By Steve Hunley

Gloria Johnson Off and Running

Gloria Johnson made it official, she’s running for the U.S. Senate against Senator Marsha Blackburn. Johnson is heavily relying on the Covenant shootings, the expulsions from the Tennessee House of Representatives of the Justins, Pearson and Jones, and abortion. Johnson’s announcement surprised nobody and she galloped from Knoxville to Nashville and finally to Memphis.

The two co-chairs of her campaign are state Senator Charlane Oliver of Nashville and state Representative Justin Pearson of Memphis. It is no coincidence both Pearson and Oliver are Black. There is already one announced candidate inside the Democrat primary; Marquita Bradshaw surprised everybody when she upset frontrunner James Mackie, who spent more than a million dollars to lose the primary. Bradshaw is Black and most of the votes inside Tennessee’s Democratic primary are concentrated in the two largest counties in the state: Shelby and Davidson. Oliver is from Davidson County and Pearson is from Shelby County. Johnson is hoping to cut heavily into Bradshaw’s support inside the Black community rather than suffer the same fate as James Mackler.


Affordable For Whom?

The City of Knoxville and others have spent $18 million to build 66 units for what Mayor Indya Kincannon calls affordable housing. That means each unit costs something like $272,000. The median income for an individual in Knoxville is $23,898; the median household income in Knoxville is $57,187. Those are the people paying the taxes and building what Kincannon and her crew call affordable housing. I wonder how many of those folks live in homes worth more than $272,000?

9th District Commission

Democrat Matthew Park, who ran for the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2020, is off and running once again. This time Park is running for the Knox County Commission seat being vacated by Carson Dailey in South Knoxville. Park ran in a three-way race against then-state Representative Rick Staples and Sam McKenzie. McKenzie barely won the Democratic primary.

Dailey has served two terms on the county commission and is prohibited from running again due to term limits. Two Republicans, Barry Neal and Andrew Fox, are already off and running for the commission in the Ninth District.


Henderson and Triplett Elected Chair and Vice Chair

The Knox County Board of Education has elected a new chair and vice chair. Betsy Henderson will chair the Knox County Board of Education, replacing Kristi Kristy. Steve Triplett will serve as vice chair. Congratulations to both Betsy Henderson and Steve Triplett!

The school system is moving to address concerns with its own special education programs. Currently, Knox County is facing a shortage of more than 60 special ed teaching positions. The Knox County School system has decided to contract out services in an attempt to quickly fill those jobs and meet its needs. The board also approved a proposal to hire a student access accountability officer, who will have the responsibility of making sure the system complies with all laws and board policies for students with disabilities. That follows a decision by the board of education to adopt a plan to improve its special education programs.

It was Betsy Henderson who presented a resolution to the board of education proposing to make the Knox County School system a model for excellence in special education. That resolution came after recommendations made by a special task force appointed by Superintendent Jon Ryswyck. Henderson’s resolution was unanimously adopted by the board of education.


Cameron Brooks Passes Away

Our community has seen an outpouring of tributes to Cameron Brooks, who passed away unexpectedly on September 1. Brooks was running a strong campaign for the Knoxville City Council when he died. Former Chief Justice of the Tennessee State Supreme Court Sharon Lee posted her own tribute to Cameron on Twitter: “Cameron was exceptionally kind and compassionate and genuinely cared about his community. A good friend. I will miss him.”

Cameron was married to Wes Knott and the two had a home in East Knoxville where they liked to entertain friends and family. Cameron and Wes shared a love for dogs. County Commissioner Courtney Durrett asked for prayers for Cameron’s loved ones at the recent reorganization meeting of the Knox County Commission. Having visited Wes and Cameron’s home, I join with the rest of The Focus family in sending Wes and Cameron’s family our prayers and condolences.


Holly Kirby Appointed to Court Of Appeals

Holly Kirby was the first woman in Tennessee to be appointed to the Court of Appeals. In 2014, Governor Bill Haslam appointed Kirby to sit on the Tennessee State Supreme Court, the fourth woman to sit on that high court. Justice Kirby has been chosen by her colleagues to serve as chief justice of the Tennessee State Supreme Court for the new term. The newest justice of the state supreme court is Dwight Tarwater of Knoxville.