By Focus Staff
For those who don’t think there would be political repercussions from the proposed tax increases sought by school Superintendent James McIntyre, the results of this week’s Focus poll indicates otherwise.
More than 500 Knox County voters were asked the question, “Knox County Commissioner At-Large Mike Hammond has proposed both a property tax increase and a sales tax increase for schools. Would you support Commissioner Mike Hammond for reelection?”
The results were a resounding “no.”
Surprisingly, Hammond demonstrated no strength in any Commission district. Even the Fourth District, which has been historically more friendly to tax increases for education, posted a heavy majority of voters indicating they would not back Hammond for another term. More than 70% of voters in the Fourth District say they would not support Hammond for reelection.
Mike Hammond is Chairman of the Knox County Commission and one of two Commissioners-At-Large; the other is Ed Shouse. Both Commissioners Shouse and Hammond run county-wide.
Recently, Commissioner Hammond crafted a proposal with Board of Education Chairman Thomas Deakins that would increase both the sales and property taxes for schools. Apparently, the Hammond – Deakins proposal is wildly unpopular throughout Knox County.
More than 74% of voters in the largely African-American First District say they would not support Hammond for reelection; almost 79% of voters in the Second District said they would not back Hammond again. The margin fell slightly in the Third District with just over 74% saying they would no longer support Hammond for reelection.
Commissioner Hammond had been a long-time resident of the Fifth District, which is largely comprised of the Town of Farragut, before moving to South Knoxville. Hammond had originally won election to the Knox County Commission from the Fifth District before being elected Commissioner-At-Large. Still, Hammond’s numbers in his native Fifth District were dismal. Almost 80% of voters in the Fifth District indicated they would not support Hammond for reelection in 2014.
The number was even higher in the Sixth District; the Eighth, and Ninth Districts also posted numbers over the county-wide average of 76%. The total in the Seventh District was just over 76%.
The totals county-wide indicate Hammond would be very vulnerable in a primary contest in two years; it is doubtful he could get to the general election.
The poll is a clear indication of the feeling of the voters, despite a heavy investment by the Chamber of Commerce and the Superintendent’s allies of a $50,000 advertising campaign. Commercials have been running in heavy rotation on cable channels, as well the evening news broadcasts. Evidently the advertising campaign has little effect, save to make even more voters aware of the effort to increase taxes.
As more and more voters become engaged, it looks like those Commissioners flirting with the idea of voting for a large tax increase may well be headed for defeat in the next election cycle.
Click here to view full poll breakdown.