Brentwood’s city commissioners on June 10 chose Rhea Little, a fellow commissioner, to represent the city as mayor. Little who has served as a commissioner for 10 years, has never been mayor before.
While he may not have served in this role, Little and his family have served Brentwood and the county for a long time.
Little’s family tree is rich in history. His ancestors moved to the area known today as Brentwood and Franklin in the 1790s, taking advantage of a Revolutionary War land grant, and a pastor who brought his congregation west where there was more land.
“Our family has served the community in the decades since through farming, grocery stores, service stations, and we believe the greatest act is being a servant to all,” Little said.
The last name of Little can be found in leadership positions throughout Williamson County. His cousin, Tommy Little, serves as chairman of the Williamson County Commission. Russell Little serves as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Williamson County Hospital.
Looking back on his childhood, Little remembers the days when his family operated Locus Hills Dairy until 1978 in the area near where Concord Road and Edmondson Pike intersect. Little’s fondest memories are “walking to Brentwood through Ward’s farm (Maryland Farms) to visit my Granddad Rhea’s Shell station or my Uncle Houston’s Arco station.
“There was Noble’s, Lee’s Apothecary and Huff’s Food Town, where I would get balloons (to make water balloons) or to buy candy.”
Little says that during his teen years he spent time at the local hangout, the Red Geranium Pizza Parlor, and the Baskin Robbins after football or basketball games and sometimes just to hang out and see what was going on.
One of Little’s most famous family members is the late Vance T. Little, who wrote several books on Brentwood and served as the historian in the city and at Brentwood United Methodist Church. Many of Vance Little’s works and memorabilia can be found in the John P. Holt Library in the Brentwood Room that is dedicated in his name.
Brentwood’s Historic Commission was founded based on Vance Little’s work, and he is still referenced frequently when discussing the history of the city. Little has an ardent love of history and was inspired by his cousin.
Serving as mayor
Little sees acting as mayor as he has a commissioner.
“Seeking to respond to citizen’s needs and wants and continuing the legacy of those who came before who have provided a wonderful community, the best in the world, for us to live in,” he said.
“Always having a deep-rooted foundation in what makes Brentwood great, while keeping the city fiscally secure and strong, making sure our first responders are given the resources and continue their excellence which provides safety for all our residents and at the same time, striving to provide the tremendous benefits of a fabulous library, a great park system, wonderful trails and the many other services and amenities our citizen’s and the city enjoy,” Little said.
The issues facing Little and the other commissioners in the future are growth and the traffic it creates. It’s worth noting that in the 1800s, one of Brentwood’s early names was “Midway.” The mansion at Brentwood Country Club bears this name.
Little points out, “Brentwood is a midway between so many communities to the north, south, east and west, and if often traversed by people simply coming through the communities on their way to other places, we must continue to find ways to mitigate traffic as much as we are able.”
Indeed, due to the growth in Nashville and surrounding communities, the role of mayor has taken on a more regional representation beyond ribbon cuttings and serving on city boards.
Little owns and operates Rhea Little’s Tire and Auto, a role that helps guide him through the business aspect of serving the city.
Little understands the complex projects involving Franklin Road as it is a vital Brentwood artery but also a state highway and U.S. highway. He also looks at the slowing pace of residential growth “as a good way in assimilating new residents into the community as it’s better for schools, traffic, budgeting and fulfilling amenities needed and wanted by the citizens.”
One area of Brentwood that Little take great pride in is the safety of the citizens and the outstanding efforts of the police and fire. He points out that both have outstanding and internationally accredited departments.
He said, “One pillar of the goal to maintain safety is the building of a new police headquarters that will be more centrally located, will move police operations away from civilian departments and allow the public servants to continue to serve and protect and be recognized as one of the foremost departments in the U.S. and the world.”
Little sees another pillar of excellence in the addition of Station 5 in East Brentwood to continue serving the needs in a growing section of the city. This addition would provide excellent response time in situations where every second counts.
Brentwood is known for being fiscally sound. Commissioners have all made commitments to this common goal. However, Little wants to continue the vigilance in overseeing the budget to continue making the right decisions for safety and security.
For 29 years, the city has not increased property taxes.
Walking beside her husband of 33 years is Little’s wife, Marie. She was in the audience the evening her husband was chosen to be mayor and feels a strong sense of pride.
“I feel the most important characteristic he possesses is integrity,” she said. “He is genuine, trustworthy, honorable and puts others needs above his own. This is how Rhea lives in all aspects of his life.
“He does not seek gratification, and oftentimes is doing things for others that no one even knows about,” she said. “What more could we want from a mayor than someone who strives to do his best even when no one is looking or taking note? He looks at the big picture, thinking about how his choices will affect others, and what he can do to achieve what is best for all involved.”
To learn more about the city of Brentwood, the commissioners or the mayor, visit http://www.brentwoodtn.gov