Five very active Knoxville City Council members will be leaving office this year due to term limits. The Focus has asked each member a few questions about their years on the council.
Compiled by Mike Steely.
Brenda Palmer represents the Third District and serves as Chair of the Knoxville Beer Board. She is also on the Audit Committee, the Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the KUG Tree Trim Board, the Zoo Knoxville board and served on the Knox County Board of Equalization.
Palmer is a graduate of the University of San Diego, Baldwin Wallace College and holds a Paralegal Certificate from the University of Tennessee. In her professional life she has served as a curriculum specialist and trainer, an education reform leader, a teacher, adjunct instructor, high school activities director and as a grant writer and administrator.
What is the most memorable event or vote you had on City Council?
Three votes stand out as quite memorable. First, was the vote to make the pension plan sustainable by correcting the funding and processes. All stakeholders were involved which made the issue more manageable to address. Second, supporting the Hilltop/Ridges/Slopes recommendation to protect our ridges and hilltops from developers who want to cut and slash sent a message about what we value. The third vote, Council representative to TPO, stopped the James White Parkway, a proposal that had languished for more than half a century.
Please comment about public participation at Council Meetings.
Public participation is important for Council to hear all sides of issues. Those who come to public forum should be sure their concern is something City Council, a legislative body, can address.
Would moving the Council Meetings to 5 p.m. help and why?
Moving Council meetings to 5 p.m. looks good on paper but raises some question about the access of public participation. Keeping the 6 p.m. meeting gives both Council members and the public an opportunity to get to the meetings after work.
What positions on an item have you altered your view?
The Behavioral Center has been discussed for as long as I have served on Council. Everyone agrees there is a need but location has been an area of serious conversation. After I talked with Jerry Vegnier at Helen Ross McNabb and understood what the Behavioral Center was and was not, I supported the location. I anticipate that once the Behavioral Center is up and running, most of the angst will dissipate.
What are your possible future plans?
At this time, my plan is to focus on writing and rediscovering some hobbies I have neglected over the past years. Being involved in politics as a supporter, not a candidate, will no doubt gain my attention.
What will you miss the most?
No single activity stands out was one I will miss most. Mostly, I have enjoyed serving the people of Knoxville and would not trade the eight years. I do strongly believe term limits are important so fresh ideas can help our city continue to move forward.
What advice would you have for the future council member?
Be open to ideas and examine the big picture impact of the issue before Council. The loudest voices represent a group with an agenda, not necessarily the majority of constituents-be aware of the voices you do not hear. Be aware that without economic development, neighborhoods cannot be sustainable to the quality of life we all want.
Are you supporting a candidate in the primary election?
Four people are running for my seat-the same number as when I ran eight years ago. Each candidate brings strengths and weaknesses. It is important to examine whether or not the candidate understands the relationship between economic development and neighborhood preferences: the two are quite interdependent.