It took eight rounds and seven deadlocked votes, but Tullahoma has a new alderman.

The Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 5-1 to appoint Sernobia McGee to the vacant seat left when Mayor Ray Knowis was elected.

McGee will serve out the rest of Knowis' aldermanic term, which will expire in 2021.

McGee, a Tullahoma native, is currently on the board of directors for Tullahoma Day Care Center. She was the first African-American chaplain to serve under the ordinance of the Tullahoma Police Department in 2012 and currently works at Tennova Healthcare - Harton as the director of admissions.

Eight rounds of votes

The process to get to McGee's appointment took several hours and a brief recess, with board members split on four and then three different nominees.

Five people threw their hat in the ring to be the appointed alderman, including McGee. The other aldermanic hopefuls were Bob Bates, Jackie Duncan, Jamie Moorehead and Greg Sandlin.

All but Bates were nominated for the seat.

At first, the board was split 2-2-1-1 for Moorehead, Duncan, Sandlin and McGee. Mayor Knowis and Mayor Pro-Tem Jimmy Blanks voted for Duncan; Aldermen Robin Dunn and Rupa Blackwell voted for Moorehead; Alderman Amacher voted for Sandlin; and Alderman Berry voted for McGee.

After four rounds of deadlock, Sandlin removed his name from consideration, citing his lack of a second vote. He encouraged the board to vote for someone who would fully support the city's law enforcement and emergency response agencies

Once Sandlin bowed out, the board's votes were split 2-2-2 for Moorehead, McGee and Duncan. Knowis and Blanks voted for Duncan; Dunn and Blackwell for Moorehead; and Berry and Amacher for McGee. This deadlock continued for another round, prompting the board to recess the vote until after its other regular agenda items.

After the rest of the regular agenda items and the beer board item were concluded, the board once again returned to the aldermanic vote.

On the seventh round of voting, all votes remained the same, save for Blanks, who switched his vote to McGee, giving the deadlock a 3-2-1 split for McGee, Moorehead and Duncan.

Finally, on the eighth round of voting, both Dunn and Knowis switched their votes for McGee, concluding the process with a final 5-1 vote.

McGee thanked the board for its consideration and their votes, saying she was hoping her late parents were looking down on her and were proud of her.

"Thank you for this opportunity," she said. "I will not let you down; I will not let the city of Tullahoma down."

After the meeting, McGee told The News she was "at a loss for words" at the result and wanted to "make the city proud."

McGee said she wanted "to do what I can to help those who don't have a voice and to be that bridge between the communities who don't feel comfortable coming up here to the city meetings, letting them know that they do have a voice; that what they say ... does matter."

"The issues they have, they make up our city, so I want to be that person to bridge that gap," she said.

McGee said she was ready to make herself more available to the community and be a part of the process.

"I'm just so proud to be here in Tullahoma," she said. "I used to say everything happens for a reason, but everything happens for a purpose. My purpose is to be here to help the city of Tullahoma be the best that it can be."

McGee will be sworn in prior to the next regular meeting of the city board, which will take place Sept. 28 at city hall.

Staff Writer

Erin McCullough has won awards for her news reporting, community lifestyles and education reporting in the three years she's been a journalist. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and currently lives in Tullahoma with her cat, Luna.

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