A good-natured and diverse crowd gathered in the sweltering heat last Thursday to eat, dance, pray and pick up signs at the kickoff of Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie’s re-election campaign for her 6th District City Council seat.
According to food vendors who collected tickets, more than 300 people attended throughout the two-hour event held at Eternal Life Plaza on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. WJBE “Jammin’ 99.7” provided tunes throughout the event.
This election is important to me, not only because Gwen and her husband, State Rep. Sam McKenzie, are friends of Alan and me, but also because Knoxville’s future will be seriously impacted by the results of Council races this year. We happen to live in the 6th District. McKenzie is opposed by a far-left candidate backed by the City Council Movement and a hard-right candidate supported by the anti-mask, anti-Health Department and anti-government funding Scruffy Little City PAC.
Alan and I believe that, although Knoxville certainly has its problems, it is basically a wonderful place to live and has been moving in the right direction for decades, getting better and better under moderate leaders of both political parties. The Council races are technically non-partisan.
Vice Mayor McKenzie, a lifelong resident of the 6th District, was elected to City Council in 2017 when she faced 12 opponents for the post. Her colleagues on Council chose her to be vice mayor, making her the first African American woman to hold that post in the history of Knoxville.
She is executive director of Legacy Housing Foundation, a nonprofit providing programs for seniors, people with disabilities and families in affordable housing communities. She serves on the boards of the Knoxville Area Urban League, Zoo Knoxville, World United Ministries, Girl Talk, Inc., and Next Step Initiative. She is a graduate of the 2020 class of Leadership Knoxville.
My favorite two things that Vice Mayor McKenzie has done since being elected are spearheading the movement to ban gun shows on city-owned property and forming the Faith Leaders’ Initiative, a group of religious leaders that weighs in on pressing community issues including COVID-19 and gun violence.
It was fun to see so much support for Vice Mayor McKenzie on Thursday evening. I encourage everyone to vote in the upcoming City Primary. Early voting starts Aug. 11, and election day itself is Aug. 30.
Here’s that video I mentioned: