Oct 11 2017
05:02 pm
By: B Harmon  shortURL

Candidates James Mackler, Lauren Rider rise above shiny object stories

Mackler last week was in Knoxville the same day that Gov. Bill Haslam announced he was not running for the Senate seat, and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn announced she was. All three local TV newscasts were reminded of this opportunity, but none supplemented their Senate seat stories with a Mackler interview. If any had shown at the Blue Dots meeting that night, they would have seen a crowd roaring approval when he contrasted himself to Blackburn, presenting himself as a “servant leader who is not a career politician.”

The shiny object syndrome also can be seen in Knoxville’s District 4 City Council race. Lauren Rider secured 43.51 percent of the primary vote in a five-way contest. Her 889 votes were the most for any candidate in any district. Our system puts the first- and second-place finishers in a citywide runoff, but that distant second-place spot featured a tie. City Council broke that tie, but voters should ignore that distraction and stick with the district’s choice.

Mike Cohen's picture

Council votes

So this would mean you are also encouraging voters citywide to vote for James Corcoran in the 3rd district since he took an even larger percentage of his district vote (47.6%) than Lauren Rider did in the 4th (43.5%).

The number two finisher/finshers in both districts were in the low to mid 20 percentage range.

M. L. Daugherty's picture

When a City Council candidate

When a City Council candidate wins his or her own district,they should represent that district on Council. Voters from other districts should not be allowed to select the person that represents a district other than their own. There is something about citywide voting for City Council that just stinks. It goes against the democratic spirit. However, you cannot change the rules in the middle of the game. This time, city voters should vote for the most experienced, qualified, and best candidates on the ballot.In both cases that were mentioned, it could be that the second place finisher in the primary is the most qualified to serve. Before the next City Council elections, however, changes should be made that gives Council seats to candidates that win in their own districts.Bearden or Fountain City voters should not be able to determine who represents East or Norhwest Knoxville on City Council. You make an excellent argument saying if Rider deserves the seat because of her winning 43.5% showing in the primary, then Corcoran has an even greater claim to the 3rd District seat. Maybe if Mark knew that you were going to make that comparison he would have emphasized more of Rider's qualifications and included those with her impressive primary number. Of course,I don't think you could convince Mark to encourage votes for Corcoran even if Corcoran had won 99% of the primary vote.I sure could not endorse him no matter the primary results.

Mike Cohen's picture


My point was that the logic used was flawed. I most certainly wasn't encouraging anybody to vote for or against any candidate.

I don't like the City election system and would prefer district members be elected solely by the district. But a similar system has been challenged in court and won.

That said, if a race is on a ballot a responsible voter should study the candidates and vote for who they feel is best. Never vote for somebody because somebody else did, even if it is the district. It's your vote and should be cast for the candidate you feel will do the best job for the city.

M. L. Daugherty's picture

I understood your point.

I understood your point. Sorry if you took my comment otherwise. I thought it was great we had so many good candidates in the primary for Council. I could not fault a person for voting for any of the candidates. I think whoever wins will do just fine. I suppose my comments indicated my partisan preference. I am glad Council elections are non-partisan. I wish all local elections were non-partisan. There are Republicans and Democrats that do a very good job in our local government. Party affiliation is not important in the decisions made on local issues. Citizens do have a right to expect that their vote counts and that their district voters can select a voice on Council and County Commission to represent their interests.

cafkia's picture

I could not possibly disagree

I could not possibly disagree more with M.L. Daugherty and I unfortunately have to disagree somewhat with Brother Harmon as well.

It is 20freaking17 and we still STILL have a Black district. That is a social wrong that seriously needs addressing. I do not have a problem with Gwen Mackenzie but I also know and do not have an issue with Jennifer Montgomery. Unfortunately, the only way we can ensure that there is a Black on City Council, and I really do not think we are past needing that, is to vote for Gwen or do the longshot write in for Amelia in the 4th.

I do not have a problem with Lauren but my vote this time around is not about competence, personality, or ability. We have an embarrassment of riches with a number of strong and smart women running. I have to vote in a way that respects the need to have at least one Black on the Council and I have to vote in a way that acknowledges the idiocy of there being a Black district in 2017.

I do hope my friends can understand but Mark got it exactly wrong. We do not need to let the districts determine the outcome. We need to do what is right for the city, what is in the best interest of long term social justice, regardless of what preferences the districts established in the primary.

M. L. Daugherty's picture

I wish both candidates in

I wish both candidates in that district could serve. Gwen and Jennifer are both impressive and either would serve the district well. But only one person can serve. I think given the makeup and history of the district, even with demographic changes recently, Gwen would likely win in the general election again if only 6th district voters were voting. The city needs representation from the black community. Given the gerrymandering of congressional and other voting districts to dilute the strength of blacks at the ballot box it seems fair to make an attempt at having a district that favors black representation. In a citywide election between Mackenzie and Montgomery, Montgomery has a great chance of winning.What is right for the city is to allow voters from each district to select the person they want to represent them from their own district and let other districts do the same for their own district. Rider had a strong campaign in the primary but she faces someone with strong name recognition citywide and a Democrat that is very qualified and will most likely get strong Republican support, especially in west Knoxville. A strong argument can be made for either candidate to win. No result will surprise me.

cafkia's picture

NO! The individual members of

NO! The individual members of the City Council (and the County Commission and the State Legislature and the Congress) vote on issues that affect the entire city. I think the current setup, while not perfect, is about the best compromise one might hope for. If only the districts determined their representation it would be much easier for an ill-intentioned group to get significant representation on the Council. Given normal turnout rates, it is even feasible that they could take over the Council. Our current system is weak sauce in preventing that but so far, no group has been organized and funded well enough to defeat it. Apparently that has made you far too comfortable and trusting. I am not so afflicted.

Rather than a Black person being expected to understand and represent the Black community,(believe me, the Black community is no monolithic structure with a set of experiences, needs, and goals that are common across the structure) what we need is to be able to believe that every Council member has the best interests of all the citizens of the city at heart. If we ought to have a Black district, then given the population of Hispanics in the city, we clearly need a Hispanic district. Of course, there are plenty of Asian-Americans living in Knoxville so, I suppose we will need an Asian district. Having attended the Ramadan feast at the Mill and Mine this year, I am made aware that there is a significant Arab and/or Muslim population in Knoxville, I guess there is going to have to be a district for them too. Or OR, we could take positive steps to remove longstanding stigma and ensure that a candidate's ethnic background was immaterial in determining their chance of winning in any given district. The path to that is in the doing. We need to be able to point to minority or ethnic candidate wins in multiple districts to be comfortable in ignoring that as a consideration. Right now we cannot.

Again, this is an issue that affects the entire city (and county and region and state and nation). The idea that only the districts should determine their representation is ludicrous and ignores the fact that there are larger issues in play and what is neutral/good for a given district may well be bad for the larger community. It truly amazes me that you have trouble understanding the obvious truth in that.

M. L. Daugherty's picture

Of course, black Americans

Of course, black Americans were not allowed to vote until the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870. Then literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clause etc. kept most blacks from voting for decades until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Even today many blacks are kept from voting by different types of voter suppression laws. Don't you think it is time for a little fairness? We have 435 congressional districts in the United States in 50 states and each representative is elected by voters in their district. Each state has 2 U.S. Senators elected by voters in their state. It takes a majority in both houses and the President's signature to pass laws that effect all of the 325 million or so Americans. According to your logic, all of the 235 million eligible voters should be able to vote in all of the 435 congressional district elections and for all U.S. Senators. You are wrong!

cafkia's picture

The unwieldyness of voting

The unwieldyness of voting for every Congresscritter is exactly why it makes sense to do it locally. I am fairly familiar with the travails of Blacks vis-a-vis the voting booth and other places. I know 6th district politicians. Whenever we have the opportunity to get past all of the crap of the past, I think we should. I also think we need to not pretend to be past it when we are not.

You are actively claiming that it would be best if people who do not even know any Black people have complete control over the local governmental representation of Blacks - except for the one that Blacks are generously given by dint of living where they are historically allowed to (/sarcasm). I've been Black for 62 years now. Good luck trying to make that sound like a good idea to me.

Treehouse's picture


Yes, it's time. But gerrymandering has taken away the right of voters to vote for their local representatives. And Citizens United has taken away the power from the people and given it to the corporations and the individually wealthy. And the Primary procedures and national parties have taken away the rights of voters to have candidates they can support. And the Electoral College takes away "one person, one vote." There's lots of unfairness in our electoral system. What are you doing to make it better? I think it's important for City Council representatives to realize they are there to support all the citizens of the city. And that includes minority districts, wherever they are located.

M. L. Daugherty's picture

What am I doing to make it

What am I doing to make it better? Not enough, but I don't sit on my ass and complain and then not vote. I vote because it is every citizen's responsibility. I volunteer and help candidates I think are qualified, I contribute money, I participate in protest gatherings/marches etc., and I encourage people, especially young folks, to participate in politics. I think City Council members should do what is best for the city, but also, just like members of Congress, they have a responsibility to bring attention and focus to local problems that are unique or of special concern to the area they represent.

cafkia's picture

Dude, I certainly think the

Dude, I certainly think the candidates ought to live in the district they represent and a time element to the residency requirement is not in the least unreasonable. I could even possibly support a test for general knowledge of the district. But in the end, they will vote on issues that affect the entire city and as such, I strongly support the current method of electing them. (with the exception of that funky tie thing)

Treehouse's picture


"What am I doing to make it better? Not enough, but I don't sit on my ass and complain and then not vote. I vote because it is every citizen's responsibility. I volunteer and help candidates I think are qualified, I contribute money, I participate in protest gatherings/marches etc., and I encourage people, especially young folks, to participate in politics."

Me too.

M. L. Daugherty's picture

We will have to agree to

We will have to agree to disagree. You have not made a convincing argument for citywide City Council elections. Your opposition to district only voting is very weak and not supported by facts. Citywide elections for Council are a bad idea and should end.

cafkia's picture

And you haven't made any

And you haven't made any arguments at all in opposition to citywide City Council elections. All you have done is state your opinion multiple times with nothing to say why. So yes, I will continue to disagree with you until you decide that I am right.

M. L. Daugherty's picture

I have enjoyed the argument.

I have enjoyed the argument. Having an open mind is good, however if a person is passionate about their beliefs, changing their mind should not be that easy. My mind has not changed. I am right and you are wrong on this issue. We probably can agree on many other political issues. I look forward to reading your comments on other topics and being in agreement on some. On this one, I hope that one day you will see the light and admit I am right. I am worn out on this topic and think I will leave it alone.

R. Neal's picture

I am staying out of this, but

I am staying out of this, but there are some good arguments either way.

One thing that stood out to me, though, is CAFKIA pointing out that there shouldn't be such a thing as "minority districts." I agree. What is this, 1950?

Rachel's picture

I agree with Steve about the

I agree with Steve about the current process. Having district candidates run citywide in the general forces them to be responsible to the entire City. Since that's who they make decisions for that seems like the right thing to do.

I also think it's important to have people of color on Council, as well as women (although at least we're assured of two of those this time 'round).

I wish I could share my endorsements here, but I can't. PM me if you want to know.

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