Nick Pavlis won’t run for mayor

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Nick Pavlis has been city council’s Energizer bunny for the past six years, showing up for neighborhood meetings all over town and making himself available to anyone who calls him. He’s Knoxville’s longest-serving council member and has long been assumed to be aiming at a run for mayor in 2018.

But he now says 16 years in city government is enough.

“People just get tired,” Pavlis said. “I was first elected in 1995 and served eight years in an at-large seat, sat out six years – serving two years on MPC during that time – then ran for the 1st District seat in 2011.

“I think it’s my time not to have the obligation as an elected official – I’m 62 now and I’m just ready to enjoy my life.”

What Pavlis didn’t mention is that serving as mayor is a full-time job, and would force him to leave his job as state director of governmental affairs with Charter Communications, a position that keeps him on the road between Knoxville and Nashville.

“I’m in Nashville every week when (the Legislature is) in session, and sometimes when we’re not in session,” he said. “I love what I do for a living. It’s tailor-made for me, and I don’t want to give it up.”

Pavlis feels good about the job he’s done for the city and for his district, and although he gives mayors Victor Ashe, Bill Haslam and Madeline Rogero great credit, he believes he played a part in Knoxville’s progress, as well.

“I believe I’ll be leaving Knoxville better off than I found it. It wasn’t that long ago that you could have held a Frisbee contest in the middle of downtown and there wouldn’t have been anybody getting in the way. Nobody’d care. I’m very proud of what we’ve done with the Urban Wilderness projects in South Knoxville.”

He says he’s a “little concerned” about the direction city council could take.

“I feel we need to have a good mix of people on the council. A good council member can’t be just a business-oriented person, nor should it be strictly a neighborhood-oriented person. We need a healthy mix on there.”

He cares deeply about who’s going to step in behind him, but hasn’t heard any names yet.

“I have not heard a thing about a successor. I’ve spoken to folks, kind of wanting to stir the ashes a little bit, but I’m not hearing much back. It’s hard to run for office these days. You kind of have to be retired, or have a job (with flexible hours) like mine. It’s difficult to effectively shepherd a district and have a full-time job with the hours you’ve got to put in.”

He is enthusiastic about a potential candidate in another district – former state Rep. Harry Tindell, who is considering a run for the 4th District council seat now occupied by Nick Della Volpe, who is also term-limited.

“Harry is a brilliant person. I learned that when I’d go talk to him about issues. He was always knowledgeable and prepared. If he runs, I’ll support him.”

And for mayor?

“Too early – it’s still two years out. But knowing me, I’ll be involved. We’ve got the city headed in a pretty good direction and we need to keep the momentum going.”

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