City Council: Janet Testerman

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Janet Testerman (submitted)

Janet Testerman is running for Knoxville City Council At-Large Seat B.

Website: http://electtesterman.org

Biographical information:

Janet Testerman, a Knoxville native, is the CEO of Young-Williams Animal Center. Prior to joining the local nonprofit animal welfare organization, she spent nearly a decade in communications as manager of internal communication for Scripps Networks Interactive and earlier as executive editor of E.W. Scripps’ custom publications, Knoxville Magazine and skirt! Magazine. Before returning to her communications background, Janet owned and operated Testerman Cooperative Catering, a full-service, off-premise catering company for nearly eight years.

Janet has served on numerous boards including Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation (now Visit Knoxville), Bijou Theatre, Leadership Knoxville and Young-Williams for five years prior to joining the organization full time. She also rolled off recently as the Board President of Dogwood Arts.

She earned her BA in Communication from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and MA in Strategic Communication from American University in Washington, D.C. In her down time she enjoys planning her next trip, entertaining for family and friends and undertaking home projects. Married to Joey Creswell, Janet is the proud stepmother to Elie, 17, and Georgie, 15. And when she’s not catering to the needs of her Golden Retriever/Corgi mix, Buddy, and rescue Dachshund, Lollie, you can find her enjoying Knoxville’s great arts and food culture as well as bringing her passion to many of the community’s great causes.

Community and Professional Involvement

Current and Past Boards
2017-Present Animal Care and Control Association of Tennessee (ACCAT)/Secretary
2016-Present City of Knoxville Animal Control Board
2010-2018 Dogwood Arts/President
2011-2016 Young-Williams Animal Center/Vice Chair
2010-2012 Visit Knoxville (formerly Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation) Board Member and Marketing sub-committee chair
2012-2014 Leadership Knoxville Board Member (elected 2010 class representative)
2010-2012 Bijou Theatre Board Member
2007-2013 Champions for a Cause Board Member
2008-2010 Appalachian Ballet Company Board Member
2014-2016 BreastConnect.org/Co-founder/Secretary/Treasurer

Other Current/Recent Involvement
Candidate for Knoxville City Council, At-large, Seat B (Elections Aug. 27 and Nov. 5, 2019)
Candidate for 4th District Knox County Commission/2016
Campaign Treasurer for Knox County Commissioner Bob Thomas
2010-2012 Founder and Committee Co-chair of UThrive 2 Survive, a University of Tennessee Medical Center Cancer
Institute committee whose mission is to encourage a new generation of young people to get involved and give back to the community.
2013-2014 Knoxville Museum of Art event committee member for the international reveal of Richard Jolley’s multi-million dollar installation.
2015 “Dementia Aware” Purple Cities Alliance task force member
2015 American Heart Association Heart Gala live auction chair
2014 American Cancer Society Hope Gala live auction chair
2013 Hope Center “Hot Summer Nights” event committee
2011 Dogwood Arts Festival Co-chair
2013 Lead task force for Knox Heritage to determine engagement of millennials and future donors
2009-2015 Knox Heritage Summer Supper Hostess
2011-2014 “Evening in Orange” committee benefiting UT Medical Center
2010-2013 Dogwood Arts “Dogwood After Dark” committees
2012, 2014 Leadership Knoxville “Behind the Scenes” committee
2011-2014 Leadership Knoxville Homecoming committee
2013-2014 Rebuilding Together Knoxville inaugural event committee
2010 – 2015 International Biscuit Festival Judge
HABIT (Human Animal Bond in Tennessee) volunteer and former development committee co-chair
2009 “The American Table” event committee member for American Red Cross, featuring former White House
Chef Walter Scheib
2010 American Cancer Society “Mad Hatter” event committee

Professional Organizations:
Executive Women’s Association
WICT (Women in Cable Telecommunications)
Leadership Knoxville Class of 2010
Society of Animal Welfare Administrators

Honors:
2019 YWCA Tribute to Women Finalist
2019 American Cancer Society Hope Gala Honoree
Women in Cable Telecommunications Rising Leaders (2016)
Featured speaker at Advanced Learning Institute conferences on Internal Branding (Apr. and Dec. ’14, April and May ‘16)
Featured speaker at Advanced Learning Institute conference on Enterprise Gamification (Oct. ’14)
2012 YWCA Tribute to Women Finalist
Winner of three (3) 2011 Addy Awards for Knoxville Magazine
Was the subject of a year-long monthly segment about breast cancer on NBC/WBIR Channel 10
2010 featured in Southern Living Magazine about my breast cancer diagnosis
2010 “Links Fore a Cure” Honorary Chair
2009 FBI Citizens’ Academy graduate
2008 Featured speaker at Shirley Dumont Art Week at Webb School of Knoxville

Who are you and what brought you into this race?

I am a Knoxville native who has a passionate heart for our city and wants to stand with other passionate citizens to share their collective vision for growth, opportunity and establishing an inclusive culture and mindset for Knoxville.

I have given back and contributed to this city my entire life. In the last 25 years of my professional career I have helped organizations and causes and launched new initiatives that make a difference for our community. That includes my current position with Young-Williams Animal Center and changing the course of animal welfare across our area while also working to establish Young-Williams as a “no-kill” shelter for the first time in its history by achieving a 90%+ save rate. I want to take that leadership, experience and track record to the next level and help make decisions that will ensure the best quality of life for all of our residents.

How do you feel about Recode Knoxville, both as a concept for overhauling the city’s zoning code and its handling by the current administration?

I’ve met with neighborhood groups across the city and have listened to very divisive views on the issue of ReCode. I believe, as with any living, breathing document, there will never be a proposal that will support the views and feelings of 100% of the city’s constituency.

However, I feel the current city council is taking the time to think thoughtfully and methodically and go through every line item of the proposal, taking into consideration the feedback and recommendations they have received from stakeholders across the city.

As with any monumental change, there are always pluses and minuses, and ReCode will be a long-term fluid effort that will be revisited as exceptions and situations arise that could not have possibly been knowingly considered. I trust that the current council and incoming council will continue to review, listen and recognize that modifications will likely be a part of the process.

What should the Knoxville Police Department do to balance the needs of keeping the community safe without serving as an overbearing presence in communities?

To start we need to explore ways on how to better support Knoxville Police Department on recruiting efforts and resources that will promote a safer community. They are severely understaffed, which translates to potential stress, health issues and compromised decision making.

We need to ensure we are making every effort to provide them with the tools that will set them up for success as a role model agency across our region. Officers are already assigned to specific neighborhoods and report monthly updates at neighborhood association meetings, as well as tag-team with members who provide social service resources.

In fact, Scott Erland, KPD’s new Public Information Officer, is working hard to facilitate more community outreach and working in tandem with area nonprofits to create greater public engagement.

I think continued efforts in all of these areas will begin to break down barriers, promote more cross-communication and generate trust building between officers and members of the community.

Share your plan for addressing homelessness beyond the efforts which have already been tried?

I support the low-barrier shelter and day space with no restrictions that is currently in the works under the Broadway Bridge. This environment creates more opportunity to connect homeless individuals with services and case workers, who can then direct them to needed resources that address physical and mental health issues, work programs and housing options.

I would also like to see more transitional job opportunities such as KARM’s Berea program that teaches important skill sets, establishes accountability and creates financial incentives for individuals to ultimately become self-sustaining. This means that we have to continue to pursue more housing options.

I support continued investment in the Affordable Housing Fund and greater collaboration between both governments, housing authorities, private sector affordable housing developers and service providers.

Would you ever support a property tax increase?

I would not support a tax increase until every other option had been exhausted and budgets had been thoroughly reviewed to identify areas for cost savings.

However, we have companies changing or divesting in Knoxville, so we need to start closing those gaps and creating new business opportunities in order to maintain and expand our tax base.

This includes supporting our entrepreneurs with tools, training and resources for start-ups to, not just help them launch, but to be sustainable and realize both long-time dreams and long-term success. Smart economic growth is also key to job opportunities but will also provide the tax base funding we need to support our social services addressing the challenges of mental health, the opioid crisis, affordable housing and homelessness.

What is your vision for the City of Knoxville in the 4 / 8 years ahead?

Our city is at a crossroads of change with a number of newly elected officials as well as new community leaders who are in positions to affect real change. These include a new county mayor, new city mayor, CEO of Knoxville Chamber, University of Tennessee Chancellor, TVA President and CEO, KUB President and CEO and perhaps a new University of Tennessee President over the next few years.

That said, all of these individuals have new, ambitious visions, and my hope is that we can facilitate a round table with these new leaders and members of city council to better understand their ideas, the direction they see us moving in, and discuss where we want our city to be in 5, 10 and 20 years.

I also want to ensure we are being mindful and inclusive while finding solutions. Every citizen must be considered when making decisions that impact the entire city because every quadrant of the city is facing different needs and issues.

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