Knox County races heat up

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Early voting ends this coming Saturday, July 29, and with the August 3rd election just around the corner, the ballot deserves a closer look to see how the candidates line up.

Beginning with the Democratic primary in the Governor’s race, I would note that until recently I planned to choose our current Lord of the Manor on the Hill in Nashville, Phil Bredesen. After his remarks concerning the upcoming anti-marriage ballot initiative that seeks to forever eliminate legal recognition of same-sex couples, I cannot go there. Bredesen’s remarks indicated that it was a “done deal,” and it is only a matter of whether the measure will pass by “85% or 95%.” Mr. Bredesen has not apologized to my knowledge. I may abstain on this one.

The Democratic Senate race brings a similar bitter taste. Harold Ford, Jr.’s recent appearance at a gathering of Tennessee conservatives bolstered my view that he is nothing more than a “Republican light” candidate. I’m not sure how “light” he is after sharing the podium with the likes of Lloyd Daugherty and company.

I met Bob Scott, candidate for the Second District Congressional seat, at a candidate’s picnic held at Tyson Park. He and his wife seemed to be nice enough people. I’m not sure about their views on issues effecting the GLBT community.  John Greene doesn’t seem to have any information online.

Of course, I’m a fan of Harry Tindell who is unopposed for the Tennessee House of Representatives 13th District seat. Harry has been a friend to many in our community and is approachable and supportive. We can say the same things for Joe Armstrong, who is unopposed in the 15th District race.

Another hopeful candidate is Schree Pettigrew, who has tossed her hat in the ring for the 18th District Tennessee House of Representatives seat. Her campaign manager, Johnny Dobbins, is a GLBT community member. He and his partner, David, are welcome additions to our local community.

The 16th District sees Bill Dunn unopposed. I plan to write in my dog’s name.

Frank Nicely, 17th District state representative incumbent, was open to possibilities when the Knoxville contingent spoke to him during the Tennessee Equality Project’s Equality Day on the Hill. While he drew the line at “gay marriage,” he said he is open to civil unions or domestic partnerships. I say what watch he does, not what he says.

Circuit Court Judge of Division Four is the perennial dandelion, Bill Swann. I personally heard this man say that women go to his court to get orders of protection “for entertainment.” My dog will get the nod here as well.

Division One Chancellor John Weaver is the judge that has handed out the rulings on the County Charter. That may sound the final bell for his career on the bench. If it doesn’t, it should.

The Chancellor Division Three incumbent Mike Moyers has a valid challenger in Jim Andrews. Andrews opposed Tim Hutchinson in the last Knox County Sheriff’s race. He is definitely my pick here. Moyers needs to move on.

The Criminal Court Division Two race sees Judge Ray Lee Jenkins opposed by Ken Irvine, who has the backing of many local attorneys. Jenkins has been plagued with health problems in recent years, causing his caseload to logjam and resulting in extraordinarily lengthy waits to get cases heard. He needs to get some rest and let Irvine take the bench.

Mark Harmon, local University of Tennessee College of Communications professor, is vying with David Collins for Knox County Commission Seat A. Mark, who until recently hosted a radio talk show for WNOX NewsTalk 99 entitled “Left Turn,” is friendly with GLBTs and is a definite nod from me.

Billy Tindell is said to be playing hardball these days. (Yes, he’s Harry’s Dad.) Some real opposition is presented in Amy Broyles’ well-run campaign. Broyles almost single-handedly registered more than 10,000 voters in the 2004 Presidential election. Tindell is suiting up for battle as his family members and other supports call the folks in the neighborhood to rally support for Tindell, who has served on the Knox County Commission for 36 years. Broyles has actively sought GLBT support and has offered support as well, long before her candidacy for the County Commission. Her appearance at the Gyrlgroove Luau Dance in June marked the first time in a candidate has sought out a lesbian-only venue to “work the crowd” and show interest in that particular part of our community. Despite my gratitude to Tindell for his many years of service, I am definitely voting for Broyles for the Knox County Commission District 2 Seat B post.

In another Commission race, we at the East Bureau heartily endorse E. Colvin Idol as he opposes Ivan Harmon for the District 3 Seat B position. Colvin and his wife, Saroj Chand, have been supporters of the GLBT community for many years. Idol’s name may be familiar to longtime residents in connection with his work in local broadcast media including our local Public Broadcasting Service affiliate.

We also wish to advocate voting for Randy Tyree as he vies for the Knox County Sheriff office held for many years by Tim Hutchinson. It is time for Old King Tim to step down. People who are in office too long get very comfortable. I think Hutchinson has been comfortable for quite some time now.

Other endorsements from this desk include Joan Wagner, Tom Salter, Margaret Massey-Cox, Elaine Davis, Ursula Bailey, Mike Padgett, and Scott Emge. Time and space do not allow for commentary on every race, but these folks will be great officeholders. They deserve your vote.

For further information on this and other election issues, visit the Knox County Election Commission online at www.knoxcounty.org/election/.

To download a sample ballot, point your mouse at www.knoxcounty.org/election/pdfs/sample_ballot_06.pdf.