Indya Kincannon is running for Mayor of Knoxville.
I am a proud mom of two teenage daughters and I have been married for 24 years to my husband, Ben, a law professor at the University of Tennessee. We have a mixed-lab rescue dog named Bobo, who keeps me company on slow jogs and mountain-bike rides through Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.
Shortly after moving here almost 20 years ago, I began to get involved as a neighborhood volunteer and then ran for an open seat on the School Board. I won and served for 10 years, including 3 years as Chair of the Board, overseeing a $450m budget, 8,000 employees and 60,000 students. In 2014 we moved to Slovenia for a year where I taught at an international school and Ben was a Fulbright Fellow.
Shortly after we returned in 2015, Mayor Rogero offered me a job working directly for her, overseeing grants, board and commission appointments and other special projects. I worked for Mayor Rogero from 2015 to 2018, learning the ins and outs of City Government.
Who are you and what brought you into this race?
After 10 years on the School Board it became clear that schools are only as strong and healthy as the neighborhoods they serve. I’m running for Mayor to help every neighborhood in Knoxville be healthy places of equitable opportunity for all.
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 support Recode Knoxville. Our zoning codes have not been updated in 60 years; they do not reflect the contemporary ways that we want to use our land and our buildings. Recode gives property owners more flexibility as to how they develop their properties, particularly along our commercial corridors.
This can help Knoxville grow in a more sustainable way and facilitate the construction of more affordable and accessible housing. Recode rectifies many zoning anachronisms that currently make the simplest renovation a red-tape hassle while also precluding development that would be inconsistent with the existing neighborhood character.
The Recode process has been long, arduous and not always handled perfectly. It has gotten better with every version, thanks to extensive community input.
It appears that Council will approve Re-Code, so I pledge to implement it in a fair and transparent manner, working with the public stakeholder group to monitor and evaluate its impact. I will consider it a living document that can be changed and improved as 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?
Public Safety is the most fundamental function of our city government. My highest priority for public safety is making sure KPD can recruit and retain top notch people to fill its ranks.
I support the principles of Community Policing, which means officers are out in the community, interacting with and getting to know the people they aim to protect. When there is a trusting relationship between KPD and the people they protect, their presence is welcome, not overbearing.
I also support a strong Police Advisory Review Committee (PARC), our citizen oversight board that handles complaints and concerns about relationships between KPD and the community.
Share your plan for addressing homelessness beyond the efforts which have already been tried?
I support the Housing First approach to addressing chronic homelessness. Provide a safe roof over a person’s head, then give them counseling and support to deal with mental health and other issues.
Once they have that stability, many people can then re-enter the labor market and live independently. For people with serious trauma or mental illness, we need more Permanent Supportive Housing, like Flenniken Landing and Minvilla Manor. These two facilities are very successful public private partnerships.
Some people are homeless due to a lack of affordable housing. I support the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and will work to increase the supply of affordable housing. I also think it’s important to work on the demand side, in other words, increasing people’s incomes so they can afford more housing. To work on this I will appoint a Workforce Development Liaison, connecting people to internships and apprenticeship opportunities, particularly in trades such as plumbing, HVAC repair, welding and carpentry.
These high skills trades are well-paid careers that cannot be bought on-line or shipped overseas, and you can earn money while you learn the trade instead of acquiring student debt.
Would you ever support a property tax increase?
Thanks to good fiscal stewardship by Mayor Haslam and Mayor Rogero, the city of Knoxville is in healthy fiscal condition. I do not foresee a need to raise property taxes.
As the City’s Economic Developer In Chief, I plan to increase revenues by recruiting new businesses and encouraging existing businesses to expand. Strong and sustainable economic development, coupled with efficient operations and services, is the best way to ensure our revenues remain greater than our costs.
What is your vision for the City of Knoxville in the 4 / 8 years ahead?
In the coming years I envision a Knoxville that is a national leader in sustainability, where we connect the ground-breaking research happening at Oak Ridge National Labs and University of Tennessee to business ventures in energy efficiency.
I see Knoxville as a magnet for green jobs, entrepreneurs, and economic opportunity open to all people in all parts of town. I envision a city that embraces our natural beauty, with well-maintained parks, connected greenways, clean waterways, where residents enjoy outdoor recreation and access to healthy affordable food.
The Sunsphere is a beloved relic of the 1982 World’s Fair. Under my leadership as Mayor, it will be a living symbol of a city that is green, resilient, affordable and equitable.