Gwen attracts diverse support (and fun!) at Holly’s

City Council candidate Gwen McKenzie, left, with John and Sandra Butler at her fundraiser on Tuesday.

Last week was a good one for City Council candidate Gwen McKenzie. She had a very successful — and fun! — fundraiser on Tuesday, attracting almost 100 supporters to Holly’s Gourmet’s Market in Bearden and raising more than $4,800.

She also announced that she has been endorsed by seven of her 12 former opponents for the 6th District seat, as well as by Councilman and former Knoxville Mayor Dan Brown, the current incumbent.

If McKenzie is elected to the position Nov. 7, she will be the first African-American female to hold the post in recent history. If she loses, Knoxville will, for the first time in nearly five decades, have an all-white City Council, a fact that disturbs many civic leaders who worry about the effect that would have on business recruitment.

Brandy Slaybaugh, left, who ran against McKenzie in the primary, has endorsed her and attended her fundraiser on Tuesday.

“It was an awesome week,” McKenzie said on Friday. “I am optimistic. But not overconfident. I need every vote I can get to ensure that I will have the opportunity to serve my community on City Council.”

McKenzie, a lifelong resident of Knoxville’s 6th District, has a long history of community service and she comes from a family with a history of civic involvement. She serves on the boards of the Knoxville Area Urban League and the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority.  She is a former board member of Knoxville Botanical Garden, Girl Talk, Inc., and Tanasi Girl Scout Council. 

Her volunteer work includes service to Second Harvest Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Mission of Hope, Love Kitchen, Crutcher Memorial Youth Enrichment Center, National Achievers Society and Project Ready.

She is an executive with CVS. Her husband, Sam, served two terms on the Knox County Commission and her late father, Woodrow Z. Wilson, was the founding executive director of the Knoxville Area Urban League.

Her top issues are economic development, community revitalization, programs for youth and families and community policing. She is a major supporter of downtown development.

While McKenzie had the highest number of votes in the 6th District primary where she faced 12 opponents, the race now goes citywide between her and the candidate with the second number of votes, Jennifer Montgomery. Montgomery, a real estate broker, is a pleasant woman, but she has not voted in city elections since 2011 and some of her political mailings have been paid for by the National Association of Realtors and mailed out of Chicago, a puzzling circumstance.

Early voting ends Nov. 2. Election day is Nov. 7. Please vote.

From left, Sam and Gwen McKenzie, LaTonya Terrell Upton and Dennis Upton, and Cynthia Finch.

Former Knoxville Mayor and Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe with Sam McKenzie at the Tuesday fundraiser. Ashe was on the event’s host committee.

In addition to Victor and Joan Ashe, the host committee included Sam and Jean Anderson, Ursula Bailey, former Knoxville Mayor Dan and Cathy Brown, Knox County Mayor Tim and Kelly Burchett, Juanita Cannon, former Councilman Larry and Brenda Cox, Buzz Goss, Phil Lawson, Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Phyllis and Jim Nichols, City Council member Brenda Palmer, Sylvia and Jan Peters, Jonida Robinson, former County Commissioner Thomas “Tank” and Terry Strickland, and my husband, Alan Carmichael, and me.

OMG. This is my current favorite thing that caterer Holly Hambright makes. A sundried tomato torta served with pita chips and veggies for dipping. The sad thing? I didn’t get to have a bite of it on Tuesday because we were so busy welcoming all the guests.

Host committee member Phyllis Nichols, left, with Ronni Chandler and Walter Ghosten.

Sheena McCall, left, and Ellen Bebb.

It was an awesome opportunity for mingling. We selected Bearden due to its central location for folks going home from work.

And Holly’s food! This is my second favorite thing she does: artichoke heart, caper, and parmesan pissaladiere.

Host committee member Phil Lawson, left, with Rick Dover.

McKenzie with Bonnie and Greg Marret.

Host committee member Joan Ashe and Susan Brown.

McKenzie with her campaign manager, Patricia Hammonds. “I’m quiet, but I’m good!” Hammonds quipped when I commented on how organized she was.

Gwen Brown and Victor Ashe.

From left, host committee members Juanita Cannon and Jonida Robinson with Lula Powell.

Host committee member Sam Anderson, left, with Patrick Roddy.

McKenzie addressed the crowd at about 6 p.m.

It was an excellent audience.

From left, Renee Kelly, Kim and Kent Lauth and Terry Strickland.

Former Knoxville City Councilman Larry and Brenda Cox, host committee members.

Nice to see young people like Quineka Moten getting involved.

Patricia Hammonds and Dr. James Foster.

Damon Rawls was another candidate who ran against McKenzie in the primary but now supports her.

Lemon-rosemary chicken skewers. Yum-yum.

Cathy Wilson and Juanita Cannon.

Host committee members Jean and Sam Anderson with McKenzie.

Host committee member Ursula Bailey, right, with Twuanna Munroe-Ward and Derrick Munroe.

George Tolbert with the candidate.

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9 Responses to Gwen attracts diverse support (and fun!) at Holly’s

  1. Michelle Henry, on October 30th, 2017 at 1:19 pm said:

    A great bunch of people supporting a terrific candidate. Gwen McKenzie is a true servant leader. Hope Knoxville residents will get out and vote and that 6th District residents will vote for Gwen McKenzie!

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on October 30th, 2017 at 1:23 pm said:

    Michelle: You are so right about Gwen being a servant leader. And, actually, every voter in the city has the chance to vote for her. The top 2 vote-getters in each district now run against each other citywide. Please vote, everyone!

  3. Fay Bailey Carr, on October 30th, 2017 at 2:48 pm said:

    Cynthia Thanks for sharing news about Gwen McKenzie. I saw so many of my friends there in support. Gwen can count on my vote and best of luck to her. I will try and get her a few votes.

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on October 30th, 2017 at 3:19 pm said:

    Fay: Thanks so much! I can’t wait to introduce you to Gwen. You will love her. She will do an excellent job on City Council. She’s already proven her commitment to our community through her years of volunteer service. And she is a voter, which I feel is important. I really can’t understand why someone who cares about their community would not be a regular voter. Thanks, again.

  5. Elaine and Jim Tindell, on October 30th, 2017 at 4:13 pm said:

    Fabulous gathering for one very special person. Our thanks again to you, Mox and Alan, Phyllis and Jim Nichols and all of the host committee for a gathering in support of Gwen McKenzie. I never had the chance to meet her father, but Gwen’s mother, Mama Dora as we called her was very community minded and could always be counted on in every volunteer situation that a variety of groups needed. No matter how busy Gwen was with work and church and civic events, she always joined her Mama and other family members in support of helping others. I cannot imagine a better person to represent the 6th district on City Council and I hope everybody that can vote in the city
    will support Gwen!

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on October 30th, 2017 at 4:24 pm said:

    Thanks for coming, Elaine and Jim. It was great seeing you both. Thanks for sharing those thoughts. Gwen is a very special person who truly is committed to her community.

  7. Gail Mersbach, on November 2nd, 2017 at 4:39 pm said:

    She appears to be a beautiful person and with you and John backing her and raising money for her election—I am sure she is a beautiful and a well qualified person! Love that you are involved and working hard for a cause!!! Thanks for sharing all the news from Knoxville!

  8. Cynthia Moxley, on November 3rd, 2017 at 8:27 am said:

    Gail: Thanks so much for reading! She is a good one.

  9. Cynthia Moxley, on November 3rd, 2017 at 8:31 am said:

    Followup: This was another good week for Gwen. Yesterday, Mayor Madeline Rogero endorsed her. She was the only endorsement the mayor made in the Council races. Here’s what the mayor said on her personal Facebook page:

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