Madeline Rogero is heading for a month-long vacation when Indya Kincannon is sworn in as Knoxville mayor at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Bijou Theatre. Rogero deserves the break.
The last few months have been hectic as our town’s first female mayor finalized projects started during her eight years in office. She’s got a record to tout, and with a master’s degree in urban planning she should be in demand as a consultant. Heck, she can “recode” towns near and far.
Rogero tackled tough problems like pollution in Fountain City Lake. Lesser mortals might have surrendered to duck poop and stagnation. But Rogero engineered and landscaped and drained the swamp (literally). She has restored Fountain City’s centerpiece. (If one of the six candidates to succeed her had asked, I would have advocated for a campaign promise to put a dispensable city employee in a rowboat with a net and instructions to scoop algae each morning to keep it clean. No one asked.)
She achieved a positive referendum vote for pension reform – not an easy task. And when a certain former mayor criticized her plan for not going far enough, she told the press and public the details of his own city pension which will outlive him to provide a lifetime pension to his young daughter.
Rogero collaborated with Overcoming Believers to develop The Change Center – a safe place where young teens can hang out after school and older ones can gain valuable job skills. When fund-raising stalled, she personally solicited a quarter-million dollars from a major company. The CEO told me about the gift; Rogero allowed others to share the credit.
She told the North Knox Rotary Club a few years back that she was building on the vision of her predecessor, Bill Haslam. It’s funny, she said, that he’s the businessperson and I’m the planner. Yet Haslam laid the plan for downtown redevelopment, followed by redevelopment of the major corridors into the city. Rogero helped create that plan, probably, as Haslam’s director of community development. Then she stepped in and executed many of those visions.
So, thank you, Mayor Rogero. There’s money in the bank and none of your subordinates have been impeached or jailed. Is Knoxville better off today than eight years ago? Absolutely.
Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of KnoxTNToday.com.