Change Address

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City Council, 3rd District

Knoxville City Council
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    James Edward Corcoran Attorney

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    Seema Singh Perez Program Coordinator for Batterers Intervention Program at Alternative Counseling Center

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

The city has embarked on an ambitious two-year project to overhaul our local zoning code. What changes would you like to see? What parts of the existing code should be retained?

What do you think the vision and objectives of the present council and administration have been? How would you like to build upon or change that direction?

Please provide examples of how you have served the community in the past five years and how you think those efforts have prepared you to serve on city council.

Campaign Phone (865) 406-0375
Many people in the current administration have made a big deal about the zoning code going 50 years without being re-done. However, real estate property law traditionally changes very slowly due to the need for predictability. In short, when someone buys a house, their biggest single investment, they want to know that the neighborhood they buy into is the same type of neighborhood they will live in. However, our established low-density neighborhoods in District 3 should be left alone. We could increase density in some blighted areas near the city core, but the suburban areas outside of downtown should remain traditional residential areas.

I would like to reduce unnecessary restrictions that interfere with business owners deciding what to do with their own property, like excessive parking requirements and limits on on-site advertising in commercial corridors. We could expand to mixed uses in commercial corridors.
The present City government has been focused on revitalizing downtown, by subsidizing high dollar housing at the city's center. These TIFs and PILOTS served a necessary purpose, but now we need to let downtown carry it's own weight. Our corridors along Western Ave., Broadway, Chapman Highway, and Magnolia Avenue have suffered while we focused on downtown. I also believe that the City has unfortunately been in denial about the seriousness of the drug and gang problems in the city. Our leadership ignored the pill mills that got us into this mess. Also, our budget has outpaced our revenue increases, which is a trend that should make the city worried about another tax increase. I believe we need to get out of the way of our developers and stop "robbing Peter to pay Paul" by encouraging downtown development at the expense of the rest of the city. We also need to make our sidewalks and greenways safe, by increasing our law enforcement spending before increasing our greenway budget.

An overwhelming majority of my law practice has been providing legal services to poor families and children in foster care. I have been on the front lines fighting drug addiction, as it has made me painfully aware of our inadequate response to the drug problem. I have represented children involved in the worst that Knoxville has to offer, but I have also seen how the best of us can respond to improve those kids' lives. I have spent my career representing the literal "Little Guy" and I believe that has prepared me to represent the people of Knoxville, rather than special interest groups.

I also serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the County, which gives me the perspective to see how our existing zoning regulations can cause hardship on people wanting to create businesses and homes in Knox County. It's necessary experience for evaluating the upcoming zoning changes.
Campaign Phone (865) 368-8391
The current Knoxville zoning codes are not necessarily flawed but they are outdated. The new zoning codes look to address changes in our economy, transportation concerns, sustainability and how people want to live their lives .Knoxville had a population which had moved from central areas to the suburbs and zoning had responded to those needs. We have seen that trend reverse. Many are content with their neighborhood as is and new coding should not change that. New code should address unique needs in specific neighborhoods verses a blanket approach to code. There is a growing number of people that want to live in communities that are walkable to work and entertainment. New code with mixed use development will make that possible. Our economy is changing, small local businesses are using space in innovative ways that new zoning code needs to encourage and foster.
I have seen the Mayor and the present City Council make a concerted effort to work together respectfully. There are differing points of view and those should continue to be reviewed and discussed without contention. The city has been making strides towards a more green city, ie the Urban Wilderness and 50+ miles of greenways. Downtown has been developed into a area for festivals. businesses and residences, I support the positive work that the city council and Mayor Rogero have accomplished. I would want to build on all those approaches. I want to continue the standard of living for those who are doing well but also serve the needs of those struggling; those who require jobs with livable wages and workforce housing so that our children and neighbors will be able to afford to stay in Knoxville with a decent quality of life.
For five years I have been involved in variety of social justice work. I think in order for a city council to be most effective for all its constituents, it needs citizens from a variety of disciplines and experiences such as business, lawyers and real estate agents etc. We need members that have had experience in the political realm and have served the city for years on various advisory boards. I feel we have no shortage of these types. An aspect that often gets forgotten is a person that is well versed in social justice work, someone who can see certain advantages or disadvantages that a decision may have to underrepresented constituencies.

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