Publisher’s Positions

By Steve Hunley

Knoxville City Mayor- You Have A Choice

Some folks need to be reminded Indya Kincannon has an opponent on the ballot in the mayoral election. Jeff Talman has been active in the community for decades.

Talman has business experience; had it not been for Rogero, Indya’s first real job would have been as mayor of Knoxville. Instead, to bolster Indya’s credentials, Rogero created a job allowing Kincannon to sort through applicants for city appointments.

Talman advocates for a safer Knoxville for everyone. Indya hired a police chief from New Orleans and got herself sued over the lack of transparency in the process while crime rises in Knoxville.

Jeff Talman believes in managing the government with the money available, while Indya keeps spending with little to show for it, except for higher rents and mortgages. The first thing Kincannon did after convincing the city council to increase property taxes by 40% was to cut services by pulling back KPD officers from going to the scene of auto accidents without injuries. Anyone having a car accident in the City of Knoxville where no one is injured has no police report for the insurance companies, which will also increase insurance rates here.

Talman argues the city should be managed through growth, just as Knox County has been. It’s been 25 years since Knox County raised its property tax rate. Even Lynne Fugate, in speaking to a local club said the mayor had to raise taxes “every four years.”

Jeff Talman probably wouldn’t be building yet another bridge beside two others for UT and the Vol Navy. Indya convinced the city council to spend $150,000 to hire a grant writer — apparently there are no grant writers working for either the city or the University of Tennessee — to ask for money to build the bridge, which was turned down by the federal government. Of course, Indya has thoughtfully promised several million dollars so that folks can float down the river to skip across the bridge which, coincidentally, comes out at Neyland Stadium. Naturally, it will be paid for by people who couldn’t afford a boat of any kind.

If you like paying for other people’s pleasures, go for Kincannon. If you like somebody not anxious to tax you out of your home and replace it with a cubicle, well… you can figure it out.


Brooks Vs. Fugate

City Councilwoman Lynne Fugate is still continuing to distance herself from her former Republican party.  Mayor Indya Kincannon wants to keep Fugate on council because the councilwoman will pretty much rubber stamp whatever the mayor wants. Fugate and Kincannon were both big supporters of former school Superintendent Jim McIntyre when they were both on the Knox County Board of Education. Fugate supported McIntyre’s bid to outsource the most poorly paid of school employees — custodians — while he pulled down a salary in excess of that paid to both the vice president of the United States and the chief justice of the U. S Supreme Court. In an article profiling the council race between Fugate and Cameron Brooks, the Compass, which has always been cozy with the Rogero and Kincannon administrations, brags on Fugate’s background, especially as a banker. Fugate was pretty free with the taxpayers’ money on the school board and once told her colleagues sometimes they need to simply do a leap of faith. That’s when The Focus asked if she and her bank gave folks “Leap of Faith” loans. Evidently, only the taxpayers did that, not private businesses.

Fugate’s association with Nine Counties, One Vision saw less than a blind man. It accomplished nothing except to provide a nice salary for Fugate. Another waste of taxpayer money, but Lynne Fugate has derived her support from the “country club” Republicans who have dwindled down to practically nothing. That is the diametric opposite of Cameron Brooks, who is campaigning on a populist theme attractive to Independents, Republicans and Democrats. Brooks talks about working folks, promises NOT to vote to increase taxes during his four-year term if elected, and wants to see more and better jobs so that families can afford homes. Brooks isn’t shy about pointing out Fugate voted for a 40% increase in Knoxville’s property taxes and while she talks about “affordable housing,” mortgages and rents increased as a result of the tax hike, making housing LESS affordable for working families. Instead, Brooks touts homeownership and lifting people up to the middle class.

To quote from the Compass, “Polarization is frustrating to Fugate, who is often characterized as a Republican, though city elections are nonpartisan and she rejects the label.”

Kincannon, trying to convince Democrats to support a woman who had been a country club Republican her entire life until it became inconvenient, gave Fugate her “enthusiastic” endorsement. That was seconded by the godmother of Kincannon’s mayoralty, her predecessor Madeline Rogero. Neither reckoned with a bigger name and one who counts for far more with Democrats locally: state Representative Gloria Johnson. Johnson endorsed Cameron Brooks last week, praising the challenger for speaking out on behalf of working folks.


Beacon Center Poll

The Beacon Center polled 1,120 Tennesseans recently, only 14% of those polled said they are better off than last year. 46% of respondents said they were worse off than at the same time in 2022. 31% stated paying their rent or mortgage was a monthly concern; an additional 37% said it was a concern some of the time.


Thomas “Tank” Strickland Passes Away

It is with deep sadness The Focus notes the passing of Thomas “Tank” Strickland. A man who served on the Knox County Commission and was elected by his colleagues to chair that body even though the majority was composed of Republicans while Strickland was a Democrat. Politically speaking, Tank Strickland would have been out of place in today’s world of hyper-partisanship. Tank was able to work with anyone who was open to working with him.

During his long career, Thomas “Tank” Strickland was an aide to then-Mayor Victor Ashe, a community activist, and Knox County Commissioner. Eventually, Strickland worked under four mayors of Knoxville. Fundamentally, at the very heart of his being, Tank Strickland cared about and loved people. That is the key ingredient in a public servant being good at what he or she does, a devotion to helping others. That recipe was one Tank knew by heart. To the very end of his life Tank Strickland was still doing for others and giving of himself, his knowledge, experience, and time to help his city and community.

There was nothing flamboyant about Tank, although he had a well-developed sense of humor and loved to laugh. Tank was easygoing, but he was also extremely determined when it came to pursuing a project or goal he believed to be important. Tank’s good nature and good humor never wavered in the face of recurrent health problems.

We at The Focus offer our heartfelt condolences to the Strickland family.