The last of the four District 1 City Council contenders kicked off her campaign with a picnic filled with harmony.
Rebecca Parr and her supporters took over the pavilion and play area at Sam Duff Memorial Park for a few hours and were favored with beautiful weather and engaging live music.
Primarily a potluck picnic, with face-painting and games for kids and politicking and conversation for adults, the event evolved into sing-alongs and dancing to a talented assortment of musicians. Oh, and Parr said a few words.
“One of the reasons I’m running is that I do care a whole lot about what’s going on in our communities with families,” said Parr, who lives in Vestal. She referenced the recent fatal shooting at Montgomery Village.
“We need to start focusing on the families that are caught in the crossfire and that are living there and are just trying to have family lives. They can’t let their kids go out to play without shootings going on. We’ve got families here (at the picnic) that are living in that world.
“I know that there’s got to be a better way, that we’ve got to be more visible and more present in the lives over there and bring in help, if it’s bringing in GED classes for some of the adults, if it’s looking at job training, if it’s looking at mentoring for the kids and trying to find ways to give them an alternative to the street life that they’re learning.
“We need to save our youth.”
“I know that there are different things that we can do in our communities that we’re not doing. And one of the things is to go in and listen and pay attention and be a visible presence, not just throwing Band-Aid solutions at it, but going in and really being there and helping. There are some beautiful families over there that we’re just not paying attention to.”
Parr is excited about the development that’s going on, with new businesses springing up and property values rising, but she wants all South Knoxvillians to be treated fairly during the renaissance.
“Are we looking at the way the development is going to be an asset to what’s going on with the families that are already here? We have to look at what’s going on with affordable housing.
“I lived in Fourth & Gill with my mom when she first moved there in 1983. It was a community that was mostly rentals. There were a lot of lower-economic folks there. And it’s beautiful what’s going on there, but as we gentrify, we’re moving people out, and then we’re not really paying attention to what happens to the community that gets pushed out.”
Protecting communities and battling the opioid epidemic are Parr’s main concerns.
“I also really care about people getting involved in the political process because we don’t have a large community of voters. They come out for the big election, the federal election. . . .
“I think a lot of people don’t feel like their voice has a lot of meaning, and maybe that’s because we’re not focused on the issues or listening to what the issues are in some of our communities, and if we go in and we listen and we find out what people really care about, maybe we can bring some of that to what we’re talking about in some of our elections.”
Next up for Parr is a fundraiser 5-7 p.m. Thursday, July 13, at Candoro Marble, 4450 Candora Ave., called “Soiree Parr Excellence.” Light food and drink will be provided. Pianist Wendel Werner and guest vocalists will perform.