Broyles blends ideals with practicality in commission run

Larry Van GuilderAs I see it, West Knox

Policing the mean streets of Memphis for six years is not a job for the fainthearted. Neither is facing a roomful of your own party’s supporters and espousing a less-than-popular political opinion.

Scott Broyles, a Republican candidate for Knox County Commission District 4 in the March 3 primary, has done both.

Broyles is president and CEO of the nonprofit National Safe Skies Alliance. The 55-year-old Memphis native didn’t have to call in the SWAT team at the West Knox Republican Club meeting, although he confesses his position on the future of the county law director position met with a cool reception.

“I’m in favor of appointing,” he says, adding that it’s important to say what you believe and stick with it.

“It’s a ‘yes or no’ question,” he concludes, and no need to “sell your soul” to win your audience or an election.

He may sound like a political naif – he’s anything but. He’s been a commission watcher for a long time, so long, in fact, that he coined a unique description for the developer/neighborhood/planners/commission free-for-all interlude in each commission meeting known innocuously as “zoning.”

“It’s the ‘Great Kabuki Dance,’” he says, invoking the stylized Japanese ritual drama with colorfully costumed good guys and bad guys.

He acknowledges the importance of two issues to District 4 constituents – traffic and development – but stresses the need for a “fair and equitable” process for developers. Whatever that process ultimately looks like, he adds, it also must be perceived as equitable from the perspective of homeowners and landowners.

Opinions on development quite often come down to whose ox is being gored; Broyles gets credit for aiming at improving the zoning process for everyone’s ox.

The details will have to be worked out with commissioners, planners, developers and homeowners. The faint of heart need not apply for a seat on the committee.

The candidate believes in the value of at-large commission seats. Not surprisingly, he thinks at-large commissioners should be part of the Charter Review Committee, bringing a broader view to issues before the county.

His position during the recent debates on moving the school administration to the TVA East Tower was simple: “The first group to make this about the kids wins,” he said. “On balance,” he adds, “it’s the right thing to do.”

Broyles sees an element missing from the commission body which others have long noted but rarely commented on: Respect for their colleagues.

“Respect is the coin of the realm,” he says, almost wistfully, contrasting the “eye-rolling” or ignoring behavior of some commissioners when their colleagues have the floor to the era when “the opposition” was not an insulting term. Old-fashioned? Maybe, but commendable.

Broyles is not painting with a broad brush, but regular commission-watchers see enough to agree with his observation. His law enforcement years, in which mutual respect, police and public, was vital certainly reinforced his philosophy.

In that vein, Broyles respects his primary opponent, Kyle Ward.*

“I don’t have any illusions,” he says. “It’s going to be a dogfight.”

Read more at Broyles’ campaign website here.

Larry Van Guilder is the business/government editor for KnoxTNToday. Contact him at

*Editor’s note: We’ve been unable to schedule an interview with Kyle Ward but we will keep trying.

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