Metro Pulse Endorsements Redux: 2011 Elections

For Mayor: Madeline Rogero

Metro Pulse endorsed Madeline Rogero for mayor before the Sept. 27 primary, and we are happy to do so again for the Nov. 8 general election. If anything, the increasingly ridiculous attacks by her opponent, Mark Padgett, have made us even more certain that she is by far the better candidate in the race. But rather than merely rerun our previous endorsement, we thought it might be helpful to visually compare the two candidates' records and experience.

MADELINE ROGERO (born 1952)

1974-77: Quits college to work for the United Farm Workers, organizing and monitoring working conditions for agricultural laborers.

1979: Earns bachelor's degree in political science from Furman University in Greenville, S.C.

1985-86: While working on a master's degree in planning at the University of Tennessee, is a team leader for a Chamber of Commerce project to develop a strategic plan for local economic development.

1987: Earns master's degree in planning from UT.

1987-88: Works as regional planner under contract to TVA.

1988-90: Executive director of the Coal Employment Project, a national nonprofit group representing female coal miners, with 12 state chapters.

1990-98: Knox County commissioner, representing the 2nd District in North Knoxville. When she decides not to seek a third term, then-News Sentinel managing editor Frank Cagle writes, "Whether you agree with her politics or not, you have to concede that her departure will mean a double-digit drop in the average IQ level on County Commission."

1990-94: Consultant in economic and community development for myriad local boards and agencies.

1994-98: Founding executive director of the Community Partnership Center at the University of Tennessee, linking rural and urban community leaders with faculty and student resources.

1998-99: Executive director of the Dollywood Foundation, Dolly Parton's charitable organization, including the Imagination Library (which provides free books to local children under the age of 6).

1999-2003: Recruited by a coalition of local foundations to be the founding executive director of Knoxville's Promise, the local affiliate of Colin Powell's America's Promise foundation to support mentoring, health, and education programs for young people.

2003: Runs for mayor against Bill Haslam, narrowly losing despite being heavily outspent.

2003-07: Works as a consultant on planning, policy, leadership development, and community collaborations for corporate and nonprofit clients, including Capital One Financial Corp., the East Tennessee Community Design Center, and the Council of Involved Neighborhoods.

2007-2011: Is chosen by Mayor Bill Haslam as director of Community Development, a department that had been criticized for mismanagement under its previous director. In hiring Rogero, Haslam says, "I'm thrilled that Madeline is joining our team, she brings great strengths to this job. Madeline knows the issues well and she is sensitive to the needs of our community."

2011: In her campaign for mayor, Rogero is endorsed by Haslam's two chief mayoral advisers, Bill Lyons and Larry Martin. "She is very effective in knowing when to make a decision," Lyons tells the News Sentinel. "She does not want to rush into it without adequate information, but she also knows when it's time to pull the trigger."

Rogero has also served on the boards of the Partnership for Neighborhood Improvement, the Knoxville Transportation Authority, Leadership Knoxville, and the Alcoa Foundation Community Advisory Board, among other organizations.

MARK PADGETT (Born 1978)

2000: Earns bachelor's degree in biology from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate.

2002: Earns master's degree in business administration from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate.

2002: Works as a Knox County coordinator for Phil Bredesen's gubernatorial campaign. After Bredesen's election, is hired to work in the new governor's administration as part of a group streamlining government services.

2005: Leaves government to co-found a company (initially called CP Liberty) to sell software and online services to local governments. His first "client" is his father, longtime Knox County Clerk Mike Padgett. Initially, Mark Padgett promises to provide services to his father's office free for one year, in exchange for being able to test his products. But when News Sentinel articles raise questions about the father-son arrangement, other county officials object. Mike Padgett terminates the contract after County Mayor Mike Ragsdale tells him it violates county purchasing rules against conflicts of interest.

2006-10: Padgett reincorporates as eGovernment Solutions, and wins contracts with a handful of other counties to provide services like online vehicle tag renewal. (Knox County is not one of them. In 2008, Padgett's system loses out in a competitive bidding process when his father's successor, Foster Arnett, chooses the larger company Business Information Systems.) His company does not turn a profit during this time.

2011: Padgett runs for mayor on a platform of business experience and job creation, but is for months evasive about the size of his company. Under media pressure, he finally says that he has five full-time employees. He has refused all media requests to actually see the company's office, currently housed in the basement of his campaign headquarters storefront on Gay Street.

Padgett has also served on the Boys & Girls Club Advisory Board, but came under fire from the agency's officials earlier this year for having boys and girls from the club march in a parade carrying his campaign signs. "It blows my mind that he used us," the organization's CEO, John D. Lee, tells the News Sentinel.

(Also, just for fun, if you're still undecided on which candidate to vote for, here's a handy flow chart to help you choose.)

In other elections:

CITY COUNCIL

Metro Pulse has previously made endorsements in the at-large City Council races.

City Council Seat A: George Wallace

City Council Seat B: Marshall Stair

City Council Seat C: Finbarr Saunders

We also note without prejudice Mark Campen, who is unopposed in the race for the 5th District Council seat. We hope he will be an able successor in the district to former Vice Mayor Bob Becker, who stepped down earlier this year, and Charlie Thomas, who has served in the interim position with distinction.

STATE SENATE

We are happy to endorse Gloria Johnson in the special election to fill the 6th District state Senate seat. We recognize that she faces long odds in a heavily Republican district against Becky Duncan Massey. But Johnson, a Knox County special education teacher, is the superior candidate. She demonstrates a keen knowledge of the issues facing the state, and an indignation that we share over the most recent clown-show of a legislative session, with its endless wedge issues and embarrassing national headlines.


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