Twenty-five years, a quarter of a century. That’s how long Sean Terry served Celina, his town, his home. Sean Terry is best known as the former mayor dedicating half his life serving Celina.
The “Punter from Gunter”, Sean grew up a coach’s son moving often. He graduated from Gunter as a four sport All-American athlete. During his senior year, Sean became a Gunter volunteer firefighter and his athletic talents earned him a full football scholarship playing for Texas A&M University.
At the end of his freshman year of college, Sean met his wife, Angie. While Angie and Sean did not know each other until college, their parents had the same circle of friends. Believing it was fate, they married six months later, after the Aggies played in the 1993 Cotton Bowl.
After college, The Terrys moved to Celina. Sean had a brief stint with the Carolina Panthers and then as a Graduate Assistant at Texas A&M but decided not to coach. He worked in sales for a tractor company where he would make sales calls on cities. Sean recalls, “I was never one to have just one job, so I also helped a buddy doing land title work.” The tractor company got bought out, so he called on an old acquaintance, Mehrdad Moayedi of Centurion American Development Group. “I understood how cities worked and the planning process,” says Sean. “I thought I would be a good fit at Centurion and have now been there almost 12 years,” he continued.
Sean wished to serve, so he returned as a volunteer firefighter in Celina. He volunteered for 11 years, even helping hire the first Fire Chief. In 1997, Celina had 15 firefighters who helped mow the city park as city funds were limited. This is where Sean met Corbett Howard (Celina Councilman at time) forming a long friendship.
Flashforward to 2009 when the city council gained an open seat. Corbett suggested Sean run, which he did victoriously. As the city grew, it became difficult to be a councilmember and firefighter, so he left the department and stayed on council until 2013. The mayor at the time resigned to move and Sean “threw my hat in the race and won,” he said. He was elected and served the next 10 years.
Sean doesn’t boast of accomplishments, although there are many such as preparing for Celina’s growth. “We knew growth was coming so we started early forming relationships with state and local governments,” Sean recalls. The council realized Celina would need to focus on infrastructure before the growth came.
“We were prepared,” Sean states. Council worked with developers and government agencies at all levels. Sean notes, “We knew to make downtown special to attract people to come here. It’s part of the infrastructure.”
Second, he served as Vice President (and later President) of the North Texas Mayors Association. Celina never had that level of representation before. “It helped us learn and get ahead of the game. It gave Celina notoriety,” says Sean.
Perhaps most notable is Sean’s leadership during the Covid Pandemic. Sean thought, “Do I want to live in a world that is scared, or do I want to be a leader?” He decided the goal was to make sure every business knew it was essential.
Sean started updating people weekly – sometimes daily – via Facebook Live. Because developments were constantly changing, Sean knew citizens needed to hear him support businesses, citizens, plus first responders. He wanted to show unity, so he proceeded with the annual Fourth of July event. “We were the only city in the county that had a Fourth of July event,” Sean says. “If it’s good for the town, it needs to be done,” he strongly affirms.
Lastly, Sean credits the “little things” as a success. For example, he’s grateful the city employee turnover rate was only 2% over the last five years. He is proud the city acknowledged Celina students’ achievements and honors. And, he’s extremely proud of Celina becoming the “first gigabit town". He notes, “I probably didn’t toot my horn enough, I don’t care. I don’t live by all my accomplishments, but I worked hard for the city.”
Former Celina Mayor Corbett Howard, now Market President of Lamar National Bank, confirms Sean’s leadership and legacy. “Sean showed up for every crisis event in Celina, leading rescue efforts. He was a thoughtful, stable leader.” Howard continues, “As Mayor, he led Celina from a population of 7,500 to the current population of 43,000. He led the infrastructure expansion without raising taxes, plus helped Celina to be the first Gigabit City in Texas. During COVID, he protected our citizens allowing businesses to survive. Sean had compassion and vision for Celina. He was the perfect leader for the city he loves.”
Currently, The Terrys are enjoying more free time while building a new house in Celina. “I am not leaving Celina,” he proclaims. He credits his family supporting him the last twenty-five years. “It was hard on my family—they’re unsung heroes. My family put up with a lot, and I missed a lot of family events. I am very thankful to have them by my side,” he notes.
The Terrys just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Their two children are Celina graduates and proud Aggies. Kylee is a teacher in Wylie and Kade is graduating in May. Sean is active with Texas A&M football and concentrating now on his “one” job.
“I put my heart and soul into that job for 25 years. We embraced the growth and prepared for it. I think that is our greatest legacy,” Sean says. No doubt as Celina continues to develop, the citizens will benefit from the legacy left by Mayor Sean Terry.