By Mike Steely
Democrat Courtney Durrett surprised a lot of people recently by being elected to the Knox County Commission. She and her Republican opponent, Grant Rosenberg, ran honorable campaigns for Michele Carringer’s District 2 seat and now Durrett hopes to bring her experience and voice as one of two Democrats to that body.
The well-spoken Central High School graduate has a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee and is the child of two public school teachers. Durrett has classroom teaching experience, founded the Fountaincrest Neighborhood Association, and served as a part-time staff member in the Office of Neighborhoods. Durrett has two children with husband, Ruf.
The Knoxville Focus asked Durrett several questions as follows.
Please make a statement about your recent campaign.
We ran a strong, upbeat, high road campaign. It was a lot of hard work but it definitely paid off.
How did that affect your family, business or other interests?
My family was supportive, and we all worked together. We all made calls, door-knocked etc. I am glad my children had an opportunity to see how this works as I did when I was little. It was time-consuming and took me away from them but we all knew it would be worth it in the long run.
Tell us a bit about your family.
I am a home-grown girl. My family has lived in District 2 for at least four generations. I was born at St. Mary’s and so were my children. I attended Belle Morris Elementary, Whittle Springs Middle, Central High and UTK for both of my degrees. I moved away for a few years after graduating from UT, but my husband and I decided to come back to raise our family here.
What are your hopes for the county?
I am excited that the commission has new people who will bring energy and new ideas and will mesh well with the experienced commissioners and their proven ideas. I look forward to the new innovations and fresh perspectives to come.
What is your main hobby or interest in your private life?
I bake cakes in my spare time (when that exists). It started with making birthday cakes for my own children and grew from there.
What do you see as your main accomplishments in life?
Aside from winning this election and being a mom and a wife, I am a dedicated public school teacher, and I created our neighborhood’s association. I also started the state’s Fiber to the Home program when I worked for the state’s Economic and Community Development Department that provides grants to rural areas for fiber internet services.
How do you think other people see you?
I am committed, hard-working and tenacious. I am easy to work for, get along with and flexible. I value others’ opinions but also expect the same in return.
How has COVID-19 touched your life?
COVID-19 has added stress to our lives. It has affected my children’s ability to learn and socialize. It has hindered our ability to see my parents. It has affected my ability to do daily tasks. I was unable to meet people in person during my campaign. So it has been tough for us as it has for everyone. But on a much larger scale, it saddens me that so many people have died and have been sick including some close friends.
If you had to do one thing over in your life what would that be?
I honestly would not change anything. Everything that has happened in my life has led me to be exactly where I am right now. And I wouldn’t change that for the world. But, my knee-jerk reaction was to say I would avoid injuring my knee playing sports (pun intended).
If you chose one thing in your position that is very satisfactory what would that be?
I now have an opportunity to be an advocate for education and community on a much larger scale.
What’s your favorite meal or place to dine?
My favorite meal is one shared with my family and friends that we have all made together.