Next year's leadership race is on. Here's one citizen's wish list for new Knoxville "live, work, and play" priorities in 2011 and beyond:
• New respect for Knoxville taxpayers and property owners in pursuit of targeted economic development and future community solutions. City leaders should not delegate critical priorities to less capable entities (i.e. Chamber, CBID, TYP, etc.), should only offer Housing First resources to proven, successful supportive housing initiatives (Helen Ross McNabb), and a new, creative mayor should be the champion of the South Knox waterfront development and, as our economy turns around, prioritize and connect all of Knoxville's assets and pedestrian, taxpayer, conventioneer, and tourist interests.
• New respect for Knoxville's creative class and regional entrepreneurs as we spotlight and leverage our considerable arts, high-tech, and small-business communities to dramatically boost our city's image and identity, our citizens' positive career opportunities, our real estate values, and our tax base for future city growth.
• New, creative solutions with Knox County's leadership, including, but not limited to, greater public/private educational resources and outcomes, the ideal downtown library/children's discovery center solution, a much-needed Safety Center, expanded greenway connections in East and North Knoxville, major arts festival sponsorships, and targeted economic development with existing brownfields and underutilized public buildings and spaces.
• New, creative solutions for those who suffer the most by their own hand and at the hand of others. Real, long-term solutions that take the chronic and transient homeless populations off our pedestrian streets and into programs, that work for everyone concerned, and/or returned to those who care most for them.
• New, rebranded, and marketable Knoxville that leverages low taxes, a great quality-of-life, arts and cultural assets, and low-overhead business opportunities should be our top priority once we have a great number of taxpayers, citizens, and business owners mobilized and motivated to help sell Knoxville to the world like never before.
I'm sure that we will have a historic election next year with our first female mayor. Let's hope that such a historic change becomes the historic opportunity to really take "live, work, and play" to the next level with a diverse group of citizens that can make great things happen.