Cameron Brooks Announces for Council

By Focus Staff

Cameron Brooks, a former member of the Knox County Election Commission and local realtor, kicked off his campaign for an at-large seat on the Knoxville City Council on March 9. Brooks held his campaign opener at the Beck Cultural Center and enjoyed the biggest crowd of the off-year election season with somewhere around 150 people in attendance. To enthusiastic and loud applause and cheering, Brooks made it official, saying, “I’m running for City Council to be a voice for working people.”

Unlike most candidates for City Council in recent years, Cameron Brooks has been laser-focused in his pitch; namely that working families need and deserve a councilman especially attuned to their needs. Brooks has been hammering home the 40% increase in the property tax passed by the Knoxville City Council. “The average family is paying $320 more a month in groceries, and on top of that the city passed a 40% increase in property taxes.” Brooks then rang a bell one doesn’t hear from other candidates. “. . .I’ll state here tonight that increases in the property tax raise mortgage payments and rents for working families. There’s no getting around that fact.” Then Brooks dropped the bombshell. “Therefore, I feel very comfortable in saying that when elected during my four-year term on City Council, I pledge to vote ‘no’ on any increase to the property and sales tax rate,” Brooks said to cheers from the crowd.

The audience was probably the most diverse of any event held for a candidate for City Council this year. Old and young were well represented, as well as black and white, Republicans and Democrats.

The kickoff was opened by Reverend Harold Middlebrook, a hero of the Civil Rights movement and local pastor. Middlebrook is the treasurer of Brooks’ campaign and one of the best-known community leaders in Knoxville. Reverend Middlebrook, a speaker of renown, introduced each speaker in his typically gracious way. Sandy Hicks, who spent her entire adult life working as a custodian, paid a moving tribute to Brooks, recalling their meeting on the University of Tennessee campus. Cameron Brooks worked as an organizer and advocate for workers. Hicks, soft-spoken and self-effacing, quietly told the audience Brooks was the first person ever to tell her she had a greater value as a person than merely a woman who cleaned toilets. “I didn’t know it,” Sandy Hicks said softly, “but Cameron knew it.”

Carmen Trammell attested to Brooks’ love for and dedication to animals in general and dogs in particular. Trammel said Brooks has raised thousands of dollars for dogs and noted he and his husband have three rescue dogs. Brooks is a member of the Board of Directors of Young-Williams.

Reverend Middlebrook then introduced former State Representative Ray Hill, noting they had been friends for better than forty years. Hill amply demonstrated he could still rouse an audience and bring them to their feet with an old-fashioned stump speech.

Brooks mounted the platform to a wave of applause and announced he has been knocking on doors and has observed how the recent property tax increase has hit working people and families. Cameron Brooks also offered the idea of partnering with local schools to rehab properties inside the city to sell at a price buyers could afford, which would allow students to learn trades like heat and air, construction, electrical work and the like and possibly get school credit for it. Brooks pointed out those properties would go back on the tax rolls, providing revenue for the city government while housing families.

Cameron Brooks chided his opponent in the coming election, Councilwoman Lynne Fugate, for having suggested cutting back the City’s share of the sales tax to the schools from 75 cents out of every dollar to 50 cents. Brooks flatly stated he was against diminishing the city’s commitment to our school system.

Brooks has been going through neighborhoods while knocking on doors and visiting with individual voters. “Crime is the biggest issue so far,” Brooks said. “I don’t think that surprises anyone. It doesn’t surprise me.”