Bob Thomas is running for Knoxville City Council At-Large Seat C.
Former Vice Chairman of Knox County Commissioner Bob Thomas represented everyone in Knox County as one of two At-Large Commissioners on the Knox County Commission 2014-18. He has been a successful broadcaster as well as business entrepreneur and owner.
• Bob began his broadcasting career when he was a teenager. While at WIVK he had the highest-rated midday radio show in America for 16 years. He has worked in radio more than 30 years. Most recently, he co-hosted one of East Tennessee’s most popular morning talk shows, the Ed and Bob Show with Ed Brantley. They currently have a podcast with two shows per week that is available on Apple Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.
• Bob has served in the Knoxville community for decades. He revived the Knoxville Christmas Parade in the 70s and then served as its chairman for 16 years. He was recognized by the Mayor has one of the top volunteers in Knoxville.
• For five years he served on the Board of the Cerebral Palsy Center for Handicapped Adults with two years as its President during the construction of the Group Home.
• Bob was instrumental in bringing professional hockey back to Knoxville in the late 80’s as the owner of the Knoxville Cherokees, gaining affiliations with the Edmonton Oilers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. For 8 years he promoted over 300 games at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum bringing in over $25M to the Knoxville economy.
• The East Coast Hockey League is now the most successful minor hockey league in US history. Bob was one of the original five owners and served as the Expansion Committee Chairman during the league’s greatest growth.
• Bob is married to Kim Simmons Thomas, a former TV anchor in Knoxville. They have three children and six grandchildren.
Metro Drug Coalition
Board Dogwood Arts Festival Board
Young-Williams Animal Center Board and Executive Committee
American Cancer Society Board
Arts & Culture Alliance Board and Executive Committee
Cerebral Palsy Center for Handicapped Adults – 5 years, 2 as President
Former Chairman, Knox County Cable TV Committee
Knox County Pension & Retirement Committee
Knox County Parks & Recreation Board
Community Television Board
Thompson-Boling Arena Use Committee
Served two years on the Knox County Development Corp Board
Who are you and what brought you into this race?
I love Knoxville. I grew up here. I went to school here. I have been involved for a long time. When I was 21 I read there wasn’t going to be a Christmas Parade in Knoxville because there was no one to sponsor it.
I put together the first All-Volunteer Christmas Parade and went on to be the parade chairman for 20 years.
I thought hockey could survive in Knoxville and helped bring it back to town then owned the Knoxville Cherokees from 1988-96.
I was previously on Knox County Commission from 2014-2018. I have been involved in that budget of $825M for four years. Knoxville budget is less than half of that. I feel with all my experience in business, on boards and in government I can contribute quickly to the future of our city. I am concerned about the future of Knoxville after the boom of downtown and if there should be an economic downturn.
We need to get the city in strong financial shape.
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 am concerned with the process. If something is good for the citizens it will survive two administrations implementing it.
I could not find enough citizens that understood the changes or even why the changes were being proposed. I really feel like this should have been a five year process at the least to spread over the election process to shake out any partisan influences.
There is no imminent storm coming that is making these changes quickly needed.
What should the Knoxville Police Department do to balance the needs of keeping the community safe without serving as an overbearing presence in communities?
Recruiting is key. I would like to see an effort to recruit more officers who have grown up in the Knoxville area and more minorities. It would give them a better perspective of how to be the presence of “Law and Order” for all. And secondly, leadership is so important. Leaders must be chosen for their character as well as their devotion to the job.
Share your plan for addressing homelessness beyond the efforts which have already been tried?
People are homelessness because of many reasons. Financial problems, addiction, mental problems, various forms of abuse and other reasons. We first need to help those who want help. The Behavioral Health Center which I worked on is helping many with addiction and mental problems.
We have to identify each situation and attempt to get them the help they need. We have to remember no one wants to be homeless. Each of those people are someone’s family member. Finally, I would like to see an effort by all churches in Knoxville to be part of the solution.
Would you ever support a property tax increase?
No. There are too many hard-working men and women in Knoxville that make up the backbone of our city who go to work every day, feed their families, love their children, go to church on Sunday, yet many are living paycheck to paycheck.
They don’t need a tax increase. Government needs to do a better job of attracting business and visitors that contribute to our economy through our sales tax while providing jobs for these families. Currently, Knoxville is spending more money than they take in.
They need to budget like these hardworking families do. If you don’t have it – don’t spend it.
Government is not Santa Claus.
What is your vision for the City of Knoxville in the 4 / 8 years ahead?
I think Knoxville is headed to a crossroads. Do we become a city that grew so quickly without seeing into the future and then become a Nashville or Atlanta that everyone wants to avoid because of the congestion? OR…look farther down the road, make sound financial decisions, attract growing businesses while improving education and quality of life?
My recent presentation of the Downtown Tram (see video link above) as a possibility for the future of Knoxville was just a glimpse of what I see for Knoxville. We need people with ideas in government, not elected officials that sit back and react to whatever comes along.
We can become one of the great cities of the future.