City council candidates: Covid vaccine

Sandra ClarkOpinion

(Updated with a response from Andrew Roberto)


Early voting starts in three weeks (Aug. 11-26) for five seats (a majority) on Knoxville City Council. Election day is Tuesday, Aug. 31. The top two vote-getters from each district will move on to a citywide vote on Nov. 2.

We polled the candidates on three issues, hoping for a one-word answer but taking what we got.

Question: Are you fully vaccinated for Covid-19?

Tommy Smith (District 1 incumbent): Yes.

Elizabeth Murphy (District 1): I understand that our current climate has given individuals the false perception that asking about someone’s medical decisions is an allowable part of public discourse, but I personally am not a fan of this trend. I respect everyone’s decision to make the best choice for themselves. I am an advocate for full informed consent on every medical decision. Taking a vaccine or a medication is a personal choice and is the business of no one, but the individual receiving it.

Andrew Roberto (District 2 incumbent): Yes.

Kim Smith (District 2): I think the vaccine is a personal choice and I do not want to influence anyone who is for or against getting the vaccine. It is a private choice between people and their health care provider.

Seema Singh (District 3 incumbent): Yes

Nick Ciparro (District 3): My medical records are between me and my doctor. I remain neutral on vaccination debates.

Lauren Rider (District 4 incumbent): Absolutely! The whole family because we are so lucky everyone is above 12.

Jim Klonaris (District 4): I respect the medical privacy of all individuals nor do I think someone’s health status should determine their electability as a public official.

Gwen McKenzie (District 6 incumbent): Yes, I am fully vaccinated for COVID-19. I am co-host of the Faith Leaders initiative that has met weekly since May 2020 in conjunction with community partners to provide education/updates on COVID-19; access to testing; the vaccine and resources available to help those negatively impacted.

Garrett Holt (District 6): Yes

No response: David Hayes (District 1), Jen McMahon (District 4) and Deidra Harper (District 6).

Next up: Should the city of Knoxville contribute $$ toward construction of a downtown baseball stadium?

Adams and Jefferson

You know the story. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, our second and third presidents, collaborated to write the Declaration of Independence. They were solid friends, became estranged rivals and later reconciled.

Peggy Noonan wrote about them, basing her column on Gordon Wood’s 2017 biography “Friends Divided.”

“They met in Philadelphia in the Continental Congress in 1775 and invented a nation together in 1776. What allies they were, how brilliantly they worked, in spite of differences in temperament, personality, cast of mind and background,” Noonan writes.

“Adams of Massachusetts was hearty, frank, abrupt. He was ardent, a brilliant, highly educated man who found it difficult to conceal his true thoughts. His background was plain New England. He made his own way in the world.

“Jefferson was an aristocrat, a member of Virginia’s landed gentry. He let the game come to him. Mr. Wood quotes a eulogist, who said Jefferson ‘kept at all times such a command over his temper that no one could discover the workings of his soul.’ He was serene.”

Adams and Jefferson risked loss of property and even death by declaring independence from Great Britain. Their best day was July 4, 1776. They lived for 50 more years, both dying on July 4, 1826, forever paired in history.

Oaks and acorns

The mightiest oak was once a scruffy acorn that refused to lose.

Chris Krewson writes about the “death” of local news. He points to Alden Global Capital gutting the Chicago Tribune, but then links to 14 online news sources that have launched in Chicago.

Krewson says businesses like KnoxTNToday.com are opening across the country, even as newspapers die. “They’re not replacing the newspaper. They don’t need to. This nascent industry has the potential to grow beyond the limitations of newspapers, to truly reflect and serve communities large and small, rural, urban, Black, Brown, Indigenous, queer… and on and on. We just have to stop thinking about saving the unsavable and build businesses that serve the needs of communities first.”

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

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