The city’s general election is Nov. 5, and when the votes are counted Eddie Mannis will become Knoxville’s mayor-elect.
Against a different opponent for a different job, Indya Kincannon’s undisguised wonkiness might not have mattered, might even have been an asset. It didn’t prevent her winning election to the Knox County school board and serving as chair for 10 years, but we expect some degree of intellectualism in those with close ties to education, even if we don’t always get it.
Mannis’ walls are not decorated with degrees, yet he is summa cum laude in accomplishments more easily appreciated by the average voter. Is your desk job getting you down? Work in a dry-cleaning establishment for a week, preferably in summer, to get some perspective. Your white collar will turn blue before you know it.
It’s a humbling experience. Mannis turned that experience into a business career so successful he could afford to turn his attention to public service.
Veterans vote and Mannis’ name is forever linked to HonorAir, the organization he established to fly veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials to their service. Mannis claims one of four life memberships in the state to Vietnam Veterans of America.
He’s been tireless in community service. The Knoxville Sertoma Club, PBS, the Medal of Honor Society, the FBI, Covenant Health (for senior advocacy) and others have honored his contributions.
Mannis served as Mayor Madeline Rogero’s deputy and chief operating officer for two years. Rogero may have been protecting her flank from a 2015 challenge, but he will not enter the office as a political novice.
Kincannon also logged time in the mayor’s office. She monitored grants to nonprofits and made recommendations to Rogero for various board appointments.
She courted controversy during her time on the school board by supporting the policies of an increasingly unpopular superintendent, James McIntyre. She admits to more than one “regret,” as she told Sandra Clark last August:
“I regret not listening to teachers more and respecting them as professionals. I regret not trying to fight back when state and federal mandates hurt kids. I regret the teacher evaluations that tried to quantify things numerically that can’t be quantified.”
Public school teachers are as politically attentive as any professional – their livelihoods are at the mercy of politicians. Many will recall the reasons for Kincannon’s regrets on Nov. 5. If Mannis is troubled by regrets, he isn’t saying so publicly.
Mannis is not the GOP candidate or the “county” candidate any more than Kincannon is the Democratic or “city” candidate. The election is non-partisan. Kincannon is highly regarded in several city neighborhoods, but both candidates have supporters across the city and county.
What’s essential in a city council race, neighborhood support, could create a false sense of security for a mayoral candidate. You can live anywhere in the county you’d like and cast a vote in the city mayor’s race if you own real property in the city. See you at the polls.
Larry Van Guilder is the business/government editor for KnoxTNToday.