Metro Pulse sent the following questionnaire to all candidates for Knoxville mayor. Candidates' responses have not been edited in any way.
IVAN HARMON, candidate for mayor
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?
It matters because the city offers so much for our city and county residence to do. Especially in the city which offers such avenues as Market Square, the Riverfront, James White Fort, Basketball Hall of Fame, Blount mansion, the many parks and greenways and many other venues. The Mayor of Knoxville will have the ability to work with other cities in the region to help our economy.
2.) Name three specific ways you would like the city of Knoxville to be different after your term(s) in office.
I would like to be more developer friendly through codes and inspections, insure safer neighborhoods through crime watch programs and and more patrols and having a working relationship with the County Mayor that will lower cost to the tax payor and hopefully reduce our taxes.
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?
Work with service providers that are non-profits to help the families that are in need. Educate the families as to what is available to them.
4.) What should be the role of the city mayor in economic development, in respect to working with the county government, the Chamber of Commerce, and other economic development entities? In your opinion, is the city being wellserved at the moment by its economic development agencies? Is there anything that could or should be done better or differently?
We must take advantage of the University of Tennessee , Oak Ridge and the Chamber to help with the economy, including working with the County Mayor. We need to hold the economic development agencies accountable for the funds they receive and help them grow jobs in the city and county.
5.) 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.)
I believe in owner property rights. We have in place plans that address the development of hillsides and ridge top properties. We must make sure the inspectors see that it is build as per the plan calls for to protect down stream property owners. Sustainable development means it will hold its own in value and will not need help from tax payers to continue. The city can help remove the obstacles from causing development from moving forward, i.e., such as permitting and inspection needing to be streamlined.
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.
Knoxville has some great resources that can be utilized to make Knoxville a Green City. The University of Tennessee, TVA and Oak Ridge can be brought together in a collaborative fashion to offer innovative and effect plans to make Knoxville a Green City. One great example of the City being Green is the greenway system. I was part of the greenway system development in the Ashe administration. As Mayor, I will continue moving Knoxville’s parks and greenways forward by increasing the greenway system by four miles each year and work with KUB to maintain our parks as well.
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 mayor 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, I think the University of Tennessee will play a big part in my administration. I will work with UT to show what we as partners can do for this city economically and for our community and those around. Making sure the students come off the hill into the city to work and be a part of our community and raise their families will not only help us promote both but will help economically as well. Especially when some of those students become small business owners and we help them establish that business.
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.
We need to expand our transit service to more areas by using smaller buses. We also need to work with bicyclists to provide them with safer routes. We need to keep our sidewalks in good repair as well as our greenways and encourage people to use them to walk and ride to work.
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 the city mayor do to encourage more communication and connection between races, communities, and neighborhoods?
Most people to choose to live where they do regardless of their race or gender. The Mayor can only work to make sure all areas of the city are safe for our citizens to work and life. That is what I plan to do with the help of Chief David Rausch.
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?
More people are moving into our downtown area into the redeveloped/redesigned buildings that not only offer space but beautiful architecture to go with it. Everything is within walking distance - café’s, laundry, coffee houses, clothing stores, movie theatres, grocery store, art museums and much more. Working with the local businesses and individuals has made downtown a friendly environment that people not only want to work in but live and play also.
BONUS QUESTION: Can you read, write, or speak any language other than English? (Even partial proficiency counts, but please indicate your level of ability.)
This is America, the greatest country in the world. I speak English. One day I would like to learn Spanish.