BRISTOL, Va. — Current Bristol Virginia Vice Mayor Bill Hartley appears poised to reclaim the mayor’s post when the Bristol Virginia City Council reorganizes Wednesday.
Hartley, 50, was mentioned as the likely successor to Neal Osborne, who completes a one-year term as mayor today. City voters don’t select a mayor at the polls because the five sitting council members choose mayor and vice mayor among themselves. The city charter prescribes that council hold its annual reorganizational meeting each July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.
“I feel like the position of mayor should rotate with some regularity because I think it is beneficial for the city to get different ideas and different types of leadership.” Osborne said Friday. “I think it’s the appropriate time to switch, and I would be fine with Mr. Hartley being mayor.”
Hartley was first elected to the council in 2014 and reelected in 2018. He served one year as mayor in 2016-17 and is completing his second term as vice mayor.
“Bill is, without question, one of the smartest people to serve on City Council. He would provide very steady leadership, and he has the experience to be successful,” Osborne said.
If asked, Osborne said he “probably” would serve another term as mayor but doesn’t expect it.
“I feel like I’ve had a good year as mayor. We’ve had some good successes, and we’ve had setbacks due to things out of our control,” Osborne said.
Hartley, employed as the development director for the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, Tennessee, said he would accept another term as mayor.
“Depending on what the council wants — if we follow what we traditionally have done, which is rotating the positions — then I would anticipate that,” Hartley said. “I’ve done it before and would be happy to do it again.”
Councilman Anthony Farnum, who was appointed to the council in 2018 and was recently elected to a four-year term, also supports Hartley.
“My understanding the council has always rotated — the vice mayor becomes mayor, the mayor becomes councilman, and someone takes vice mayor. I really like that idea. We’ve kind of gotten back on track with that, I think, after not doing it for a little while. If that is the case, I would support Mr. Hartley to move from vice mayor to mayor,” Farnum said.
Osborne supports Farnum to become vice mayor.
“I don’t know who will become vice mayor, but it should be Anthony. As people saw in the election, he has a very strong passion for the city, and it would be very beneficial for us to have him as vice mayor,” Osborne said.
Farnum said he would serve if nominated.
“If that was a possibility, I would be very humbled, very excited to serve the citizens of Bristol in that role,” Farnum said.
Councilman Kevin Mumpower, who also recently won reelection, said he’s had no communication with other members in advance of Wednesday’s meeting.
“I called a couple of them and left messages, but they haven’t called me back,” Mumpower said Monday. “They don’t like me, so they won’t vote for me.”
Councilman Kevin Wingard didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment for this story.
The reorganizational meeting is scheduled at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the City Hall council chambers, 300 Lee St.