Charles Lomax is running for Knoxville City Council At-Large Seat A.
Knoxville is my home. I was born at the University of Tennessee Hospital, and grew up in a lower-middle class home where my parents went to great ends to make ends meet.
We started out in East Knoxville where my educational endeavors began at Green Elementary School, and we ultimately moved West where, after a couple of stops in between, I attended and graduated from Karns High School in 2000. I attended the University of Tennessee where I studied Sociology and Political Science. Following my graduation from UT, I said “goodbye” to Knoxville and moved to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center where I earned a Master of Divinity degree.
Upon my return to Knoxville, I started working for the Knoxville Leadership Foundation. At KLF I served as the Match and Training Coordinator for Amachi Knoxville where I paired mentors with mentees who had at least one parent incarcerated in state or federal prison. I was also responsible for training each of our mentors and making sure they had the tools to make their match a success. It was while working at KLF that Mayor Madeline Rogero appointed me as a Commissioner on Knoxville/Knox County Planning (formerly the Metropolitan Planning Commission). Additionally while at KLF,
I started pastoring St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Alcoa, which prompted my departure from KLF. I have proudly served in the role of Senior Pastor at St. John for the last seven years, and because I am a lover and advocate of education, decided to pursue a Doctor of Ministry Degree at Emory University which I completed last year. With all of my educational endeavors completed,
I am ready to dedicate my time and effort to serving the citizens of Knoxville on CIty Council.
Who are you and what brought you into this race?
I am running for City Council because I love Knoxville, but more importantly, because I love what Knoxville has the potential of becoming. We are a great city with great people, and with the right individuals in place there’s nothing that we cannot accomplish together.
I’m running because I believe we should have a government that is reflective of our population. Historically, a representative government has eluded us and I believe that it’s time we make that change. For far too long, too many of our residents have felt as though their voices were not being heard, and it’s time for all of Knoxville to have a seat at the table.
These are but a few reasons why I am running for City Council At-Large, Seat A.
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 the only candidate running for City Council that has hands on experience with, and a voting record on ReCode.
I served on the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission, formerly known as the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC), for seven years and sending ReCode to City Council was one of my final votes prior to my departure. In essence, I love the idea of ReCode. Our city’s zoning ordinance is extremely antiquated and in need of overhaul. It was designed for a time that has long gone by, and is not adequate for what we need now. Over the three-year span that ReCode has been in motion, there were multiple avenues for public input and conversation.
Many citizens took advantage of that and ReCode is the better for it. The fear I have of ReCode is that it potentially offers blanket solutions or individualized problems. Every sector of our city is unique, and sometimes should be considered in isolation. Additionally, there are fears of increased displacement and a lack of density in certain areas. Once these issues are addressed and resolved,
I believe ReCode will be of great benefit for our city for years to come.
What should the Knoxville Police Department do to balance the needs of keeping the community safe without serving as an overbearing presence in communities?
Recent events have highlighted that the Knoxville Police Department is in need of addressing a number of issues internally. I believe that it is imperative to address those issues before we can deal with their presence in the community.
If there is a corruption and rot at the core, then work being done in the community is of little importance. The men and women of our Police Department do important work that often has life or death implications, and if the community cannot trust them to govern themselves accordingly and in a moral manner, there will never be relationship with those they are entrusted to serve and protect.
Share your plan for addressing homelessness beyond the efforts which have already been tried?
It breaks my heart that in a city as prosperous as Knoxville that we still have so many people that are homeless and near homeless. While there are many in our city that are doing extremely well, we are still challenged by astronomical rates of poverty.
We simply must do better. We have to look at immediate fixes as well as long-term solutions. The city’s effort under the Broadway Bridge is an immediate fix. It does not solve the problem, but it does help to have a centralized location for people to gather free from exposure to the elements. It helps, but it is not enough.
We have to target the roots of homelessness in order to offer every Knoxvillian the best opportunities to prosper for them and their families.
Would you ever support a property tax increase?
It is my hope that we would be able to generate enough revenue within our city to be able to adequately address our financial obligations without having to increase property taxes.
Widespread increased taxes overwhelmingly hurt the most vulnerable among us, and are a disadvantage to those trying to create a comfortable lifestyle. I am not in favor of raising property taxes, but I would potentially support a property tax increase as a last resort.
What is your vision for the City of Knoxville in the 4 / 8 years ahead?
My vision for Knoxville over the next four to eight years is that we would be a more vibrant, inclusive, and economically equitable city.
My hope is that the next four to eight years would provide more affordable housing, an increase in public and alternative transportation, and that we would have begun the very important work of decreasing our carbon footprint.
These are realistic ambitions that are accomplishable with the right conviction and determination, and will be some of my top priorities when elected to City Council.