor getting to work with Mayor Barnett. 
He has always been a dedicated member of our community as a firefighter, court bailiff, and so much more. 
We will miss him as our mayor and community leader, but even more as our Friend.
Ross Garland, 5th District 
Mayor Barnett was always a pleasure to work with. Easy to get along with and respected by his peers. He served Carter County well during his time as mayor and his tenure on the school board. He was a servant to the people and his legacy will live on through the many lives he touched.
Robin McKamey, 8th District 
Mayor Barnett was a kind humble man that treated everyone with kindness and respect. 
He had a heart of gold, always thinking about the needs of others. Mayor Barnett always gave his all to this county going above and beyond the expectations of his position.
He will truly be missed by this commission and I pray for peace for his loving family.
Mike Hill, 2nd District 
Mayor Barnett had a real heart for service. He lived the American dream growing up in rural Carter County and ascending to our highest elected office. 
During his short time in the big seat, he made more progress in the restoration of languishing city/county relations than anyone I can think of.
Layla Ward, 5th District 
First, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Mayor Barnett’s family. 
It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to have been blessed with the opportunity to serve alongside a mayor who possessed such a great passion for his community.  
He will truly be missed by all.
Randall Jenkins, 6th District 
Mayor Barnett was always positive when it came to county business. He never was a glass half empty person, always having a solution.  
From the time I met him in elementary as Rusty the fireman to now as mayor it’s been a pleasure.
Ginger Holdren, 5th District 
Rarely does a governmental leader come along with the enthusiasm that Mayor Barnett displayed.
He treated all of us the same without regard for the past. He had a strong desire to get along with everyone and please the citizens of Carter County. He referred to his non-politicized ideas as “thinking outside the box.” 
It was refreshing to serve with someone so humble, eager, and caring.
Robert Acuff, 1st District 
From a commissioner’s standpoint working with Mayor Barnett, I feel blessed to have known him and had the privilege to work with him. His always open door, his deep concern for our citizens and his kind ways will be deeply missed.  
Rusty had a servant’s heart. He cared deeply for Carter Countians, and was constantly looking for ways and resources to move the county forward. Many times he would call to just talk and share a story over which we would have a good laugh. Often he would reach out to ask my opinion on an issue as he took his position as mayor seriously. 
My heart goes out to his wife Kim and his family. I ask Carter Countians to keep them in prayer as these next weeks and months will be difficult. 
Sonja Culler, 7th District 
Mayor Barnett was a kind, happy and helpful person. He was always there to work with us, reaching out to help in any way possible.
His office was always open to us, really to discuss items and help resolve any issues.
He would use any of his resources to help accomplish things and would call on us to do the same. 
I always felt very welcome to sit down and talk to Rusty. He was always making contacts to help Carter County, trying to bring in companies and jobs.
He loved Carter County and he was proud to be our mayor. I will miss working with him.
Kelly Collins, 8th District 
I knew Rusty for many years and he was one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever known. When he became the mayor he made it clear that his door was always open if I ever needed help or wanted to talk. And I did stop by several times. We had some great talks. 
I think that it is important to know that his humble, gentle personality helped pave the way for the city and county government to start working together. He understood that we should and could all work together to make Carter County a better place to live.
He will be greatly missed. 
Nancy J. Brown, 2nd District 
He was well respected and I thought he did an amazing job. He tried his hardest and I feel for his family, because I know he loved his family. 
I hate it. He will be missed a lot. 
Bradley Johnson, 3rd District 
I grew up with him and went to school with him. He was a close friend. 
I honor him because he stepped up to the plate for the county office to offer his knowledge, service and duty.
He did a splendid job. 
He was just a true friend. Just a jovial and happy person and always wonderful to be around. 
He really took his job seriously and put a lot of extra time in. He had a lot on his plate. 
He was just a great man, a good public servant. 
Mark Blevins, 1st District
I think he was a good mayor. 
I think he served that position well. He had the residents of Carter County at heart and was concerned. 
I knew Rusty for many years. We became elected officials of Carter County at the same time. He was just a good man all out. 
He did a tremendous job as mayor. I believe that with my whole heart. 
He will definitely be missed. 
Charles Von Cannon, 3rd District 
For two years I have served with Mayor Barnett on the Board of Directors of Kingsport Based Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency. During this time, I have seen him grow in participation in the interests of Carter County. 
Mark Tester, 3rd District 
During my time as a commissioner, I found Rusty to be kind, respectful and a good public servant in Carter County. 
He will be missed greatly. 

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