By Mike Steely
The Knoxville Focus is featuring citizens in our community, sitting down with them for an informal chat, so our readers can know them better.
Mark Campen represents the 5th District on the Knoxville City Council and holds a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife management and Fisheries Science and a minor in Forestry. He’s Executive Director Tennessee Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.
Campen is term limited and is currently serving out the final year. The Knoxville Focus sat down with him for a chat.
How is your position working for you?
It can be stressful at times, for sure, but I still enjoy trying to help constituents with issues. It is not what folks see in the media, but one of the essential parts of the position is simply connecting people to people, getting city departments in touch with constituents to resolve certain problems or issues.
How is it affecting your family, business or other interests?
It definitely takes a toll on work and family time. I told someone years ago going into my second term that as important as the position is, it is still a part-time position. My family and work come first. That has been the toughest part of the job, to attempt to balance all three amongst other obligations as well.
Tell us a bit about your family
I am a native Knoxvillian. My family is from Knoxville, as is my wife, Emily. We bought our first home together in the Fountain City area in 2005. We have two children. Our son, Parson, is ten years old and daughter Phoebe is five. Emily was a teacher with Knox County Schools for years, and then a few years ago took ownership of the Flower Pot floral business.
What are your hopes for the city or county?
My hope is that we will continue to have quality growth and development, with the emphasis on quality. There needs to be good communications and planning between the city and the county to provide the infrastructure and opportunity for private investment, residentially and commercially, that will provide affordable housing, a good public education system and the economic growth that comes with an attractive county such as Knox.
What is your main hobby or interest in your private life?
I enjoy many outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, fishing, bird watching and general nature exploration.
What do you see as your main accomplishments in life?
Well, other than my beautiful wife and family, I have been able to work towards goals I feel are worthy regarding natural resource conservation. There are still many things I want to do that involve helping people, but simply trying to educate youth and adults about water quality and our natural world has been very rewarding thus far.
How do you think other people see you?
I do not want to know! Hopefully as a good father, husband and a kind person that is helpful to those in need.
If you had to do one thing over in your life what would that be?
Work harder in school and expose myself to more opportunities in life, i.e., traveling abroad as a younger person to learn about other cultures and career options.
What do you think of a metro-form government in the future?
I think it has its pros and cons. There are definitely departments that it makes more sense to combine, like parks and rec or law enforcement, but it may be a bad idea when considering general government operations and the politics of a combined city and county government. I would like to research what other municipalities have done in that regard and what were the results to see what have been the successes and failures.
If you chose one thing in your position that is very satisfactory what would that be?
Satisfactory or satisfying? One thing that is satisfying is when I can address an issue with a community or constituent in the district and help them fulfill a need or solve a problem. It is often easier said than done.
What’s your favorite meal or place to dine?
We don’t eat out too often, I enjoy cooking, but my family has been known to enjoy La Paz (Che Guevara) quite a bit over the years.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who cared a lot about his community and worked hard to make it, and the world, a better place.