William “Bill” Rawls, Jr. became the first African-American mayor in the city of Brownsville in Tennessee. The historic mark is additionally noteworthy as Rawls defeated outgoing mayor Jo Matherne, who was the city’s first female mayor.
Rawls won the election by capturing 65 percent of the vote compared to Matherne’s 35, according to unofficial numbers from the Haywood County Election Commission. Rawls, who co-owns the Rawls Funeral Home in the town, has never held elected office prior to the win. Rawls will be sworn in officially on July 8, and serve a four-year term in the post. Both candidates ran as independents in the race as mandated by the city’s charter for mayoral elections.