Indya and Eddie: Ups and downs

Sandra ClarkOpinion

In 2019, I wrote here about the Knoxville election for mayor. Interestingly, and forgotten by most, Eddie Mannis was the people’s choice – at least in the Aug. 27 primary.

Mannis polled 7,005 votes (38 percent) to Indya Kincannon’s 5,568 (29 percent) and Marshall Stair’s 5,158 (27 percent). Stair lost by 410 votes and was eliminated. Kincannon went on to win the runoff, with 13,291 votes to 12,069 for Mannis. (Numbers are election night, unofficial returns.)

This week illustrates how their trajectories have diverged.

Kincannon was masterful on two key issues – the city budget and public broadband; Mannis was censured by the West Knox Republican Club.

Let’s look at Kincannon first.

She began Tuesday’s city council meeting with an infographic that showed the city on sound financial footing as it begins its July 1 fiscal year. Kincannon noted:

  • There are no new taxes, and the city’s tax rate is 27 cents lower than it was 5 years ago – near a 30-year low.
  • The 2021-22 budget maintains the tax rate of $2.46 per $100 of assessed value – a flat rate for the fifth consecutive year.
  • Debt obligation is 30% lower than it was 20 years ago. (When Victor Ashe left office, having obligated the city for the convention center.)
  • The city has a healthy savings account – roughly $87 million as of June 30, 2021.
  • Building permits in the city are up. Projects valued at $697 million were issued permits in 2020, even during a pandemic.
  • The number of permits issued by the city for privately-funded projects valued over $1 million has grown by more than 400 percent in a decade.
  • The city enjoys its best bond ratings ever in its 230-year history: Fitch, AAA; Moody’s, Aa1; and Standard & Poor’s, AA+.

KUB’s request to offer broadband had potential to derail as Andrew Roberto and Lynne Fugate offered a motion to delay the vote until August. “If it’s a good idea today, it will be a good idea in August,” said Roberto (twice). A couple of other council members indicated they could support delay but only after the council heard from those who had come to speak.

After the speakers, Kincannon rallied council to vote immediately. “Come on, let’s do this!” Risky, but it worked. The vote passed 8-0 with one abstention.

Eddie Mannis, on the other hand, got elected to the state House of Representatives in 2020. After one year, he drew censure from the Republican club in his district. Club president Gary Loe listed several reasons why:

  • Mannis voted against the bill to allow Tennesseans over 21 to carry firearms without a permit or training. He earned an F from the National Rifle Association.
  • He did not vote on the so-called Unborn Child Dignity Act which requires medical facilities to bury or cremate fetal remains of an abortion – an act unlikely to withstand court challenge.
  • He voted against a bill to outlaw the teaching of “Critical Race Theory,” – a Fox News-driven notion that no one actually in education has heard of.
  • He did not vote for the bill to require transgender kids in public schools to use a special restroom.
  • He has been quoted as saying he did not vote for Donald J. Trump and he has contributed money to Democratic candidates.

Indya and Eddie. She’s governing like a Republican while he’s voting like a Democrat. Which one has the aptitude for this crazy game called politics?

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

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