Saturday, January 12, 2008

Norwood Kiwansis Candidate Forum on Friday

I went and had a great lunch at Ramsey's Restaurant. Ramsey's is located inside the Days Inn at Central Avenue Pike and Merchants Rd. The food was great. I visited the Norwood Kiwanis meeting and the members there were very nice. The program was a forum between Amy Broyles, Cortney Piper and Chuck Williams. All three are Democrat candidates that are on the Democrat primary ballot February 5, 2008. The winner will face Republican Chuck Bolus on the August 7 general election ballot. Chuck was unable to attend as he is an Assistant Principal at Gresham Middle School.

I had met Cortney before so it was great to greet her as she entered the door and she said "Brian, how are you?" I then introduced myself to Amy, as we had never met before and figured that with all my efforts on behalf of the Republican party against the Orange ballot that it may not be a friendly introduction. But Amy was very nice, even complimentary. I met Chuck Williams briefly at the conclusion of the debate.

Hubert Smith seved as the moderator for the forum. He did an exceptional job. Hubert is a radio talk show host of The Hubert Smith Radio Show, broadcast weekly on Sundays 4 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. on AM 850 WKVL. He is also host of a live television program called One on One with Hubert Smith broadcast weekly on Fridays at 9:00 p.m. on CTV Comcast Cable Channel 12 .

Also in attendance were County Commissioner Ivan Harmon, County Commissioner and Property Assessor candidate Phil Ballard and Democrat Property Assessor Andrew Graybeal.

The opening statements began

Cortney Piper said that she desires to transform county government into a citizen vehicle. She will be 100% accessible. Recognizing that the school budget is 2/3 rds of the county budget. She said that she is the only candidate with land use experience. Because of her experience with the TN Clean Water she is aware that in Knox County we have 350 miles of polluted or unusable streams.

Amy Broyles said that she and her husband own a small business. A hard wood flooring business. They have three children. They all attend Knox County Schools. She spends time with all the PTA's not just the ones where her children go to school but all the schools of the Second district. They live in Old North Knox for the past 15 years. She said that her leadership will help tighten up county government.

Chuck Williams said that he got involved because there are a lack of services in the Second District. He said that he is tired of the scandals and that there is a reason that the Mayor keeps defending someone instead of firing her. He also said that we need accountability to our schools.
The first question was in regards to the Cynthia Finch incident.

Williams said personally I believe that she needs to pay back all the money including the travel. He then asked Why is the Mayor protecting her?

Broyles said This highlights that our county government needs to check all county positions and departments. She said that Finch did the right thing in stepping down from oversight of the grant awarding process.

Piper said The problems highlighted with the community services highlights a greater need. We need to continue with the audits. The county having now removed Finch, Mike Arms and Mike Ragsdale from the recommendation to a citizen panel is a good move.

The second question was should Cynthia Finch be dismissed?

Piper said If I were accused of what she has been accused of, I would not continue in my position with my organization.

Broyles said Yes.

Williams said Definitely.

The third question was for each candidate to tell how they are different from the rest.

Broyles said her history of experience with the community, having children in public schools and that she is prepared for the job.

Piper said the fact that she is a local professional, community volunteer, college athlete. She planned organized and led the "Greek Challenge". It received a national award for Keep Knoxville Beautiful. She said that every time she faces a challenge she comes up with a plan to overcome the objection. She is the only candidate with land use experience.

Williams said I know what it is like to face the challenges that the other two talked about, because I have faced them. I told Mayor Ragsdale that I am not afraid to go to the media on his butt.

The fourth question was asked of Williams. What did the Mayor say when you told him that you were not afraid to go to the media on him?

Williams said that His aide called me asked who told me about what it was that I had called him about. I told them to get it done and they did.

The fifth question asked was How has closing the East Towne early voting site affected voting in the second district?

Piper said people do not have the luxury of voting in the mall. It was very convenient.

Williams said That he had received a phone call blaming Amy. It doesn't bother me as I vote at the Love Kitchen. He asked why was it closed down? I don't know as with all Knox County decisions no reason was given.

Broyles said In order to come into compliance with State election laws, it had to be moved. It is currently across the street. Is more convenient. Most people don't like walking through a sea of asphalt to go vote.

The sixth question was asked How do you represent your district when a group of neighbors and a developer are opposing one another for a vote on County Commission?

Williams said I would have to know why they are opposed. Heat don't bother me. I don't care what they say.

Piper said the government has a need to represent the community first. Listen to the public and then look at the development.

Broyles On this you will not find much difference in the three of us. We have a problem in this community with the developers having too much say. I have returned campaign contributions from some developers.

The seventh question asked was, Give us your opinion on the Halls TIF. and if they had been on Commission would they have voted for it?

Piper said I was at that meeting until midnight. TIF's should only be used for blighted areas. Halls isn't in need for on-site prep work. She would have voted NO.

Williams said it scares me that we agree on so much. Rule High School is empty and is blighted and could use a TIF. It should be for all of us.

Broyles said The TIF is inappropriate. The downtown tif was used and the desired use produced results.

The eighth question asked was, At present how are you making yourself available and how will you do it if elected?

Williams said Geogiana Vines reported that these two are fighting. I will return phone calls. I haven't had to return any contributions because my brother gave me the money to pay for the cards that I handed out to you. He went on to say that if for some reason he is unsuccessful in this race he will support the nominee.

Broyles said that she is on all neighborhood list serves. She has been available at meetings and that it is not always easy to connect with all officials. But she will be.

Piper said the website, phone, She has been knocking on doors, attending Commission meetings, when issues come up she post her thoughts on blog and issues media advisories to publications like Knoxville Focus (which the editor Charmin Froth and Reporter Brian Paone were attending the meeting)

Each candidate was given a 2 minute closing remark.

Broyles encourages everyone to visit her website. You can make a campaign contribution securely there.

Piper said that as a Division 1 college athlete it instills a passion for what we want. As a local professional community volunteer she is committed to the cause of transforming our county government into a citizen driven vehicle. She stated that she has the grace and finesse to get 9 other votes on County Commission to help us. I would appreciate your vote. Vote for me to transform our community into a citizen involvement vehicle.

Williams said that he had moved here after 9/11 from New York to be near my daughter. I plan to open an office on Central Avenue to help citizens. My phone number is 865-237-8761. He said that he is tired of all the non sense and I hope that you will vote for me.


Anonymous said...

As a Kiwanian in New York, at least here, the organization is supposed to be totally apolitical; no endorsements, no sponsorships of electoral styled events. It's so restrictive in the NY District that past Governors aren't allowed to endorse or publicly support a candidate for District Governor; however one past Governor who flaunts all of the policies & procedures of the NY District of Kiwanis is, even this year, chauffering around and attending meetings with a candidate for Governor-Designate

Brian Hornback said...

A Kiwanian mentioned this to me on Friday. I talked with one of the leaders and it is acceptable to have an event like they did, because they invited all candidates. There was no endorsement of any candidate at this event or any Kiwansis event. It was an educational event for each member to make up their own mind prior to voting.