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Knoxville City Council at Large Seat B

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David Hayes Community Organizer

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Campaign Phone (865) 963-6476

All cities want to attract new businesses that will provide its residents with well paying jobs. What qualities do you think a city should have to attract these kinds of businesses?

First and foremost, the city must prioritize the needs of its residents, communities, unions, environment, and local businesses, putting people over profit. The city of Knoxville must be intentional about the out of town businesses it attracts, and cease being a place where corporations come to pay low wages, low taxes, and pollute our environment. The city should prioritize businesses who are willing to sign community benefits agreements with unions and community organizations so development can benefit all residents. Furthermore, the city must take an active role in building a sustainable local economy that poor and working class, Black, Brown, and all people benefit from and participate in.

What is the best use of the former St. Mary’s Hospital campus?

A hospital was the best use of St. Mary’s Hospital campus and it’s unfortunate that local governments did not do more to prevent the hospital from leaving. Currently, there is no proof or data to confirm that renovating St. Mary’s Hospital campus into a police/fire headquarters is cheaper than renovating the current police station. Furthermore, moving the city courthouse from its location in the current police station (which is a block away from the bus station) to St. Mary’s is an unnecessary hardship on bus riders. The city must have a larger imagination when it comes to the use of St. Mary’s and involve the surrounding community and the students, families, teachers, and staff at Fulton High School to identify the best use of the space. Personally, I would like to see the ownership of the land transferred to a community land trust, with social services, healthcare, cooperatives, and/or small businesses using the space.

What do you think are the best ways for the city to generate increased revenue?

Uplifting the poor and working class must become a central way we build our tax base as a city. Having properly funded social services, community resources, and housing are investments into people that will allow our tax base and revenue to grow while also ensuring that our city works for everyone. Poor and working class Knoxvillians currently pay too much of their income in taxes due to our high sales taxes while wealthy corporations and large businesses pay low wages to their employees and low taxes. It’s time for wealthy institutions to pay their fair share and properly contribute to our communities.

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Janet Testerman CEO, Young-Williams Animal Center

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Campaign Phone (865) 250-4860

All cities want to attract new businesses that will provide its residents with well paying jobs. What qualities do you think a city should have to attract these kinds of businesses?

During my time at Scripps Networks, we had this discussion often as we looked to recruit talent to Knoxville. As happened with companies like Scripps, Whittle and Regal Entertainment, once people choose Knoxville for a career opportunity, they establish roots because of the quality of life Knoxville provides. In recruiting, however, I maintain a city needs a 360 experience that includes a vibrant downtown, arts and culture, culinary experiences, outdoor recreation, which includes transportation options and walkability, along with quality schools and safe neighborhoods. On the flip side, companies looking to relocate look for a skilled workforce, and I feel Knoxville offers that, especially as we invest more on vocational skills education and training. Affordability is also key, and Knoxville is attractive because of our low taxes and has been on multiple best-places-to-live lists, which companies seek by looking at accolades a city has received as part of their decision-making process.

What is the best use of the former St. Mary’s Hospital campus?

The city has already acquired the former St. Mary’s Hospital campus and is in the process of site planning for the Knoxville Police Department and Knoxville Fire Department. That said, I have met with the leadership of KPD and KFD who are all excited about the move to a new location, which will grant them more space but also help streamline the resources of our top first-responder agencies along with the city municipal court system. In addition, spending time with members of the 5th District, I have heard nothing but an overwhelming response from residents in favor of the relocation and will be committed to working with the neighborhood on the use of the old hospital and its grounds. I know there is conversation as well with members of the private sector to lease any additional space that would likely result in shared responsibility with certain overhead expenses.

What do you think are the best ways for the city to generate increased revenue?

Discovery, Regal and Gannett/KNS are divesting/transitioning in Knoxville, and with the investment of Berkshire Hathaway in Pilot/Flying J and Clayton, the long-term presence of these companies remains unclear. With so much transition among our largest employers, we need to leverage our city for opportunities that create jobs as well as build/expand our tax base to, in turn, provide, support and fund much-needed social services. The new Chamber leader is also a critical role for business development and selling our city to prospective employers looking to relocate to Knoxville. Another revenue generator is finding solutions for vacant properties. Blight isn’t an option, so let's promote new business and local entrepreneurs to get these properties back on the tax rolls and generating income. Having been a small business owner, I know the blood, sweat and tears a start-up takes, but getting the doors open is not enough. We need to be self-sustaining and set them up for long-term success.