Republican Jeff Ownby came out of nowhere to defeat heretofore-thought-popular Democrat Finbarr Saunders in the Bearden-area 4th District of County Commission. Ownby no doubt benefited from the coattails of overwhelming Republican votes for gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam. It was the most surprising result in local elections. Saunders is a longtime community leader with a lot of Republican friends who gave the Democrats a seat outside Democratic strongholds in the 1st and 2nd Districts.
But Ownby made a clear statement in his mailers that he opposes the Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness that features supportive housing across the city for the chronically homeless in a variety of neighborhoods, rather than concentrated in downtown. Some see that as the margin of victory for Ownby and wonder how it will play in the upcoming council and mayoral races in Knoxville. The plan needs full support by City Council and the city’s next mayor to succeed.