Less than three months ago Charles Susano, Jr. was elected at Knox County’s Circuit Court Clerk, making him one of the county’s newest officials. Charlie, as he likes to be called, had served five years as Collector Coordinator and legal assistant to the Knox County Trustee.
Recently The Focus sat down with Susano for a chat so that you, our readers, can get to know him beyond his duties. As part of our “Getting To Know” series, we asked him many of the same questions we’ve asked other notable people in our community.
How is your position working out for you?
It’s working great. I think as a newly elected official when you come in you are facing challenges, bringing in new ideas and often bringing in new people. The previous clerk, Cathy Shanks, served for 20 years, it’s a 20 year culture. These people know what they are doing, they are good hard workers.
We’re about two months in on the job and things don’t move quite as fast and you’d want them to sometimes, but you learn patience.
How is your position affecting your family or other interests?
Since I’ve been in county government for a little while there’s been little change. There was a large change on the campaign trail. In my family we adjust to each other, whatever the changes are we’re in this life together and all that comes with it.
Tell me a little bit about your family.
My wife’s name is Robin. We met in the early 1990s. I worked at the legendary Disc Exchange in South Knoxville. She worked at a coffee shop called “Java” in the Old City. We were both UT students and began dating in 1994 and got married in 1996. My kids are Sophie, 16, and Jacob, 14, just great kids. They both go to Knoxville Catholic High School as I did. I would go back in a second, those were wonderful days.
Mom and Dad have been married over 50 years. Our lives are so much a part of Knoxville. Mom worked at the News Sentinel and Dad was an attorney here.
Mom would sit at the street side window at the old News Sentinel and Dad would come by and see her. They had a mutual friend and he asked about her. They set them up and they’ve been together ever since. He was an attorney for 30 plus years and was appointed to the State Appeals Court and, to my knowledge, is the longest serving appeals court judge in Tennessee.
How did your family come to Knox County?
My grandparents moved down here in 1933 and my grandfather went to work for TVA. He was a chemist and helped build Norris Dam. In 1944 he went to work at the National Labs in Oak Ridge. They came from Southwestern Pennsylvania and we’ve been here nearly 90 years.
What do you think of a metro form of government for the county and city in the future?
That’s a good question and has been asked a lot. That is something that would have to be legislated. I try to stay clear of matters like that. My opinion doesn’t matter—what matters is the law and I learned that from my father very early on.
What is your hobby or your main interest in your private life?
I love collecting antiques. I call it “above ground treasure hunting.” I’ve been doing it my entire life. My mother was an antique dealer. I love the hunting, the finding, the going out and looking for stuff. I am a true “picker.” And I love music, I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old and I’ve been known to hop up on stage from time to time. I’ve even sat in with the Chillbllies before.
When someone meets you for the first time how do you think they see you?
How I hope they see me is a person who truly cares about each person. To me everyone matters. When I meet someone I always try to leave them better off than when I found them.
If you had one thing to do over in your life what would that be?
I would have listened to my mother and continued playing piano. Music makes the world go round and although I’m an accomplished guitar player I wish I had stuck it out on the old keys.
What’s the one thing about your position you find the most satisfying?
That I have the opportunity and duty to serve all the people of Knox County. I was given the opportunity to take that oath. I take great pride in that. This is the ultimate customer-service opportunity. We manage and maintain all court related documents except for criminal court.
What’s your favorite meal or place to eat?
You’re putting me on the spot. We eat out a lot. I love the Tomato Head as much as any restaurant I’ve eaten out. I eat there about three times a week. Their Tomato Chipotle Soup is the finest soup ever created. And I eat at Wasabi’s and other restaurants also.