Newman resigns from Sylva Town Council

Natalie Newman. File photo Natalie Newman. File photo

Natalie Newman has been serving her community on five different boards and associations for the past several years, but announced suddenly over the weekend that she was stepping away from it all. 

“Effective immediately due to concerns I cannot and shall not publicly express, I resign in every capacity from every board I currently hold seat on,” Newman said in a Facebook post. “Thank you for allowing me to serve my community.” 

Newman served on the Main Street Sylva Association Board, the Southwestern NC Housing Consortium, Carolina Smokies Association of Realtors, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, and was elected to the Sylva Town Council in 2021, making her the first Black woman in Sylva history to hold the position.

Newman also ran for mayor of Sylva during the 2023 election, but ultimately lost to Johnny Phillips.

According to Town Manager Paige Dowling, Newman sent a message to board members and town staff on Saturday afternoon with the same language in her Facebook post announcing her resignation and asked that recipients not respond to the message.

The board will advertise the vacancy on the board in the Sylva Herald. Applications for the board vacancy will be due to town hall by May 1 and distributed to the board for review in open session during the May 9 meeting. During its May 23 meeting the board will vote by ballot to fill the vacancy.

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“Ballots will contain the board member’s name and a list of candidates to choose from,” said Dowling. “The announcement of the vote must be public including the board member’s name and selection choice.”

The newly appointed board member will be sworn in on May 30.

In the recent vote over whether to allow Sylva Pride’s application for a partial street closure for a parade during its Pride event, Newman and Commissioner Brad Waldrop were the only members of the board who advocated for permitting the application.

“I want to make it very clear that I am deeply hurt and disappointed following our last meeting and the recent decision and vote to deny Sylva Pride’s application for a two-block street closure,” said Newman during the board’s April 11 meeting. “It is not the denial that has been so troubling to me, more so it is how flippantly and hastily this board made that decision with little to no consideration about what was before us.” 

Similarly, in a February vote on a panhandling ordinance, Waldrop and Newman were the only two board members to vote against the ordinance.

“Natalie has inspired me in our relatively short time together on the Sylva Town Board of Commissioners with her intelligence, compassion and bravery,” said Waldrop in a Facebook post. “I suspect few people realize how committed she has been to serve our town and community. In fact, I have no idea how she’s made time to do it with such passion and dedication considering everything she’s been involved with. She’s one of the most impressive people I know. It’s a tremendous loss for our town and community to no longer have her serving us in an official capacity, but I know she will continue to excel in other ways and be able to spend more time with her sweet family. Thank you, Natalie.”

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