Candidates at-large

Sandra ClarkGossip and Lies, Halls

Days before the turkey landed in pots across Knox County, three candidates for Knox County Commission at-large spoke to the Halls Republican Club.

Larsen Jay told how he turned a near-fatal fall into a new enterprise – Random Act of Flowers – which is now in five cities and has delivered 260,000 bouquets to cheer the sick and elderly.

Ronnie Rochelle said surviving a near-fatal car crash in his youth led him to a life of volunteerism.

R. Larry Smith cut to the chase: “You guys need insurance!” he said to laughter. “Falling off ladders, flipping cars. …”

Smith lives in Halls and holds a degree from UT in forestry. He owns an insurance agency and has been in the industry’s Million Dollar Roundtable for 31 consecutive years.

He served two terms on Knox County Commission and two terms on the Metropolitan Planning Commission. He showed a four-page list of officeholders and department heads. “I know them all on a first-name basis. … I enjoy putting people together to solve problems.”

Smith said he won’t pass on votes, has no family ties to the courthouse and works closely with the school board. He called himself pro-development, but said business incentives should be for no longer than the loan.

Smith is running for Seat 11, now held by Commissioner Ed Brantley. Republican Justin Biggs and Democrat Vivian Underwood Shipe have also picked up petitions for this seat.

Jay and Rochelle are vying for Seat 10, now held by Commissioner Bob Thomas, a candidate for county mayor. Rochelle has not yet picked up a qualifying petition. Democrat William Stone has.

Rochelle has served on the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission and currently serves on the Knox County Board of Zoning Appeals. He is a mentor for Tennessee Promise and has been a certified financial planner since selling his retail furniture stores. He holds a degree from UT in microbiology and has been married for 45 years with one son.

Jay and his wife, Adrian, have two sons and live in the Rocky Hill area. He holds a master’s in business from UT and was a film and television producer prior to his accident in 2007. He was a founder of the ice skating rink on Market Square. After his accident, he moved “from a focus on success to a focus on significance.” He said long-range planning is important. “We don’t want to wake up one day and ask, ‘What happened?’”

But what about Roy Moore?

Three Republican candidates for Congress weighed in on social media Sunday to express unhappiness over the possible selection of Greg Schiano as head football coach at UT. It’s slipped by me if either has mentioned the fitness of Roy Moore to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Tim Burchett: “Schiano is clearly the wrong choice. I hope @john_currie and @ChancellorDav choose someone else. #KeepLooking.”

Jason Emert: “Being a head football coach is more than wins and losses. Greg Schiano is not up to the standards of representing the state of Tennessee, let alone the important task of developing of (sic) young men.”

Jimmy Matlock: “As a businessman, “I’ve spent a lifetime not reacting to rumors and fake news, waiting to make decisions when I have all the information. However, I would sincerely hope we would not consider compromising our values for winning football games. #UTfootball.”


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