There’s a reason why Calvin Taylor Skinner looks and sounds like a Baptist preacher. The candidate for Knoxville mayor is one. Skinner has joined his father, the Rev. Dr. Johnnie Skinner, at Mount Zion Baptist Church where the younger Skinner is an associate pastor and administrative assistant.
The Skinner family moved here from Dayton, Ohio, in June 1991, when Dr. Skinner answered the call to become Mount Zion’s pastor. Calvin Skinner grew up here. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in journalism and left Knoxville in 2003 to attend seminary. He’s held jobs with non-profits and advocacy groups in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and returned home in 2017.
In an interview Wednesday, he said he’s running for mayor because Knoxville has been limited in representation with “very few allowed to sit at the table.”
His campaign is about letting people know the power of their voice and the power of representation, he said. “From a business perspective, look at the 1,400 companies that are thriving. All are inclusive; they ensure diversity.”
Despite Mayor Madeline Rogero’s promotion of Eve Thomas to be police chief, Skinner says there is “very limited representation” of women and people of color throughout the ranks of KPD. And he said of city money allocated for projects, only a small percent goes to minority contractors.
Skinner’s financial disclosure, filed July 10, shows only $1,100 raised – from just two donors, both from Texas. He says his next disclosure will show local contributors, but said his campaign is a grassroots effort. “Only a few people can give big donations.”
His strategy for making the run-off is simple. While his five opponents scramble after the same people who typically vote in city elections, his campaign will make a major push with non-traditional voters, with young voters. “There’s renewed energy with those demographics and groups,” he said.
“We’re going to surprise some people.”
Skinner’s hope for Knoxville is based on his experience in D.C. “The nation is looking for a model city. Knoxville can lead in making sure we expand representation. We want to be in the headlines for things that will bring healing.”
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Money static as administrators change
Last Friday, Betty Bean reported on the last-minute swap of Farragut principal Ryan Siebe for former Bearden High principal John Bartlett. We wondered if Siebe got a raise. Here’s the word from Knox County Schools:
Ryan Siebe’s annual salary as Farragut High School principal for school year 2019-2020 was $110,507. Other than receiving a travel supplement of $5 per day (i.e. $1,275 per year), his salary will remain unchanged in his new role as HR staffing supervisor.
John Bartlett’s annual salary as supervisor of secondary education for school year 2019-2020 was $118,185. His salary will remain unchanged in his new role as Farragut High School principal and (systemwide) director of leadership development.
Stair gets endorsements
Marshall Stair has received endorsements for mayor from:
- Daniel Brown, former council member and Knoxville mayor, who said Stair “has a good heart for the people.”
- Tank Strickland, former Knox County Commission chair, who called Stair “innovative, smart and progressive.”
- Mark Campen, current member of city council: “He is honest, energetic and ready to serve. Marshall is an effective, bi-partisan leader ready to face our collective challenges as a city.”
Smith proposes KPD bonus
Hubert Smith, candidate for city council, at-large Seat C, proposes to take $500,000 from the city’s general fund to give each sworn KPD officer a one-time bonus of $1,700.
“When people say, ‘It’s not about the money,’ they are wrong. It’s always about the money! I believe this will go a long way (toward police retention). The city can afford it. What we can’t afford as a rapidly growing city is to keep losing officers at current rate. The police department is authorized for 417 sworn officers; it has currently 376.”
Smith also picked up endorsements from Diane Jordan, former county commissioner, and Robert “Bob” Booker, historian and former state legislator.