Monday, February 8, 2016

Williams seeking GOP delegate seat

From Susan Williams: As you know, the Tennessee primary for selecting the Republican nominee for President of the US is on March 1 and early voting begins this week, Feb. 10.

It is a long ballot with the presidential candidates all listed first and then the delegates who are running for the candidates are listed below those names, beginning with the delegates running statewide first and following those names you will find the names of folks running in the Second Congressional district as delegates.

I am one of those! Since I am running as a delegate committed to Jeb Bush, I think my name is fourth under the Second Congressional District list.

The really interesting thing is that you don't have to vote for Jeb Bush (even though I would like you too) to vote for me as a delegate.

You can vote for Kasich or Trump or Rubio or anyone who's still standing on March 1 and still vote for me for delegate.

I would greatly appreciate it! I've been to 7 Conventions and feel very qualified to represent Tennessee well. Thanks for your help!

(As always, shoot the ol' Porch your political stuff for publication consideration.)

Officials to turn dirt on schools

A number of Knox County leaders, including the mayor, schools superintendent, commissioners and school board members, will formally break ground at the sites of the new Gibbs and Hardin Valley middle schools next week.

Both groundbreakings will take place Tuesday with the Gibbs event happening at 11 a.m. and the Hardin Valley event at 1 p.m.

Parking for the Gibbs Middle School groundbreaking will be very limited on-site, so members of the public planning to attend are asked to park at Gibbs Ruritan Park, 7827 Tazewell Pike, and take a shuttle to the event location. Shuttles will begin running at 10 a.m.

The Hardin Valley Middle School groundbreaking will take place in the north parking lot, behind Hardin Valley Academy, near the baseball field. Attendees are asked to park in the parking lot between the baseball field and the retention pond. 

If schools are close that day because of bad weather, the groundbreakings will be rescheduled.

Knox Co. Democratic Party to host March 5 delegate selection caucus

The Knox County Democratic Party will host its Democratic Party County Delegate Selection Caucus on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at West High School’s Gym on Sutherland Avenue.

This caucus will elect Knox County delegates who will then join candidates from the other counties in the second congressional district on March 19 to elect the delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The doors open at noon and the event is open to all registered voters in Knox County who support the Democratic Party, and those who agree to support the nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2016 Presidential election.

Information about becoming a DNC delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and the rules governing the DNC Delegate Selection process may be obtained from Additionally, the Knox County Democratic Party has more information on the process RIGHT SMACK HERE.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hensley to face Kane for House seat

Democrat Heather Hensley today announced her candidacy for the 89th District state House seat currently held by Republican Roger Kane.

Primaries are set for August. The general election will be held in November.

Her release below:
I have lived in Knoxville for over 15 years. I have been a Registered Nurse for almost four years, and I have been married to my loving and supportive husband Chris for a little more than 7 years. As a nurse, I have been honored to care for many individuals and their families, and I am troubled by the fact that so many of our citizens are struggling to find primary care providers because no one accepts the type of insurance they have. Receiving degrees from Pellissippi State Community College, Tennessee Wesleyan College, and Tennessee Tech University, along with being a former nursing clinical instructor at TN Wesleyan, I recognize how important education is to our young people and their families. Across the educational spectrum, teachers need our support! They are the trained experts in their field and we should be listening to what they have to say.

Furthermore, we need to encourage individuals to pursue opportunities outside of the traditional four year degree. We need welders, electricians, plumbers, and members of other trades as I believe the secret of improving and empowering individuals to rise above circumstance is to give them the tools to do so. Additionally, our Knoxville economic system has two of the greatest assets of the Southeast with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee, yet we still have a 6% unemployment rate when the national average is dipping under 5 1/2. My plan is to bring appropriate funds back to us for our health, schools, jobs, environment & growth.

I would be honored to serve as your next State House Representative of District 89 because I acknowledge that many individuals feel like they have nothing to contribute to the decision making process. Please feel free to contact me to give me your comments as I look to hear your concerns firsthand. Take care, God bless, and Go Vols! 
As always, send you political stuff for publication consideration.

BOE candidates raising big bucks

Contested races for the part-time Knox County school board seats are again drawing big bucks from many of the candidates’ supporters.

At this point, though, the contests probably won’t set any local Board of Education fund-raising records.

Still, two candidates raised well over $20,000 headed into the March 1 primaries and secured donations from some of Knoxville’s biggest players, including local politicians, businessmen and developers.

As it stands, four of the nine Board of Education seats are up for election this year, but only two are contested. The part-time seat pays roughly $21,500 a year, and members are tasked with helping the superintendent oversee an annual budget of more than $420 million.

The reporting period for the financial disclosures, which were due Monday, covers July 1, 2015 through Jan. 15.

Here’s a snapshot of the races:

2nd District: In what is billed by a number of political observers as a “David and Goliath” contest, candidate Grant Standefer has raised the most of any candidate – $29,600.

His opponent, Jennifer Owen, has secured only $525, which is less than 2 percent of the total Standefer took in.

More than half of Standefer’s contributions are for more than $1,500, and come from a number of well-known local names.

For example, his supporters include Raja Jubran, CEO of Denark Construction; Pilot Corporation founder Jim Haslam and his wife, Natalie; PetSafe CEO and state economic and community development Commissioner Randy Boyd and his wife; and David Schmid of RLS Logistics.

In addition, outgoing school board member Doug Harris and his wife each donated $1,500.
Standefer has spent just under $3,200 during the filing period with most of it paid to Targeted Strategy for consulting and campaign photos.

Owen has spent $122, most of it on a voter database and postage.

5th District: Buddy Pelot has raised the second most of any candidate, bringing in $23,750. He has not spent any of it so far. Most of the same big names that contributed to Standefer also donated to Pelot.

One opponent, Susan Horn, raised $5,105 and spent $1,262. The third candidate in the race, Lori Boudreaux, has raised almost $3,300 and spent $2,340.

No one challenged Tony Norman, a retired biology teacher and former Knox County commissioner, for the 3rd District seat.

He reported raising $3,550 and spending no money, according to his finance summary. Yet, he recorded disbursements of almost $2,700, including payments for a reception and advertising.

In addition, no one challenged Mike McMillan, also a retired teacher, for the 8th District seat.

McMillan, the only incumbent seeking re-election, raised only $450, the least amount of any of the candidates.

The most amount raised and spent in a Knox County school board race, according to a WBIR 10News analysis, was in 2014 by Tracie Sanger – a whopping total of $57,200.

Prior to that, Doug Harris raised and spent $46,600 in 2012.

Burchett named honorary member to Vol. State Veterans Honor Guard

The Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard today recognized Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett as an honorary member of the organization. 

A small group of members presented him with a plaque and patch in his office.

According to their website, “The Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard was assembled to offer our last tribute of respect and affection to our departed comrades by providing military funeral honors to all East Tennessee county veterans who are honorably discharged, without regard to rank, sex, color, creed, or national origin.”

The honorary membership the mayor received is for members of the community who don’t qualify to join the group, but are outstanding supporters and advocates for veterans, officials said.

(Photo by Michael Grider. From left, Joyce LeTellier, Herb Kraehmer, Bob LeTellier, Tim Burchett, Dave Caldwell and Carl McCarter.)

Ed & Bob Show heads to Corryton

Knox County commissioners Ed Brantley and Bob Thomas are headed back to Corryton for their next "Ed & Bob Night Out in Knox County" hob-nob event on Feb. 17.

The two will be at Henry's Bakery & Deli at 7231 Tazewell Pike, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to meet the people of north Knox County and listen to their concerns.

According to their release:
Ed and Bob feel that going out TO the people eases the strain on those who, because of work, commitments, financial situation or the distance to the City-County Building, cannot attend regular commission meetings. All elected officials, media and public are welcome to attend. This is not a commission meeting. There is no agenda. There will be no votes taken. And while you're there join Ed & Bob as they have one of Henry's Famous "Build Your Own" deli sandwiches!

PBA review: Courthouse doors wrongly locked early, barring registrations

An investigation Tuesday showed the doors of the Old Knox County Courthouse were locked early by a Public Building Authority officer, preventing voter registration applications from being filed before deadline.

As a result of the "very unusual set of circumstances," according to Knox County Administrator of Elections Cliff Rodgers, the 13 voter registration applications that were to be submitted Monday afternoon will be accepted for review.

Also, authorities will "preserve evidence" in the case should the registrations later become an issue in any election, Rodgers said.

Previous story and more detail RIGHT HERE.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Knox County to revisit talks about safety center for mentally ill

The Knox County Commission is again revisiting plans to develop a safety center that houses and treats the mentally ill who are arrested for nonviolent crimes, and this time local leaders say they expect something to get done.

For years, officials have engaged in on-again-off-again talks to build such a facility, but proposals often have fallen through because of funding.

However, a handful of commissioners and several representatives from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office plan to hold a short public meeting on Friday to iron out some of the details. Then on Feb. 16, the full commission will talk more during a special meeting.

A week later – and during its regular monthly voting meeting on Feb. 22 – the board is expected to start the bidding process to determine who could operate such a facility.

“This is something that the commission wants to do but we need to get this right,” Commissioner Randy Smith said. “We only get one shot. If we throw something together and it falls on its face and fails, then we will lose the trust of the public. “

County leaders have long talked about building a facility to combat jail overcrowding at the Maloneyville Road detention center, and help those with mental health issues get the care they need. But, commissioners say they need the county, state and city to each chip in $1 million to get the operation up and running.

The county set aside its share several years, but the state and city have often hesitated to commit.

The county years ago even accepted bids to build and operate a center but only Helen Ross McNabb submitted a proposal. No action was taken regarding that submission.

Officials, however, say it will be different this time around.

“I would be shocked if we don’t move forward on this,” commission Vice Chairman Bob Thomas said. “I have stressed to everyone that we need to get it done and I think everyone agrees. I feel confident that in the coming 12 months we’re going to move forward.”

Rest of story HERE.

Johnson to seek state House seat

Former state Rep. Gloria Johnson today announced that she plans to run for the 13th District state House seat she held for two years prior to Republican Eddie Smith defeating her in 2014.

In a news release issued today, Johnson, a Democrat, focused, in part, on some 280,000 Tennesseans who don't have health care and roughly 100,000 students who "woke up again as special interests try to cut funding form public education."

She said:
Our neighbors deserve a Representative who will wake up every single day, committed with dogged determination to stand up and fight for Tennessee's working families who deserve better. Our children deserve fully funded public education where all kids have an opportunity to succeed, Tennessee's women deserve equal pay for equal work, and our 280,000 uninsured neighbors should not lose everything they have worked hard for just because they get sick.
The state primary is set for early August.

As always, send your political stuff to the ol' Porch for publication consideration.

Monday, February 1, 2016

John Kasich to serve as keynote speaker as GOP Lincoln Day Dinner

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla, 2016 Getty Images)
Presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be the featured guest speaker for this year's Knox County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

The fund-raising event is set for Feb. 27 at Rothchild Catering & Conference Center on Kingston Pike, according to Knox County GOP Treasurer Nick McBride.

Tickets are $35 and reserved tables, which can seat 10, are $1,000. The center can hold 1,200 people.

Tickets will be available on a first come, first serve basis starting Thursday, and folks can buy them from Republican office holders and GOP party leaders.

The Lincoln Day Dinner is an annual Knox County GOP fund-raising event.

“To be able to do this before the Super Tuesday primary, I’m just excited to do it,” said Knox County GOP

Chairman Buddy Burkhardt.” Even if Kasich is not in the race by then, he will be able to stump for the man he supports."

Burkhardt said he expects an appearance from a  "big name" like Kasich  to help generate interest here in Tennessee for the state’s March 1 election.

Last year, the Lincoln Day Dinner featured Haley Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former Mississippi governor.

The event also has featured former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Monday last day to register to vote for presidential, Knox primaries

Time is running out to register for the 2016 presidential and Knox County primary elections.

Tennessee voters need to register by Monday, Feb. 1, if they want to participate.

“Every time that the national election comes along, everybody gets re-energized," League of Women Voters committee member Helen Tews said. "People want to be able to vote in November, and if they want to select which candidate for which party, both nationally and locally, they have to start voting in these primaries.”

A few key things to establish before voting:
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen. You must also be a Tennessee resident to vote in the state.
  • You must have a state or federally issued photo I.D.
Early voting starts Feb. 10.

“On election day, Mar. 1, the lines will be long," Tews said. "If you wait till that day, we expect a large turnout.”

If you have not registered yet, you can print out an application form on the Knox County election website.

If you don't remember if you've registered, you can check that, too.

It also shows polling locations and other information about upcoming elections.

The final day to register for the 2016 Knox County general election is July 5. Election Day is Aug. 4.

The last day to register to vote in the 2016 presidential general election is Oct. 11, and the election is on Nov. 8.