One of the big developments recently was the announcement the Tennessee General Assembly’s redistricting committee has already approved a redistricting plan. The plan makes some interesting changes in the legislative map, including here in Knox County. As was speculated in The Focus earlier this year, state Representatives Gloria Johnson and Sam McKenzie have been placed in the same district. The lines have been redrawn and Knox County now has one district without an incumbent. I’ve yet to see specifically what precincts have been moved, but that will become readily apparent very quickly.
Johnson and McKenzie are hardly the only Democratic incumbents moved into the same district together. There are, I think, seven incumbents placed in the same districts in Nashville and Davidson County. The biggest population growth in Tennessee has been in Middle Tennessee and that grand division will have increased representation while both East and West Tennessee lose a seat. Four Republican incumbents have also been placed in the same district.
It remains to be seen whether Johnson and McKenzie will actually run against one another. If they do, look for Gloria Johnson to have the upper hand in any political tussle irrespective of the racial composition of the district. McKenzie is a freshman legislator and just barely scraped by, defeating far-left candidate Matthew Park. Park and McKenzie were both running against incumbent Rick Staples. Johnson can raise more money and is better organized than McKenzie. Unlike McKenzie, Johnson understands the importance of social media, has the ability to raise the necessary money to run a good campaign, and has been good at attracting attention to herself. Johnson had issued the threat if the Republicans placed her in the same district with Sam McKenzie, she would move to West Knoxville and run against State Representative Eddie Mannis. Considering the General Assembly likely made Mannis’s district even more Republican, that seems like more of an idle threat than a reality. Johnson, if she chooses to run against McKenzie, could remain in the legislature likely as long as she chooses. A contest against Mannis would be doubtful, if not actually uphill from the beginning.
Partisan Elections for Board of Education
Fully one-third of the Knox County Board of Education is not running again next year. Evetty Satterfield, who has served a single term, announced last week she would not seek reelection in 2022. Satterfield said it had nothing to do with the Tennessee General Assembly changing the law and making school board races partisan. Incumbents Patti Bounds and Virginia Babb have already announced their own decisions to not run again for seats on the board. Bounds lost a race for the Tennessee House of Representatives in the Republican primary in 2020 and Babb had originally declared she would run again as an Independent. Evidently, Babb thought better of it and decided to opt out. Betsy Henderson and Kristi Kristy are both running again as Republicans.
The board of education is engaged in the search for a new superintendent of schools in the wake of Bob Thomas’ announcement he will be retiring June 30, 2022. It now appears the new superintendent will be picked by a goodly number of folks who will be leaving office shortly after Thomas.
Judge Tim Irwin to Run for Another Term
In all the hoopla surrounding local politics, just about nobody has speculated about the plans of Judge Tim Irwin. Irwin is a former professional football player, favorite native son, and attorney who was elected judge of the Juvenile Court following the retirement of the late Carey Garrett. Irwin, notable for his imposing figure, has been an effective judge, meting out justice along with a firm commitment to children and families. Judge Irwin, never one for flamboyant announcements or the like, quietly has picked up a petition to seek another eight-year term. Tim Irwin has done a great job and will be running again next year.
David Buuck Makes a Great Hire
Knox County Law Director David Buuck hit a home run in his most recent hire. Buuck coaxed recently retired Chancellor Mike Moyers away from private practice to work as Senior Deputy Law Director. It is a full-circle journey for Moyers who began as a mere stripling assistant in the law director’s office many years ago. Moyers then won election as law director in his own right in a turbulent race against Mike Ruble, then as now a staff member in the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Ruble was the legal counsel for then-Sheriff Tim Hutchison and the candidate of a powerful political machine. Moyers demonstrated considerable strength by winning that election and not by a little bit either. Later, Mike Moyers was elected Chancellor, the highest court in Knox County. Moyers has a wealth of experience that can once again be put to use on behalf of the people of Knox County. It was a great hire!
Democrat Shipe Running for Commission
Vivian Shipe is running as a Democrat for commissioner at-large and recently announced a “listening tour” of the county. Evidently, that tour went all the way from Burlington to the next street over. Shipe has already pretty well advertised her platform with her signs and literature. One would think Shipe was running for the Knoxville City Council rather than an At-Large seat on the Knox County Commission. Democrats used to refer to Shipe as “Dr.” Vivian Shipe and that particular title has been missing as of late. Shipe is an advocate for affordable housing and proclaimed herself the ‘Voice of the Voiceless.”
Thank You, Readers and Advertisers
This is the last edition of The Knoxville Focus for 2021. As publisher, I am pleased to speak for everyone here at The Focus to thank our loyal readers and advertisers. We will continue to try to offer you local news and commentary that you won’t find anywhere else. Next year is an election year and there’ll be much to write about. More importantly, everyone here at The Knoxville Focus wishes you good health, happiness, and prosperity for the coming New Year! May God Bless you and your family.