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.
“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.
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.