District Council Members Should Be Elected By Their District. . . Not Citywide!
In his blog, “Comments from the Councilman,” City Councilman Andrew Roberto opposes the legislation sponsored by state Senator Richard Briggs that would eliminate district council races from being run citywide. Briggs needs to amend his bill so that instead, the residents of the six city council districts would actually vote for the person they wish to represent them. Imagine that! Yet Roberto says the Briggs Bill would “strip Knoxville voter rights,” which of course it does not. The Knoxville City Council presently has three members who are elected at-large, meaning they run citywide. The other six districts are supposed to be exactly that – – – districts. Yet for decades the district chooses two people in a primary who then head into a runoff citywide. Do you think Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn would be the U.S. senators from Tennessee if the voters in New York State and California were allowed to vote with us?
Should the ten members of Congress from Tennessee be elected at large after a primary inside their respective districts? Should all 100 U.S. senators be elected nationwide after winning a primary in their respective states? Of course, not and the notion is just plain silly. Nobody is losing a vote for anything; voters will still be able to vote for the mayor and the three at-large members of the city council every four years. Other districts just don’t get to choose the representative of a district they don’t live in, just like Knoxvillians don’t get to pick the mayor of Memphis because we don’t live there. By Roberto’s logic why shouldn’t the mayors of Tennessee’s four big cities – – – Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga – – – all be picked by ALL Tennessee voters at-large? Something tells me Andrew wouldn’t like that idea much either.
There is a very good reason why districts should be represented by the choice of the people living inside that district. Running a district race, then having to run citywide where the choice of the district is overturned by people who don’t live in the district is entirely contrary to the American form of government. Representatives should be elected by the people they represent.
Roberto says the present system needs to be continued because it encourages “collaboration” with the other members of the city council. The reason the other council people don’t like Amelia Parker is because she isn’t a sure vote to go along with whatever Mayor Kincannon wants to do. I can’t remember when the last time Andrew Roberto or any of his fellow collaborators dissented from whatever The Great Incompetent wanted to do. The members of council ought to be asking more questions, not sitting there like bumps on a log or only opening their mouths to praise Kincannon.
No one of any gender or race is entitled to a seat on city council or any other elective office. The voters decide that themselves and the fundamental premise of having districts is that they are represented by a person elected from that district BY that district. Just because we’ve been doing it this way for 54 years doesn’t make it a good idea.
Nobody is being stripped of anything unless it is the folks in Sequoyah Hills not being able to select the council person for Burlington. Now, according to Andrew Roberto, that’s a prime example of democracy in action. Not hardly!
Brooks Kicks Off Campaign
Speaking of city council, Cameron Brooks, a former member of the Knox County Election Commission, opened his campaign for an at-large seat on the council last week. Brooks is running a full-blown campaign and has been busy for the last few weeks walking through neighborhoods and knocking on doors.
Brooks drew a good crowd to a campaign opener at the Beck Cultural Center with a healthy mix of Democrats and Republicans, which is a good sign in a nonpartisan race.
Cameron Brooks is by vocation a realtor and has a healthy dose of respect for homeowners’ rights, so it isn’t surprising he would advocate for neighborhoods. Brooks told the audience he will NOT vote to increase any taxes during his four-year term as a member of the city council if elected. Brooks also promises he will be a voice for working people and working families. That has certainly been a voice that has been sorely missing on the city council, especially after the city government raised property taxes by 40%.
Brooks is campaigning for the seat held now by Lynne Fugate.
Rents in Knoxville have grown faster than anywhere else in the country, at least according to the National Association of Realtors. The rate of rent growth for 2022 was 9.6%. Knoxville is the 11th highest city in the nation for inbound migration. Folks are pouring in from Nashville, Atlanta, and Charlotte, North Carolina. 40% of homebuyers were looking to purchase homes outside Knox County. According to statistics, household income needed to be $90,331 annually to be able to afford a median-priced home in Knoxville and Knox County.
Yet Mayor Indya Kincannon and the city council raised the local property tax 40%, which has caused rents and mortgages to rise. Some 54% of people living in the City of Knoxville are renters.