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Knoxville City Council District 5

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Charles Al-Bawi Attorney

Biographical Information

Campaign Phone (865) 200-3755

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?

A city should have two main qualities to attract businesses that offer living wages and benefits. The first and most obvious quality is a big pool of educated and happy workers. Second, the city should offer logistics that will enable the businesses to find and supply their customer base. Knoxville has both of those qualities. First, we are blessed to have quality educational institutions such as TCAT, Pellissippi, LMU, and the University of Tennessee. These institutions recruit and train a workforce capable of performing in any field. Second, Knoxville is at the junction of I-40 and I-75. We connect North to South and East to West in the United States. We are a one day drive from fifty percent of the population in the United States. We are also right beside one of the most visited National Parks in the Country. Our location provides businesses a remarkable advantage that other cities cannot. Our labor force and logistics provide an advantage that should attract any business.

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

I believe that our City needs two main resources that the St. Mary's site can provide. The first is affordable housing. The site is large enough to provide a substantial source of affordable housing. That could mean creating a future KCDC apartment complex, an apartment complex aimed at working class individuals who want to live in a conveniently located neighborhood, or a cooperative apartment complex that provides a mix of affordable and affluent apartments. The second option would be to use the area to establish the in-patient mental health care facility that this city needs. These options could be created instead of the Public Safety Complex or in conjunction with it.

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

First, we can increase our tax base by actively addressing our housing needs. We would look at restoring blighted properties. We can work to expand our many housing programs that would improve access to housing for those who would not otherwise be able to afford it. We can also work with property owners to improve the quality of their current residence. All three of these would increase the City's revenue from property taxes by expanding our tax base and by increasing property values throughout the City. Second, we can increase revenue from our sales tax. We can bring in new businesses that are unique to this region that encourage customers to spend in Knoxville. We can also increase the disposable income of our residents by bringing in high paying jobs and by making the City more affordable to the poor and working class. To achieve this we can expand many programs that already exist such as our summer programs for children that essentially offer reduced cost childcare to our residents

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Charles Thomas Attorney, and bookseller at Union Ave Books

Biographical Information

Campaign Phone (865) 687-6090

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?

Knoxville has made great strides in recent years in amenities which make it an attractive place to both live and locate a business. As a city, we should continue our efforts in correcting urban blight, becoming more pedestrian and bike friendly, improving bus and trolley service, protecting our historic buildings and unique architecture, encouraging the arts, and highlighting our rich history. The expansion of linear parks and greenways that connect neighborhoods and the development of the Urban Wilderness has attracted people here both as visitors and residents. Calculated investments in these areas not only attract outside talent and businesses, but also encourage local talent and businesses to remain here. I want to help continue that progress.

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

City Council has voted for this abandoned site to be the new headquarters for the KPD, Fire Department, and City Court. Considering the likelihood that the area otherwise would be vacant indefinitely and deteriorate, this appears to be the best available option, and I support it. As this will involve roughly only half the area, the remaining approximately 4 acres would be available for other uses. Lincoln Memorial University is interested in an existing office tower as a facility for their nursing program, and I would encourage that. The remaining area has great positive potential for the surrounding area, and an open process involving all stakeholders and the surrounding residents and neighborhoods is essential. A variety of options including possible mixed-use commercial, affordable housing and greenspace are among options that can be considered, with the possibility that more than one could be incorporated. Public input is of utmost importance.

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

Knoxville still has a great deal of blighted property, vacant lots, and surface parking which could be reclaimed, restored and put back on the tax rolls. This would provide more opportunities for both businesses and affordable housing. The City should continue a close dialogue with the business community, and mutually beneficial public/private partnerships should be explored and encouraged. Payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) and tax incremental financing (TIF) are among the tools that can be used, and when carefully and judiciously applied, can produce beneficial outcomes that enable a business to solidify itself at the outset with the City receiving an opportunity for increased revenue from a lower tax-generating site.