Metro Pulse sent the following questionnaire to all candidates for Knoxville City Council. Candidates' responses have not been edited in any way.
SHARON WELCH, candidate for At-Large Seat C
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 matters. It is the heart and core of the area. Without heart, no life. The City’s leadership input is vital in shaping an agenda for the region because without a head the City will be blinded to the needs of the City and/or the directions in which to go in-order to bring about economic growth and development, build strong and safe neighborhoods, preserve history and foster an environment in which people will be proud to live, work, raise a family, and retire.
2.) Name three specific ways you would like the city of Knoxville to be different after your term(s) in office.
I would say better rather than different. Three specific ways I would like the City of Knoxville to be better after my term (s) in office:
a. I would work to help bring about increased neighborhoods groups’ unified efforts to work together in finding solutions to issues of common interests.
These issues could include but not limited to safety, property blight, speed and other traffic problems.
b. I would like to see the completion of several, if not all, corridors for the improvement and beautification of the City.
c. I would like to see a continuing budget which will meet the needs of the City without having to raise taxes, as well as holding onto the City’s stable rainy day fund.
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?
The City already works with several community agencies to help serve the needs of children near or below the poverty level. I support the idea that it takes the whole community to deal with these needs to include churches as well as private industries.
4.) Do you support the goals of the Hillside and Ridgetop 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.)
Truly, I will not venture to answer any questions concerning the goals of the Hillside and Ridge-top Protection Plan. I will leave this total question to the experts. As a candidate I submit myself to study and to learning from them before venturing to make any decisions.
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?
Setting the City agenda: It takes a combined effort of The City Council (legislative) and the Mayor(administrative) in order to reach solutions to the needs of the City as a whole and those of concern to Knoxvillians.
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, continuing green ways, recycling and energy efficiency projects.
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?
It is important. I believe more efforts like the recent GAME TIME TN held at Neyland Stadium this May should be encouraged.
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.
It is important on each area mentioned. People are more inclined to support other neighborhood efforts when transportation is readily available, reaching one place of work could be more economical via public transportation, it encourages young people recreational activities when places are able to be reached by bicycle or foot.
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 At-Large Council members do to encourage more communication and connection between races, communities, and neighborhoods?
Encourage People involvement in activities that are outside of neighborhood and culture. Perhaps, an “All Neighborhood Unity Day.”
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?
Preservation is key to redevelopment. Building people pride of the neighborhood and increased food and recreational spots which encourage fellowship and relaxation.
BONUS QUESTION: Can you read, write, or speak any language other than English? (Even partial proficiency counts, but please indicate your level of ability.)