Monday, March 30, 2015

Brooks hopes to give voters an option during next year's local elections

Cameron Brooks
Knox County Commission posts are typically decided in the GOP primary, but one local leader expects that to change next year.

Cameron Brooks, who was elected Saturday to a two-year term as the Knox County Democratic Party’s chairman, said he’ll begin working to find challengers to take on Republican incumbents in the general election.

In addition, he said his party will focus on regaining the state House District 13 seat, which the Democrats lost last year to Republicans.

“I think we got clobbered in the last race,” he said. “You can sulk and you can point fingers and have a lot of internal dissention and waste time, or you can move forward.”

Knox County holds next year’s local primaries in May and the general election in August. Seven of the 11 seats on the County Commission are up.

Brooks, who works as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace Realtors, said he’ll help continue to build the party, first at the precinct level and then at the district level, focusing, in part, on younger voters.

“We want to show voters that Democrats are about good government, responsible government and improving people’s lives, and if you can be persistent with that, then we’ll be able to turn things around,” he said.

The GOP has a stranglehold on politics at the county level, and often Democrats decline to challenge for an open office.

For example, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, the county’s highest elected leader, failed to garner any opposition last year. Nor did Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones. In addition, the Democrats failed to field a candidate in the District Attorney General’s contest – and Democrats held that seat for decades.

Democrats have a little more control in the city – Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero is a Democrat – although the elections are non-partisan.

"We’re going to be really aggressive about recruiting candidates for the County Commission offices coming up in August 2016,” he said. “There’s quite a few seats that are going to be available. We really need to get quality Democrats to run and give voters an option.”

Knox County holds next year's local primaries in March and the general election in August. Seven of the County Commission's 11 seats are up.

Brooks, a former Knox County election commissioner who served as his party’s vice chairman before taking over, succeeds Linda Haney.

On Saturday, the party during its biennial reorganization meeting also appointed Jackie Clay, a program manager with the city of Knoxville, to serve as vice chair.

Shannon Webb was elected to the party’s treasurer post and Emily Gregg was re-appointed to her seat as secretary.

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