Did Rogero put her thumb on the scale?

Betty BeanKnox Scene

The tough thing about writing a Friday column after a Tuesday election is finding something to say that hasn’t already been said in somebody else’s postmortem. But Friday morning’s coming down fast, so I’ll begin with this:

Mayor Madeline Rogero sunk Marshall Stair’s chances to make the runoff in the mayor’s race by forcing a vote on Recode Knoxville two weeks before the primary election.

Rogero, who is an urban planner by both education and inclination, turned a deaf ear to council members’ requests for a postponement. She clearly considers Recode a legacy accomplishment, but it is not as clear why she considered it an urgent enough matter to force a vote during the heat of the election to choose her successor, since she will not vacate the mayor’s office until December.

In a show of mayoral muscle seldom seen since the pre-term limits days when Victor Ashe ruled the roost, Rogero forced the second reading vote on Aug. 13. Early voting was in full swing and election day was Aug. 27.

It passed 8-1, with Mark Campen on the short end of the tally.

It is unclear why Stair went with the flow and voted to approve the measure, but truth to be told, Recode is so controversial that he was screwed either way – and he was the only member of council who’d be facing the voters this election.

This is not to minimize second-place finisher Indya Kincannon’s campaigning skills, which are formidable, but since her supporters tend to also be Rogero supporters who support the mayor’s initiatives whatever they might be, the whole Recode kerfuffle was no skin off Kincannon’s anatomy.

Likewise, the vote didn’t hurt frontrunner Eddie Mannis, a moderate Republican who called for a “pause” in the process weeks ago. His supporters tend to be more conservative, suburban and likely to oppose Recode. Although much of the opposition is reasonable and well-reasoned, vocal Agenda 21 folks who consider it a massive social engineering scheme have joined in the fray, as well.

Kincannon and Stair, both Democrats, were attempting to draw from the same pool of voters, although Stair also inherited many GOP supporters from his family, who have been influential in Knoxville’s cultural and political life for generations. Watch for these folks’ lawns to start sprouting Mannis signs.

It is unclear why city council members who wanted a postponement didn’t hang tough and demand more time to work out the kinks in the ordinance.

What is also unclear is who’s going to get Stair’s 5,158 votes in the general election, Kincannon or Mannis?

Some are making the assumption that it will be Stair’s fellow Democrat Kincannon, although that is a problematic contention since Republican owners of all those West Knoxville front yards that sported Stair signs before the primary will likely swap them for Mannis signs in the general. And in the end, that will not be good news for Recode Knoxville.

Note: No talking squirrels were involved in the process of writing this column.

Betty Bean is a veteran local reporter for the daily Knoxville Journal, Shopper-News and Metro Pulse. Her address is bbeanster@aol.com

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