Macon County Clerk of Court Vic Perry travelled to Highlands last week to officially swear in Highlands' new leadership. In addition to a new mayor, Perry swore in new town board member Donnie Calloway as well as Amy Patterson, who was able to retain her seat on the board.
Taylor replaces Mayor David Wilkes, who decided not to seek re-election and secured the position as mayor with 260 votes to Brain Stiehler's 174.
"My initial reaction to being elected mayor was that I was honored that the people of Highlands would entrust me with the responsibility of serving as mayor," said Taylor. "I view the position from the perspective of service, trust and devoting a lot of hard work for the benefit of the community."
Taylor has been working dilligently since election results rolled in to learn as much as he can about the town of Highlands and how it operates. "The outgoing mayor, David Wilkes, and the town manager Bob Frye have been very helpful in the transition of my assuming office," said Taylor. "I have met with many of the town's department heads and have visited town facilities, such as the water plant, to learn what is involved in delivering town services to our residents."
A 14-year resident of Highlands, Taylor and his wife, Sallie, have been married for 33 years. The couple have two grown children, James Taylor and Rebecca Owens. "Sallie and I have two small grandchildren, Eliza who is 18 months old and Henry who is two months old."
Taylor served as a university teacher and administrator for 25 years. He taught in the public school system for six years and served in the United States Army for three years. "I was a Macon County magistrate assigned to the Highlands area for 10 years before being elected mayor," said Taylor.
Taylor currently operates a small studio business in Highlands, where he makes functional stoneware pottery.
Eager to get started, Taylor views his greatest challenge as mayor as being the task of encouraging affective communication. "My greatest challenge as mayor is to promote communication and build consensus between various community stakeholders, all of whom want the best for the town and community," said Taylor. "My job begins by working effectively with our elected representatives, the town board, in making, at times, some difficult decisions about what is best for all concerned. Second, as mayor I want to ensure citizens have a voice and are heard in the process making and implementing policy. Third, I want to work with the town employees in delivering the best possible services, yet stay within the bounds of fiscal responsibility. Finally, I want to be an advocate for Highlands and for its economic and cultural development."
While Taylor understands the importance of building an economically viable community, he views it as his responsibility to make sure the natural beauty of Highlands doesn't get lost in the process. "The town needs to be a good steward of our natural environment," said Taylor. "An issue that relates to this stewardship deals with preserving our watershed. For years we have had a major problem with storm water run off and sedimentation of our lakes and streams. These natural resources are a part of a network that ultimately provides the water supply for the town. In the coming years, the town will have to implement a plan to improve the system. The problem is, what should be done and how do we fund the initiative. The town needs to be proactive in addressing this issue. Too often governemnt tends to ignore longterm problems and 'kick the can down the road,' until there is a major crisis. As mayor, I want to address securing and preserving a good water system for years to come."
Above all else, Taylor wants to take the opportunity as mayor to be a public servant of his community. "I have had a sense of public service in all of my professional endeavors," said Taylor of his reason for running for office. "I wanted to continue my commitment of being a public servant by running for mayor of Highlands. I am grateful to the former mayors of Highlands who have also had this commitment of serving the public.”