Here comes Marshall

Sandra ClarkFeature, Gossip and Lies

So I’m not the most attentive play-goer in town. Sitting through the pageantry and sturm und drang of “Candide,” I’m taken by the leading actor’s resemblance to Marshall Stair – both physically and temperamentally.

The youthful Candide falls in love with a princess and pursues her through time and place. And even though he grows wiser, he continues to believe he has “the best of all possible worlds.”


Stair, at age thirtysomething, already has served seven years on Knoxville City Council. He’s graduated from Tulane University and UT Law. He’s lived in Houston, Austin and Chicago. He’s worked for a nonprofit environmental group and now represents companies defending workers comp claims.

His campaign announcement is littered with exclamation points and even all caps for key words such as “excited,” “future” and “vision.” His biography fails to mention his attendance at Webb School of Knoxville or the now-shuttered furniture store he and wife Natalie opened on Gay Street to considerable fanfare in 2016.

He does, however, talk about his support for Recode Knoxville … “pushing to update the zoning code, reduce commercial sign clutter, improve transit and promote walkable communities.”

Stair is talking issues that appeal to the city’s urban core, not so much to the suburban areas like Fountain City and West Hills where folks like big yards for themselves and their neighbors.

His service on the council has been undistinguished, noted for frequent recusals as his law firm colleague John King argues zoning appeals. He said just enough during the debate on pension reform to make employees suspect while Mayor Rogero gathered all the credit for the tightened plan.

That said, though, there’s that boyish enthusiasm about Knoxville’s bright future! He says: “A great city is measured by the quality of the lives of the people who live in it, so we must make sure ALL Knoxvillians are reaping the benefits of progress.”

And therein lies the appeal of Marshall Stair. In a footrace with the angry Mike Chase, the very, very busy Eddie Mannis and the duped-by-McIntyre Indya Kincannon, who you gonna choose? I’m guessing the young fellow who dares to love the princess, who sees catastrophe as just another inconvenience and who believes he’s living in the best of all possible towns.

Candide for Mayor!

County Commission: By the time you read this, the decision for chair of Knox County Commission probably will have been made. It’s a contest between vice chair Charles Busler and newer guy Hugh Nystrom. Here’s guessing our 7-foot mayor wants a fresh face. And that would be Nystrom. It will be a first vote for new at-large commissioners Larsen Jay and Justin Biggs.

School Board: This group will select a chair and vice chair on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Patti Bounds said to expect a new chair, so we’re guess Terry Hill. When we said that out loud at a business meeting in Karns, Hill said, “I’m not running for that!” It will be a first vote for new board members Virginia Babb, Evetty Satterfield and Kristi Kristy.

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