New Female Mayors Following Fathers’ Footsteps

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SYLVANIA and GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Emily Wooten and Leigh Dollar had never heard of one another until Thursday, but they have a lot in common.

Both were born the same year on Sand Mountain, have three children, and still live in the towns where they grew up.

Wooten works for the DeKalb County revenue commissioner, and Dollar is an accountant who assists with the City of Guntersville's finances.

Wooten's father served as mayor of Sylvania and Dollar's father was mayor of Guntersville, and on Tuesday, the two women became the first female mayors of their respective towns.

"I have always wanted to be the first female mayor of Guntersville," Dollar said.

"My dad was mayor when I was born, and I grew up sort of around local politics all my life.  It's just kind of always been part of my life and I always knew that i wanted to be serving in that capacity some day."

George Barnett became mayor in 1972 and served until 1976, when he was defeated by Bob Hembree, Sr.

Leigh Barnett Dollar replaces his son, Bob Hembree, Jr.

"It's a good lineage I guess you could say, good heritage for Guntersville, she said.

"My dad and I wondered if we were the first father-daughter pair of mayors."

They are not the only ones.

Emily Wooten received about 70 percent of the vote Tuesday in a five-person race in Sylvania.

Her father, Claude Callaham, served four terms as mayor from 1984 to 1999.

"He has taught me a lot, I learned a lot through him being mayor of how he handled different situations, the good ones and the bad ones," Wooten said.

"That's equipped me, I believe, to be mayor, by growing up with him as mayor."

Wooten said her main goal is to restore Sylvania's reputation after recent conflicts involving her predecessor.

"[Residents] should expect peace and transparency.  Anyone's welcome to ask me anything at any time, to come in city hall and talk with me or any of the employees of the city," she said.

"Everything's going to be out in the open, and we're hoping for no conflict and just a good small town reputation that Sylvania used to uphold."

Dollar wants to emphasize improvements to the recreation facilities, while maintaining the good course she said the city is already on.

"You should expect the same services you have received," she said.

"I want to continue to move Guntersville forward and have positive things happen. I want to work on tourism, recreation; they're some bigger areas that I think we can expand on."

Dollar and Wooten said they look forward to meeting each other.

"It's wonderful, that's exciting, congratulations Emily," Dollar said.

Wooten was glad to know there's another new mayor with a similar background.

"I think that's awesome, I think more people of our generation should get into politics and follow in their parents' or their elders' footsteps," Wooten said.

Three other Tennessee Valley women won election in mayoral races.

Katy Woodall was re-elected in Fyffe, Ider councilwoman Wendy Lassiter will be the town's new mayor, and first-time candidate Leah Newton takes over in Anderson.

Dianne Prestridge qualified for a run off in Arab.


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