If you stepped into the bright and noisy rooftop lounge at the downtown Hyatt Place hotel last night, you might have known you were at a political event — if only by the number of politicians present. But you would not have known the political persuasion of the candidate — Lynne Fugate, who is seeking re-election to her at-large seat on Knoxville City Council.
This is how it should be. City races are non-partisan. And Fugate is held in high esteem by prominent members of both parties, as evidenced by the names on her host committee.
You didn’t see red colors dominating the décor, the symbol of the Republican Party. Nor did you see Democratic party blue anywhere. Fugate has chosen green as her campaign’s official color. Not only is it politically neutral, but it also is the trademark color of her employer, Girl Scouts of the USA, where she serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians, which spans three states and 46 counties.
“Lynne does the right thing,” said former Knoxville Vice Mayor Finbarr Saunders in introducing her. “She always thinks of the citizens of Knoxville when she makes her decisions.” Saunders is a popular Democrat who has served on Knox County Commission, as well as City Council and numerous other civic organizations.
Fugate had a long career in banking and also was executive director of “Nine Counties. One Vision,” a regional strategic planning initiative.
“I love this city,” she said when she took the microphone last night. “I am running because I believe in Knoxville, and I believe that people who are willing to work together can accomplish big dreams.”
This is a refreshing attitude — especially compared to efforts of many local partisans to infuse party politics into even non-partisan races.
In addition to serving on City Council, Fugate served on the Knox County Board of Education for eight years and held the posts of chair and vice chair. Several of her colleagues from that board attended last night, including Virginia Babb, who opted not to seek re-election to the Board of Education when those positions became partisan for the first time this year.
“I hope my record shows that I am willing to work with anyone for the best for our city,” Fugate told the enthusiastic crowd. “Working together is the only way.”
I guess city election season has officially started with Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon launching her re-election campaign earlier this month. Actually, candidates for mayor, City Council and municipal judge have until May 18, 2023, to turn in their qualifying petitions. Primary election day is Aug. 29, followed by the general election on Nov. 7. So, there’s plenty of time for folks to throw their hats in the ring.
“Please don’t tell me, ‘You’ve got this in the bag,’ ” Fugate pleaded. “Because that’s when people don’t vote!”
These folks were on the host committee for this event: Brenda Anderson, Virginia Babb, Steve and Ann Bailey, Julia and Gary Bentley, Jerry and Ann Bodie, David Butler, Ashley Capps and Birgitta Clark, Billy and Jill Carroll, Dino Cartwright and Mitchell Moseley, Larry and Brenda Cox, Gloria and Mark Deathridge, Randall DeFord and Wes Goddard, Rick and Laurie Dover, John Gill and Margie Nichols, Tom and Kathie Goldsby, Tim Graham, Duane and Marsha Grieve, Holly Hambright, Jim and Natalie Haslam, Jacque and Cliff Hawks, Mark and Laura Heinz, Daryl and Polly Johnson, Nadim Jubran, Jeff Lee, Cynthia Moxley and Alan Carmichael, Alvin Nance, Sharon and Joe Pryse, Grant Rosenberg, Finbarr Saunders and Ellen Bebb, Marshall and Natalie Stair, Kim Trent, George and Stephanie Wallace, Stephanie Welch, and Doug and Melissa White.