May 2 2018
06:33 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

So, to recap: Knox Co. Republicans nominated a wrestler for mayor, Democrats cast votes for a woman who dropped out of the race and a woman who said she didn't know what the job involved and oh by the way is out on bail facing felony charges in California, and a school board seat was purchased by outside special interests with the help of the local paper.

OK, then.

R. Neal's picture

Also note that Jacobs hasn't

Also note that Jacobs hasn't won yet. He still has to get past Linda Haney in the general election.

All the Democratic primary votes plus the Bob Thomas votes could beat him. Something like that is quite a stretch, but anything's possible.

jbr's picture

225,000 potential votes in

225,000 potential votes in Knox county beyond the 15,000 Jacobs got.

HIShirtGuy's picture

SNAFU 2018!

The voters stayed home as there, as pointed out here by Mr. Neal, was not anything close to any "good" candidates in either/any party for Knox County Mayor (and most races) during this election cycle...

"Good" being considered as the minimal standards for experience, ethics, leadership, expertise, understanding of public administration, law, and the US Constitution while being an advocate for the freedoms, traditions, and diversity of our community and country. This Knox County Mayor election was a wash.
Neither/any party this time around had any outstanding candidates for this top position.

Jacobs will be the "GOP" candidate and he will take the office, statistically speaking in the fall. However, he is no where close of being a conservative, libertarian, or Republican or whatever he is this week. Who knows what really he is and that is scary for all of us. Many years ago I wrote a piece for the Metro Pulse...stating that Knoxville's (MSA / East Tennessee) stating that the established "one-party" political party of the community is the Bureaucracy / Status Quo party. {Yawn}. I think we will be seeing the same lack-luster trend here continue.

I would like to see the Democrat, Republican, and Conservatives/Libertarians, etc. field GREAT candidates that are proven; just as much to get rid of those "non-party affiliatons" elections of the Knox County School Board, City of Knoxville, and Republic of Farragut. The result would be better
voter turnout and candidates for all; due to having clear distinctions and understandings of what value that will be brought to the citizens per their personal platforms/politically affiliations.

I voted for my deceased dog as a write in candidate for Knox County Mayor as my vote of "no-confidence" among this 2018 field of lackluster Mayoral candidates. Now "buckle up" and put on the "muck boots" Knox County, as the next 4 years are going to be SSDD.

Bill Cleusman's picture

Obviously, many of the

Obviously, many of the choices were not very qualified. However, citizens have a responsibility to vote for the best candidate. The majority of eligible voters sit on their asses and do not vote. Non-voters deserve much of the blame for giving us a baffoon for a President! We will never recover from that terrible mistake. In yesterday's election,good to see voters made the right decision choosing a new sheriff and rejecting a former County Commissioner. The selection of Witt and Mcbride were good choices. It is a shame that Haslam & Company were able to defeat an outstanding member of the Board of Education. No doubt the Haslam folks will continue to try to take us back to the McIntyre type of BOE. Both political parties share the blame in not doing a better job of recruiting qualified candidates.

Bill Cleusman's picture

It does not make sense to

It does not make sense to have partisan elections in most local elections. The issues that the County Commission address are not partisan issues. Ask Mark Harmon, who is a staunch Democrat and served on County Commission. I think he or anybody else that is honest and looks at it objectively would agree that most local elections should be non-partisan. It is great that BOE elections are non-partisan. We do need better qualified candidates for all elected offices. Making the elections non-partisan would improve the quality of candidates that seek election.

HIShirtGuy's picture

Agree with Most

Hello Bill C. -

You made some good points for the community. Thank you. There were a few good candidates and many of them were elected. I agree on Sherry too. I can tell you from first had experience you ae right per most folks sitting on their butts when it comes to your community. Very few people have ever picked up a petition and even went through the election process or worked in government/politics/elections.

All politics is local...per se. Local elections are the minor leagues / farm teams for those who advance to "higher office" ---where they can cause the most damage to us - the citizens --- are committed at the state and federal levels....where lobbying is also extreme and awful...etc.

It is important to know, vet, etc. candidates and local officials early on in their political careers and they should not hide their beliefs/platforms whatever they are. Citizens would be able to manage expectations and manage their elected officials...and very few would be come fed-up with their candidates when they move on to hight positions in the community, state, or federal government(s).

Watching Harmon and Lambert on the commission, it was obvious what their affiliations were...just like Rogero as City Mayor. Haslam, and many others in indepedent elected positions seem to straddle between mutliple pphilosophies as it depends on the wind conditions of the moment or personal agenda (which is common of course).

Likewise, I vetted all the Knox County Mayoral Candidates early on...and none of them are qualifed for the job in my opinion. Then again based on my experience in Knoxvegas, it seems here in this community that being qualified is not a requirement often considered for executive leadership. I think we can agree, we as a community, get what we deserve when the options (candidates) are less than desired. Lack of citizen participation is very deterimental to our great Republic. But, that is what is great about our Country, any man or woman can participate as adult with very few exclusions...and as we have seen twice locally this year, some offices do come down to a few votes. No matter what your political affilication/beliefs are, getting involved is key.

Thank you sir again for your feedback and good points. Have a good day.

fischbobber's picture


I've known Linda Haney for a few years through various Democratic functions. She's qualified, bright, able, smart, informed and knows her way around the issues far better than any other candidate running for mayor, Democrat or Republican. She has a clear view of what the office takes and a realistic view of government in general. I find it bothersome that because she does not put on a freak show for the citizens she is not given her due. She was the best candidate to begin with, and she's the best candidate now.

Bill Cleusman's picture

I commend anybody that throws

I commend anybody that throws their hat into the ring for political office. I know it can be thankless. I also think the Democrats would be wise to recruit good candidates for every single office. Democratic Party recruiting in Knox County has been very poor in recent years. Many times Republicans run unchallenged. They should make the Republicans spread their resources to increase the chances of Democrats being elected. But the reality in Knox County is that a Democrat cannot now win a county wide office. It will probably be a long time before Dems can compete county wide. Democrats should do everything they can to challenge Republicans regardless, however, this time around, the Republican mayoral nominee will win easily.

Treehouse's picture


Thanks for making the same old arguments that have been made for years and do not improve the situation. The Democrats ran a lot more candidates this time and it showed in voter turnout. Things are getting better so don't be so discouraging. Linda Haney can win if she gets enough support. Please put your money where your mouth is.

Bill Cleusman's picture

Your argument is very weak.

Your argument is very weak. Hell, a Democrat could win the governor's race if they get enough support. It aint going to happen. The Republicans dominate the state legislature, the statewide elected offices, Knox County, and Trump won the state by a wide margin.I am not saying give up, but you have to be realistic. Democrats are never going to make any kind of significant gains in Tennessee or in the South unless they emphasize economic issues over other issues that turn working class voters into misguided Trump supporters. The problem with many so called progressives is they have good idealistic political positions but they are not realistic. Also, as much as they preach about social equality and helping their neighbor, many of them simply hate people that disagree. Their unrealistic perfect is an enemy of the good. If they cannot have everything their way, they do not have enough character to compromise for the common good. For some,it is all or nothing. That kind of mentality gave us a baffoon named Donald Trump! Democracy is about compromise.Things are not getting better any time soon.

Rachel's picture

I doubt that the "Haslam" $$$

I doubt that the "Haslam" $$$ made much difference in the Kristi/Rountree race. I live south and I sure didn't see it being spent that much. And the margin was too big for that to have been the only factor.

I'm not advocating for either candidate, but please remember that Rountree got a lot of $$$ from Steve Hunley.

Lots of ick to go around.

R. Neal's picture

Maybe the money was just a

Maybe the money was just a message, or a signal. Anyway, what is their intent? Punishment For going against Haslam? Technology or construction contracts for Friends of Bill? A beholden, malleable vote for any of that or charter schools or outsourcing run by Friends of Bill? Guess we'll see. I hope for the best, but expect the worst.

Bill Cleusman's picture

It is hard to believe that a

It is hard to believe that a reasonable person like you does not think the Haslams have an influence on BOE races. It could be that your viewpoint is biased because of your dislike of Ms. Roundtree. I do not know. But it appears you are not being as objective as you have been.

Rachel's picture

Dude. You'd be pretty

Dude. You'd be pretty surprised if you looked at all the candidates Haslam has given $$ to. It's not just the ones you would think. Kristy was hardly the first. And Rountree getting Steve Hunley $$$ ain't good either.

My second point was that I live in the district and I didn't see all that much Kristy %% being spent here. Maybe I missed it.

You seem to be questioning my objectivity simply because I disagree with you. (As for "disliking" Rountree, I wasn't a big fan of either candidate.)

Bill Cleusman's picture

I do pull up the reports from

I do pull up the reports from the Election Commission. Easy to see that the Haslams do throw their weight around! I question your objectivity on this situation because you ignore the facts. I agree with many of your posts, just not on this matter. Nothing personal. I like people that get involved and try to effect change, even if I disagree. People that do not vote, and voices that are not heard are responsible for much of what is wrong in our country today.

R. Neal's picture

Flashback: The Tao of Kane

Flashback: The Tao of Kane (a/k/a County Mayor candidate Glenn Jacobs)


Up Goose Creek's picture

Kristi mailers

I doubt that the "Haslam" $$$ made much difference in the Kristi/Rountree race. I live south and I sure didn't see it being spent that much.

I'd be curious who's running Kristi's mailing list and why it's uneven. Because I picked up mail from April 11-30 and there were 6 mailings from Kristi and one from Rountree.

Rachel's picture

I got one Kristy mailer and

I got one Kristy mailer and several from Rountree. So, yeah.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

My two cents

I think Brad lost his mayoral race primarily because he managed three CC terms totaling 10 years after the time term limits capping service on CC at 8 years was ostensibly a matter of settled law. Too many voters viewed this as dishonest on his part.

Similarly, I think Amber lost her school board seat primarily over her vote (in lockstep with all other Hunley-backed new members on the board) to spend $65 million to fund those two new middle schools contrary to the key findings of that board's $75,000 Middle School Demand Analysis, which determined no new middle schools were required due to an anticipated DROP in system wide enrollment by 2024. Too many voters viewed this as both dishonest AND extremely wasteful with their money.

Lisa Starbuck's picture


Interesting how some people put faith a "study" to prove their point about the middle schools (when both schools are going to be opening near or at capacity, so much for not being needed), but don't believe the study that said that Project Grad and the magnet school programs aren't effective.

In my opinion, the Project Grad/magnet school vote is what rocked the school board vote in the 9th district, along with Justice Knox's Nehemiah Action, where I understand dozens of phone bankers were recruited to call against Amber. There was also a get out the vote action to vote against Amber because of the Project Grad/magnet school vote.

Rachel's picture

Not so sure about that.

Not so sure about that. Kristy's margin over Rountree on election day was pretty much the same as in early voting. If the results were mainly due to magnets/project grad, we should have seen a wider margin on election day.

I live in the 9th district and I have no idea who or what Justice Knox's Nehemiah Action is. Info, please?

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Nehemiah Action

It is a "justice-seeking" organization with a confrontational style that organizes religious congregations to force political action from local officials. Mayor Rogero was attacked at their April 30th gathering and left saying that she didn't like the process.

A lot of the same people who organized the 2 busloads of people to come to the school board meeting (that was right before early voting started) to protest the Project Grad/magnet school vote are supposedly involved. I don't know that for a fact, just heard from another source. I do know there were people stirring the pot trying to say that these programs were being eliminated because of the new middle schools in "white" areas in an effort to increase racial tensions.

I know about the early voting numbers and I don't think it was a coincidence that the school board controversial budget discussions and vote happened during the election. Amber's position was well-known before early voting started.

Rachel's picture

I don't think Rountree lost

I don't think Rountree lost because of the project/grad thing. If her position on that was "well-known" before early voting, how come so many of my friends on FB expressed shock over her vote?

BTW, I'm not shilling for Kristy here. I didn't really like either candidate all that much.

Thanks for the info I asked for.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Project Grad Vote

I think the people who came to the school board meeting were aware from the discussion how she was likely to vote. And they did mobilize against her.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Lisa, I believe everyone is aware that two new middle schools are opening "at or near capacity" due to rezoning. HVA also opened "near capacity" after robbing Karns High of 963 students and leaving it standing half empty. Even now, ten years later.

Sometimes you "fiscal conservatives" blow my mind.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I might have added that voters' perception that Trammel was dishonest cost him the Sheriff race, too.

I suspect this low-turnout primary was decided by just the "true ones" among voters--and that they brought some institutional memory to the polling place.

danandrews's picture

DON'T blame me.....

Look at the numbers. When I worked for Hunley...he won! Now look at his record. Simply put, I was way undervalued.

Steve can spend as much as he this past election shows, without me, he simply can't win.

Plain and simple...

Why say more, I think his record says it all....

Up Goose Creek's picture


Kristy had a very good copywriter for her multiple mailings. To read them you'd think she hung the moon.

I don't get the animosity to Steve Hunley. I'm of the opinion his newspaper was instrumental in Rogero's first election. It seemed every week there was a new front page article festuring her.

Bbeanster's picture

The further south you go in

The further south you go in Amber's soon-to-be-former district, the less they care about Project Grad and magnet schools. It's just not an issue outside the close-in urban neighborhoods. In fact, they were actively hostile to the kids of color who were bused in from East Knoxville.

The bulk of the South Knox electorate is deep, deep red. I'd invite you to look at Eddie Smith's vote totals and where he ran up big margins if you need that point illustrated. There was a reason Kristi Kristy (Lordy, I love that name. It's better than Betty Bean) pointedly advertised herself as a Republican.

So I'm with Rachel, although maybe for very different reasons. A bunch of leftists denouncing Amber's budget vote would probably have resulted in giving her a boost.

Lisa Starbuck's picture


I agree that advertising her as a Republican in this non-partisan race had something to do with it. I think it was a combination of many things, including Kristy's support from former 9th District school board members.

Bbeanster's picture

Haven't researched it myself,

Haven't researched it myself, but a trusted source tells me that kids who live inside the Halls Middle School parental responsibility zone are going to be bused to Gibbs.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Middle School Zones

Here's a link to the 2018-2019 Middle School Zones

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Neither current school zone lines nor current school populations are really relevant in making a determination of whether this $65 million was well spent. If you'll recall, the 2014 Middle School Demand Analysis for which the BOE spent $75K took a long view, estimating how system wide enrollment would look ten years out.

Relative to 2014 numbers, that study predicted a spike in system wide enrollment five years out, at 2019, and LOWER systemwide enrollment by ten years out, at 2024.

The point Lisa hasn't defended is why the necessity of this long term solution to the population spike, namely a $65 million 20-year bond issue, to address what the study indicates is a short term problem that will correct itself at little or no cost.

There are a couple of other nagging questions she hasn't addressed either, of course.

One such question is how and when she became a pro-development advocate for East Knox County on the heels of her very public decade-long history of railing against it.

Another such question is how it is she thinks gutting the budget for Project Grad somehow fixes the issues that program was designed to fix. She fails to suggest what better program should be put into place to fix those issues--and I'm hardly the only onlooker to have noticed the oversight.

Really, there's one more nagging question she should answer: why did she put the word "white" in quotation marks up there, as if it weren't so, when she referred to the demographic of the Gibbs community? It is "white." At 94% "white," Gibbs Elementary is the whitest elementary school in the county.

I'd like to add that I very much appreciate many of the contributions Amber Rountree made to the BOE. I do think, however, that there's blowback up the pike for other seated BOE members over this $65 million issue.

Just two of nine school board districts were pleased to see the county take on this debt for these projects. The other seven districts were enraged.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Schools Advocate

I have been an advocate for schools for a long time, so this is nothing new. In case you weren't aware, Tamara, I helped Carter get a new school and I advocated for Gibbs to get a new school and I'm going to help Adrian Burnett get a new school. THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE WANT IN THEIR COMMUNITY. In fact, the best possible economic development tool we could have in Knox County is to gain a reputation for having new schools, the best technology, best teachers, etc. and if this means raising taxes, I'm for it.

Saying that the problem will correct itself in 10 years doesn't do anything to address long bus rides for children today or ten years for now. In hindsight, both MPC and school system projections have been wrong for years and I don't have much faith in their new ones either.

I have never said I was opposed to Project Grad. What I did object to was picking one study funded by the school system that happens to agree with what you think and saying it was correct, then saying another study funded by the school system where you don't like the result is wrong. Also, I objected to people implying that the reason these programs were being unfunded was because of the new schools, which is not true.

I have long been an advocate for the community schools program and spent two days in Cincinnati with school board members and school system personnel a few years ago learning about the program in order to bring it to Knox County. The community schools program has been very successful in Knox County and I believe we should expand it further. It does provide some of the same supports as Project Grad and could be expanded with even more services.

I don't believe there is "blowback up the pike" for other board members because I think many people agreed that the new schools were needed. If you go back and look at the timeframe when the HVA and Gibbs Middle schools were being looked at by the school board, there were hundreds of comments and emails from people OUTSIDE of Gibbs and Hardin Valley saying they thought Gibbs especially deserved a new school because of the bussing situation. We didn't see any blowback in the 7th district, where Patti Bounds did not have an opponent and she was a vote for the new schools.

I put "white" in quotes because that was the way it was characterized by some people who want to make it a black vs. white issue, but that certainly doesn't define the Gibbs community, any more than it defines Hardin Valley, Halls or Carter and that is NOT why they got a new school. It is because there was a real need to avoid children having to be bussed for long distances because there was no school in their community. The rezoning has relieved overcrowding at Halls Middle and has made it so that many other children are not being bussed out of their community to South Doyle and Carter. That is the one common theme I heard at all the rezoning meetings - people wanted their children to go to schools close to their homes.

We have disagreed about this before and I don't think either of us is going to change our mind. So we can agree to disagree or you can argue with yourself about it.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

I didn't address what you

I didn't address what you mistakenly said was my read on Project Grad: No, I did not disagree with the school system's study citing inadequate results from the program. What I said is that cutting funding for the program but neglecting to fund something in its place isn't going to produce the desired results, either.

I think BOE members who did that may well pay at the polls for their oversight.

You are trying to gloss over all these particulars but they're nuanced issues, all.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Don't be a kneejerk, Lisa. The issue isn't whether or not the school system needs new schools, it's determining which problems can be addressed *only* with new facilities and, among those that require new facilities, in what order we should address them.

WRT Carter Elementary, what the data told us is that although they needed a new school, 17 other elementary schools system wide were older than that one and/or had received improvements longer ago than that one, hence these other schools were the more pressing priorities.

WRT Gibbs Middle, what the data told us is that the community would not require any facility *at all* prior to 2024 and that furthermore system wide enrollment would drop over that period. The bussing issue, it pointed out, might be addressed through rezoning.

You nevertheless supported both of these projects in the costliest manner possible, the first out-of-sequence and the second altogether without recommendation.

The issue here is good stewardship over scarce capital funding revenues, based on what our best data tell us is (or is not) required in the way of spending. You and this team of yours have twice ignored that data. I think people noticed that and will remember it with disdain.

And I think BOE members who most recently voted for Gibbs Middle will pay a cost.

JenOwen's picture


It seems that some either don't recall or don't care to recall who was actually on the BOE when the middle school proposal was presented. It certainly wasn't any of the "new" BOE members. And those "yes" votes who have run again, with the exception of Rountree, have all done so without opposition.


"Upon roll call vote on amended motion to approve the MOU:
Gloria Deathridge - No
Tracie Sanger - No
Doug Harris - Yes
Lynne Fugate - No
Karen Carson - Yes
Terry Hill - Yes
Patti Bounds - Yes
Mike McMillan - Yes
Amber Rountree - Yes
Vote: 6-3, Passed."

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I was not referring to you, Jen, in my reference up there to "new" board members to have voted "yes" on that cap plan/MOU. I certainly do realize you were not then on the BOE. The first-term ("new") board members I referenced were Hill, Bounds, and Rountree.

And yes, as you observe, Hill and Bounds are recently running for a second term unopposed.

Since the Hardin Valley vote comprises 40% of the Sixth District vote, and since I'm sure HV was quite content with Hill's vote on the cap plan/MOU, I expect will would win a second term even if she had competition. That Bounds is running unopposed tells us nothing, really, since just everyone discontented with Bounds' vote can't personally run for election in order to express it. Only in the Rountree/Kristy race could we onlookers offer any conjecture.

Hence I offered mine, namely that these first-time ("new") board members were too little informed on facilities capacity matters and, sadly,were also compromised by Hunley's endorsement and purported support.

I suppose we'll have to wait and see how other races with opposition play out to determine if my conjecture is right.

Of course, we'll also have to wait until 2024 to see if KCS really needed to spend $65 million on two new middle schools or whether the data they paid for was correct in its projection that systemwide middle school population will drop, not rise.

I'll wait.

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