Freddie Taylor was recognized Tuesday night for 18 years of dedicated service to the City of Sulphur Springs as the Place 4 City Councilman. Taylor opted this year not to seek another term in office.
He was toasted during a reception at City Hall by city staff, fellow council and community members during the come and go reception Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
Three different types of cake, chicken legs, meatballs, and chicken strips, water and tea were among the items served at the event.
City officials presented Taylor with custom artwork by Mike Elliott, featuring a drawing of Taylor, the front and Council Chambers of the renovated City Hall, Celebration Square, and the new HW Grays Building.
“As Mayor of Sulphur Springs, it has been and honor and privilege to serve with you. I’ve been with you for 11 years. You had served 7 years before that. You are making me the senior member,” Sulphur Springs Mayor John Sellers said. “It’s been a great ride. You’ve been a wonderful colleague. You’ve been through a lot of times. There were times when it was just kind of you and me. You were always by my side and I hope you feel I was by your side. You have done a wonderful job for this city. You have been a great representative for this city. You are going to be sorely missed.”
Taylor offered thanks first to God for the opportunities he has given Taylor and his family in Sulphur Springs. He and his family first arrived in Sulphur Springs in 2000. He is thankful Rev. Hendricks for inspiring him to serve. He said he began serving on the city Council in 2004 and Carolyn Thomas on the school board that same year.
“That was direct from Pastor Hendricks. He challenged me to do it. I had no idea and no agenda. I am so thankful that I did not have a set agenda coming on here. My agenda was to learn and to serve,” Taylor said.
The most tenure city councilman said joining Texas Association of Black City Council Members also allowed him to learn a whole lot of things that he wouldn’t have otherwise known. The organization assisted the Taylor family in scholarships, doing a golf tournament.
“For this city here, I am so thankful to be here and to be part of a fraternity of city council members. There’s no greater platform to serve our community than to be on City Council. Eighteen years- I just thank God for that,” Taylor added.
He too extended appreciation to his wife, Rita, who he said was not only there with him and supporting him every day, but served as his campaign manager, treasurer and advisor — guiding him. Without his wife, Taylor said, there would have been no 18 years of service on the City Council. She pointed out in the beginning how good it would be for their 3-year-old and all of their children to see him in the position of City Councilman. That little girl is now 21 and has seen her dad serve as she’s grown up.
He said it continued what his parents taught him, to be part of the community. In Alabama, his mentor Mr. Jarmon was the first Black City Councilman in Ozark, Alabama. While great, he never thought he’d serve on a City Council until Pastor Hendricks brought it to his attention.
“Being on the City Council, the secretaries – I’ve been through 2 of them: Sharon and Gale, my favorite city secretary in the whole wide world. At the same time Gale had a great boss, and we had to fight for him. I tell you if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it all over again, because he is the right man for the job. Sulphur Springs has truly prospered because of this. I am truly thankful to be able to call him my friend and to be able to call all of my City Council members,” Taylor said.
He expressed appreciation to Tommy Harrison for stepping up to the plate to serve in Place 4, when he could have just as easily stayed in the community.
“It takes a special person to stay on the City Council,” Taylor said. “You deal with this and you deal with that that, but it is so very satisfying when you can pass the ordinances that are going to make your community great. That’s what we have, a great community — from all of our department heads on down, everybody that works every day countless, doing the things that we ask them to do as City Council members. They do it and do it happily. I am so glad to be a part of that, to be a part of a city that is done like that.”
He said often when at conferences and meetings with council members from other cities he’s heard of friction between members. He is grateful to return to Sulphur Springs, where the City Council works together.
Taylor said he’s confident, the positive work will continue. There will be times when hard decisions have to be made, possibly not always right away, but he expressed confidence that working together, the City Council will come to the right decision eventually. Through those tough times, you have to know who and what you are, and keep pushing forward, Taylor said.
Place 6 Councilman Doug Moore said while the occasion wasn’t a roast of Freddie Taylor, he did feel compelled to share his most vivid memory, a time when both Moore and Taylor attended a Texas Municipal League conference in Fort Worth. They were staying at the same hotel. Taylor got on a bus and made a circuit which in stead of his hotel ended up brining him back to the conference center. He then took a different bus, and realizing it wasn’t going where he wanted to go either, got off the bus and began walking north of Fort Worth. He quickly realized that wasn’t where he wanted to be long, and sped up his pace. He ended up walking back. When they left the meal later that night, Moore said he asked him if he was sure they were on the right bus back. They were, he made sure of it, the Place 6 Councilman said, but hasn’t let Taylor forget about it.
Taylor’s wife, some of his children and other family members, friends, current and past council and community members turned out to wish him well and express appreciation to him for his service.