To cut city government and community wide carbon emissions, I support the development of a comprehensive and equitable city-wide Community Action Plan. To meet our goals, we will need the cooperation of KUB and TVA. It will also require the commitment and buy-in of the community and therefore priorities for reducing community emissions should be devised by the community, especially those most vulnerable to the impacts and effects of climate change, with the support of city staff.
The City Council is our legislative branch of government and must provide oversight to all departments that comprise the executive branch. Under our current structure, the Police Accountability and Review Committee is within the executive branch. To be able to provide adequate oversight to the Knoxville Police Department, I would like to lead a city-wide conversation to explore transitioning PARC from the Administration to a standing committee of the City Council, similar to the audit committee, but with expanded staffing and an expanded mandate to be able to address whistleblower complaints and complaints of sexual harassment.
As a member of city council, I would support initiatives that address the root causes of gun violence and work to build healthy and safe communities throughout our city. Gun violence is an overwhelming issue that requires a comprehensive response to the mental health challenges, lack of hope, disinvestment, poverty, among other issues, that create the conditions for gun violence in our communities.
Knoxville must look for ways to expand our public transportation as our city continues to grow. The city must engage the community in a discussion of what changes are needed to our public transportation system in order to improve KAT as a service to our city. Expanding routes to side streets could increase ridership significantly enough to warrant the expansion of KAT services but route expansion proposals should be explored through a community-led process.
I am concerned about our poor and indigent residents who continue to fall through the cracks, receiving less than needed in both our city and county budgets often because either entity feels it is the responsibility of the other based on who is being served or the type of service being offered. It is concerning that our county leaders are acknowledging the city residency of those served under the indigent health care program as reason for considering removal of the program from the county budget. The County must not be allowed to turn its back on the indigent residents who reside in and around downtown Knoxville.
Addressing the historic and ongoing disparities that exist in our city is one of my campaign priorities. One way we directly address racial disparities across income is to bring the percentage of city contracts awarded to African-Americans from below 1% to a representational percentage of city contracts (around 16%). Pulling from my experience working with the Lawyers’ Committee Under Law’s Minority Business Program, I would bring forth a resolution authorizing a Disparity Study to review the effectiveness of the city’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program within the Purchasing Department.
The city has the ability to address racial inequalities across issue areas, including government contracting, access to public services and amenities, infrastructure investments, community development projects, community grants, and more. Adopting the use of Racial Equity Impact Statements, much like the use of Environmental Impact Statements and Fiscal Impact Notes, for all major policy, planning and budgetary initiatives would be a useful, participatory tool for assessing the actual or anticipated effects of city policies on racial equity.
There are multiple aspects of Recode that could have a negative impact on our community of renters.  Following Recode, Knoxville will experience more mixed-use development along our corridors, which will increase density where public transportation is already available in an effort to create a more walkable city in the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. A problem arises however when the bulk of those developments, at least initially, cater to high income earning residents - whether renters or buyers.
The absence of a healthcare facility in various parts of our community has compounding effects on our residents, effects that have already begun with the closing of the former St. Mary’s/Tennova North Knoxville campus. In thinking about what should go in the former St. Mary’s site, the city must promote healthy neighborhoods by helping secure the services needed in each part of our city. With the closing of Baptist Hospital and now the Tennova North campus, much of our health services within the city limits are now concentrated in West Knox even with the expansion of the emergency room at Fort Sanders and the 38 beds added at the UT Medical Center.
Knoxville is a beautiful city with some of the friendliest, most laid-back folks you’ll ever meet. It is also a transportation hub, with interstate 40 and 75 running, and 81 just down the road. Knoxville is also within a day’s drive of half of the continental U.S. Our city is truly a gem that is ripe for businesses to locate. Knoxville also has a draw that brings many home even after they’ve spent many years away. The trick is getting more and more young professionals to spend their 20s in Knoxville rather than leaving until it’s time to have a family or retire.
A city with a high rate of poverty like Knoxville must work to increase our workforce, and the wages of our workforce, so that we have a larger population participating regularly in our local economy. One way the city can influence wages in our city is by ensuring city employees earn a living wage and there is not a growing gap between the highest and lowest salary earners. Vacant buildings can be put to good use for residential and commercial purposes with tax incentives and low interest/no interest loans offered by the city. Tax incentives should be restricted to projects that propose a direct benefit to city residents.