By Steve Hunley

The biggest issue in the coming City of Knoxville elections is, without a doubt, Recode.  Knoxville’s longest serving mayor, Victor Ashe, has appropriately termed it a massive “rezoning” package and indeed it does affect virtually every property within the city limits.  Nor has the city council kept its promises while at the same time relieving itself of the requirement to notify property owners when city government contemplates some change in that property’s status.

Recode has gone through more changes than Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; it has more holes in it than a colander.  Unfortunately, all too much of campaigning now comes down to sloganeering, like advertisements for cell phones, toothpaste and breakfast cereals.  We hear candidates slogans boldly proclaim “it’s for the children,” “let’s keep Knoxville safe,” and proclaiming their strong support for “better roads.”  The good thing about sloganeering is the very fact it is not specific and makes the reader or viewer feel good.  Who doesn’t love children, doesn’t want better roads and to be safe?

Of the six candidates running for mayor of Knoxville, only Eddie Mannis has produced a comprehensive plan to deal with Recode.  Mannis states that if he is elected mayor he would ask the city council at the new council’s very first meeting in December of this year to delay the effective date to allow the new administration appropriate time to evaluate the ordinance with the Metropolitan Planning Commission and staff.

Mannis proposes to “expand the Stakeholder Committee to reflect a wider range of the community at large,” intending to “specifically include broader neighborhood representation.”

Eddie Mannis says we must “identify and address” all those “changes that are created regarding land use, density, property valuation, and demand on public services with each neighborhood/community.”

Mannis also proposes to be certain that Recode conforms with “the most currently adopted land use plans for each community.”  Eddie Mannis also recognizes the critical need that the City of Knoxville must absolutely identify any discrepancies between Recode and “the requirements of the State of Tennessee.”  In essence, Recode must conform to the strictures of State law.  Lastly, Mannis says that under his administration, the final information will be reduced to easy-to-understand language that will be widely disseminated to Knoxvillians, including at libraries, senior centers and through the news media.

In his statement, Eddie Mannis clearly acknowledged neighborhood organizations are vital to the process.  “It is critically important that neighborhood groups have a seat at the table and are added to the Stakeholder Committee,” Mannis said.

As Mannis stated, there is no rush to implement Recode.  For so important an issue, as well as one that affects every property owner inside the city limits, the process should be cautious, thoughtful and reasoned.  That has been largely absent throughout the process and when the government is taking away the rights of citizens that’s always a sign something isn’t right.  Fortunately, State Representative Martin Daniel has said he will try and rectify that in Nashville next year.

The process should be utterly open and transparent and there are no stakeholders more important than the residents of neighborhoods.  After all, what would Knoxville be without those neighborhoods?

Sloganeering and lip service to homeowners’ associations is to be expected of most politicians and that is what voters are getting from most of the candidates for mayor.  Not so with Eddie Mannis.  Mr. Mannis has crafted an excellent and thoughtful Recode proposal, as well as proving his determination to stand and fight for what he believes is right.  Marshall Stair has given his vote on city council to the current Recode mess throughout the process.  Indya Kincannon is nothing more than a rubber stamp for the continuation of Rogero’s agenda.  Only Eddie Mannis has demonstrated proven leadership by offering that rarest of gifts in politics: an actual solution that benefits the people.