Metro Pulse sent the following questionnaire to all candidates for Knoxville City Council. Candidates' responses have not been edited in any way.
MARK CAMPEN, candidate for 5th District
Here are the questions and my answers*:
1.) The city of Knoxville holds less than half the population of Knox County, and an even smaller percentage of the total metropolitan area. Why does the city matter? What role does city leadership play in setting or shaping an agenda for the region?
The city and its developments build a strong tax base.
The city helps create jobs through new or growing businesses, job fairs and the Knoxville Chamber support.
The city needs to be more involved in supporting schools and should be more involved with the school system.
Infrastructure improvements, roads, bridges, sidewalks and more link the city to the greater Knoxville area.
Tourism dollars from the city greatly affect our entire region.
2.) Name three specific ways you would like the city of Knoxville to be different after your term(s) in office.
I have four:
I will support a cleaner city, specifically enforced regulations related to litter and water quality.
Crime reduction. I will do my best to engage neighborhood organizations and citizens to become more aware and proactive in identifying and taking action related to crime prevention.
More greenways and pedestrian friendly transportation, i.e., a better mass transit system, sidewalks and bike lanes.
Lastly, I will work hard to promote sustainable growth, “green” jobs and local businesses.
3.) About one out of three children in Knoxville lives near or below the poverty level. What specific things can or should the city government do to serve their needs?
After school programs. There are a number of community buildings under utilized. The city should support a community supported revamping of these facilities to help care for our children. Scholastic needs, sports and exercise and, yes, meals.
Poverty stricken children may be able to get involved with mentoring groups outside of broken homes with poor, suppressing environments.
4.) Do you support the goals of the Hillside and Ridge top Protection Plan? More broadly, how should the city balance long-term concerns about sustainability with short-term demands of developers or builders? What does "sustainable development" mean to you? What are some specific ways the city can encourage it? (If you don't think the city should encourage sustainable development, you can say that, too.)
Yes, I support the plan. (I served on the Task Force as a member and, further along in the process, as the Land Use subcommittee chair). The city should pass the plan. There were compromises made throughout the process and I see this as a long-term, conservation effort to conserve our beautiful landscape. This is not a tree-hugger issue or property rights issue, but an economic development issue since the majority of people like to work and live in areas that are attractive, such as Knoxville. Let’s think about attracting businesses, residences and quality of life.
(See attached letter sent to county commissioners before they voted it down.)
5.) What is the proper role of City Council in dealing with the mayor? Should Council members mostly let the mayor lead and react to the mayor’s initiatives, or should they take leadership roles themselves in setting the city’s agenda?
I think both when appropriate. The mayor has the lead, but there is no reason council members shouldn’t take the lead in dealing with a myriad of issues since they too are heavily involved in meeting and discussing city and neighborhood issues with its citizens.
6.) Is it a priority for you to make Knoxville a more "green" city? If so, name three specific ways you would pursue that goal.
Yes, this issue is very much a priority for me. As mentioned, I will promote enforcement and strengthening of our litter laws, recycling goals and, consider this, what about paying buy the pound the amount citizens send to the landfill vs. recycling?!
Enforcement and strengthening water pollution ordinances is very important, not just from me and, if elected, my position, but also new regulations coming down from EPA and TDEC. Look up MS4 and TMDL regulations to become more enlightened!
How about solar initiativesfor businesses and residences? If Mellow Mushroom, TVA and KUB are such strong advocates for solar power, why not get more solar cells on commercial and residential properties around Knoxville. We are after all a Solar America City! (http://solaramericacommunities.energy.gov/solaramericacities/)
7.) The University of Tennessee sits within city limits, but has often seemed like kind of an island, culturally and geographically. Are there any steps the city can take to more actively engage the University's leadership, faculty, and students in the daily life of the city? Do you think that’s important? Why or why not?
Yes, it’s important. The president could become an honorary member of council or just play an advisory role when dealing with UT-City of Knoxville initiatives or issues.
The Cumberland Avenue Streetscape Plan corridor development linking UT and downtown, the proposed Henley Street redevelopment plan and historic preservation on UT campus, and UT’s holdings come to mind.
Faculty and students involved with urban planning, landscaping, transportation and more would be appropriate beneficiaries of such involvement.
8.) Knoxville remains a difficult city to get around via any means other than automobile. Is it important to you for the city to become more accessible via public transportation, bicycle, or foot? Why or why not? If so, name three specific transportation-related programs or projects you would like to begin or expand on.
Yes, this issue is very important. Greenways, more bike lanes, sidewalksand a solid, on-time system of mass transit should be a priority for our city. This will help encourage a healthier, less polluting lifestyle.
The (Inskip) Healthy Kids Healthy Communities Safe Routes To Schools Program is encouraging. Let’s make it happen and replicate it elsewhere. (http://www.healthykidshealthycommunities.org/communities/knox-county-tn)
9.) Fifty years after the Civil Rights movement, Knoxville remains fairly segregated in terms of where people live, work, and play. What can or should City Council members do to encourage more communication and connection between races, communities, and neighborhoods?
If elected, I will promote more community district events like block parties, Neighborhood Watch (National) Night Out (more than once a year!), and other events to bring together nearby neighborhood organizations and citizens so we can get to know each other better and, hopefully, close the gap between races.
Who doesn’t like a good barbecue or game of disc golf?
10.) What are the most important lessons from the successes of downtown development over the past decade, and how can they be applied to other parts of the city?
I think bringing public and private funds together can help achieve goals quicker and more efficiently. When private sector supporters match public dollars to attain the kind of development or redevelopment of a particular area, including the arts and entertainment facet, everyone wins. Less tax money footing the bill and more positive PR for any business willing to contribute to city development and enrichment is a great thing.
BONUS QUESTION: Can you read, write, or speak any language other than English? (Even partial proficiency counts, but please indicate your level of ability.)
No, I can’t speak any other languages other than very limited Spanish, but I plan to learn some German and much more solid Spanish speaking skills in the future.
If elected, I will do my best to serve as a leader and voice of the people (an ombudsman) that elect me, in the district and the throughout the city. I will do my best to seek input from citizens to dealwith tough issues. As a matter of fact as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter what my personal opinions are, which this questionnaire is asking for and is what I provided.