1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
The opioid crisis in our county and city is the most overlooked issue heading into the county, city, and national elections. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. In Tennessee, the number was 1,263 who died from opioid overdose in 2014. We have to do better, and as City Council members, we have to give our law enforcement the tools to combat this disease, while also promoting, and funding addiction recovery services. This is not an issue that just affects the lower income communities in our city, but affects our entire city, and a strong focus on helping those in need, while funding law enforcement must be a focus of our City Council going forward.
I propose that the city undertake a program to install drop boxes for unused meds throughout the city, or that the city, if resources are available create a drug buyback program for opioids. Much like successful gun buyback programs in other states, our Knoxville city police would provide a process by which the public could sell their illegal drugs back to the government to get them off the street. The D.E.A. has enacted similar policies similar with success. While this might come at a cost to our local government, the cost of opioid addiction comes at a far greater cost to our city in terms of safety, health, addiction and promoting family values that we care so deeply about.
2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
Race relations in this country have been a matter of torment for generations. Genuine distrust among our law enforcement, as well as those of our city, has magnified the issues we face with violence within our city limits. Our current chief of police has taken one approach in establishing a relationship with those in leadership roles in the neighborhoods of our most vulnerable to combat the violence in our city. For a City Councilman to do his job, he must understand the role he plays, and that is of understanding the economical and sociological issues of our neighborhoods that have the most violent numbers. As a City Councilperson, I would want to go to those neighborhoods, ask them their beliefs on how to make their lives better, how to make their neighborhoods better and how we could affect them and their children’s lives for the better in the future.
3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
The Second District has considerable development already underway. The residents that I would be representing welcome this economic growth, but at the same time, we have to minimize urban sprawl, and/or developing noise pollution and traffic congestion for our community. Such problems are neither good for our environment, nor contribute to a healthier way of life. We need to focus on efforts to attract the younger base of consumers, millennials and ensure that we create bike paths, greenways, more urban mass transportation and smart growth policies that will ensure that our community is growing, but not at the cost of our quality of life.
4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
The greatest unresolved issue is the proliferation of short-term rentals. While I understand that this issue needs to be addressed, I do not feel that the government should forbid residents from using their private property as they see fit. If a person would like to own a short term rental in their home, I believe that regulations need to be put in place to ensure that the negative effect among other residents in the neighborhood is negated and that no property values are adversely affected and traffic congestion is avoided. In essence, I believe all stabilized neighborhoods should be protected while others may need to be stabilized. This is not a one neighborhood fits every neighborhood issue, and we need elected officials to address it that way.
5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I’ve served in a youth sports nonprofit for over two decades. But before that I coached youth sports teams for over 10 years. All that time, I’ve served my community, not myself. I began just out of college, when I chose to serve my country in the height of the Vietnam War in the Navy. Community leaders should believe in service, not as a stepping-stone to wealth or status. I’m not ambitious or opportunistic. I’m not looking to run for higher office. I’m looking to do what’s right for the people of the Second District and for this city. As a City Councilmember, that’s all I can hope to do or promise to the voters, to represent our communities’ interests and not my own.