Maybe it’s time to add another category to the old cliché about “almost” winning only counting in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Minutes after City Council – at a special called meeting Wednesday – voted 9-0 to break the fourth district’s second place primary deadlock by choosing to put Harry Tindell on the Nov. 7 general election ballot, Amelia Parker held a pep rally in front of the City County building and told an enthusiastic crowd of at least 100 supporters that she will run in the general election as a write-in candidate.
Political newcomer Parker and former state legislator Tindell finished the district-only Aug. 29 primary with 488 votes each, behind first-place finisher Lauren Rider, who had 889. Since state law and the city charter call for the top two candidates to proceed to the November general election, it fell to City Council to break the tie.
Parker is part of a group called the 2017 City Council Movement, which urged council members to either call for a run-off election or to put both Tindell and Parker into the general election along with Rider. The first option is impossible due to logistical problems and time constraints, including the difficulties of getting absentee ballots to members of the military. The second option is not legal (as per election administrator Cliff Rodgers and City Council’s counsel Rob Frost).
After council members rejected a suggestion that they decide the matter via coin toss, they allowed the two candidates to state their case before the vote was held.
Parker, a fiery social justice worker who holds two law degrees, has rubbed city officials the wrong way in past encounters. She acknowledged those encounters in her remarks and pushed for letting the people decide the issue.
“I’ve spoken before City Council before. But I never imagined that I’d be here before you today, asking for a seat at the table. And do I find it quite unfortunate that that’s the situation we find ourselves in. I believe that voters should be the ones that choose their representatives and that we should in no situation have City Council members make that determination, which I see as a conflict of interest and could send a message to future candidates that they should be leery of this potential situation, and therefore limit how much they speak truth to power in the work that they do…”
Tindell, who served two terms on the school board and 11 in the state House of Representatives, alluded to the Vols’ double overtime win over Georgia Tech by saying that this has been “a week of second chances.” He called himself a “numbers guy,” and said he’d won two first-place finishes, four second-place finishes and fewer third place finishes in the district’s eight precincts than Parker and said he believes in working cooperatively to grow the city’s economy.
The fourth district includes much of Fountain City, the Fourth & Gill area, Alice Bell, Spring Hill and Holston Hills. It is currently represented by Nick Della Volpe, who is term-limited.