Accomplishments in his first four-year term of office include:
â¢ Devoting his time, energy, and personal investment to the establishment of the Regal Riviera 8 cinema and the renovation of the Bijou Theatre on Gay Street.
â¢ Attracting Sysco Systems as the anchor tenant in the I-275 Industrial Park as part of the successful recruitment of more than $175 million in industrial investment in the city.
â¢ Raising the cityâ’s fund balance from $18 million to $38 million.
â¢ Getting the greenway system better connected and providing for a city-sponsored skate park.
â¢ Rejuvenating high-profile elements of the Worldâ’s Fair Park in reopening the Sunsphere and stabilizing the Tennessee Amphitheater.
â¢ Arranging for citizen involvement on major development and redevelopment questions, using the skills of his staff to acquire broad public input before proceeding.
â¢ Placing a new, high priority on the cityâ’s redevelopment of the South Knoxville Waterfront.
There is tremendous public and private benefit to be realized along the south bank of the river, and both the appeal of the city as a whole and its tax base can only be enhanced by bringing out its potential.
Other important city issues that Haslam will be called upon to address in a second term include applying the kind of bootstrap assistance that has been so successful in Mechanicsville to other city neighborhoods, such as Lonsdale, Vestal, andâ"now that the first effort has fizzledâ"Five Points.
About the only major negative reaction to Mayor Haslamâ’s first term was raised over the cityâ’s Community Development Division and its handling of Empowerment Zone details. The mayorâ’s reaction was to hire his former opponent, Madeline Rogero, and put the solving of those problems in her capable hands.
Haslamâ’s opponent in this election, Isa Infante, is a former college professor who has brought focus and imagination to the mayorâ’s race. She has raised important issues, such as park maintenance and environmental consciousness.
Still, we must heartily endorse Mayor Haslam for reelection to another term. He deserves it, and so does his city.
Only one of the four City Council seats up for grabs in this Sept. 25 primary and Nov. 6 general election season has attracted opposition to the incumbent. Ray Abbas, a 33-year-old who has served the Knoxville public in the non-profit sector, is challenging Joe Bailey for one of the at-large seats on Council.
Abbas is a former youth program manager for Knoxvilleâ’s Community Action Committee. Heâ’s president of the Love Kitchen organization, where heâ’s been a board member for 14 years. He has particular interest in resolving Knoxvilleâ’s homelessness situation and in stimulating economic revitalization in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Bailey has in his first term on Council shown that his political experience and community contacts can be put to good use. In many ways a stronger member of Council than was his late father, Ed, Bailey has demonstrated leadership on such issues as traffic calming, where he advocated and chaired a special committee and obtained a $250,000 budget commitment to education and signage. He also worked successfully for the establishment of the cityâ’s new R1-EN zoning code to allow common-sense zoning restrictions to be put in place with having to resort to a neighborhood overlay. Baileyâ’s been a strong supporter of Cumberland Avenueâ’s comprehensive rehabilitation program and the South Knoxville Waterfront project.
What we have is a good choice in this race between a youthful, energetic, progressive idealist and a seasoned, pragmatic, effective politician. Take your pick. You canâ’t go far wrongâ"and the city will likely profitâ"if either is elected.
The Council races will be on the ballot in both the primary and the general election, where a run-off is required. A 50-percent-plus-one vote margin in the mayoral race decides that office in the primary. Early voting for the primary started Sept. 5 and ends Sept. 20. You may contact the Election Commission at 215-2480 or www.knoxvotes.com to determine early-voting or election-day polling places.
Please be sure to vote.
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