Catching up with Chris Woodhull

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Former City Council member Chris Woodhull has moved to the Chattanooga area, where he lives in Lookout Mountain, Ga., although he maintains his domicile here in Knoxville.

Over coffee recently, Woodhull, 54, told this writer that he continues to host “Improvisations” on Friday nights for WUOT; he started doing it before he left council in December 2011. “I grew up with jazz,” he says. He comes to Knoxville weekly to tape the show on the UT campus.

He also does consulting work with Richmont Graduate University, which has sites in both Atlanta and Chattanooga. He is the director of Build Me a World, which can be found at and is in a partnership with Fancy Rhino productions.

He’s glad he served on City Council as an at-large member for eight years but calls his performance “underwhelming.”

“I could have been better prepared for the life of a politician. Meetings often seemed artificial.”

He described colleagues Mark Brown and Bob Becker as “good friends.” He said he would not have run for a third term even if the City Charter had permitted it, but after eight years on council he thinks the mayor should be allowed to seek a third term because it is difficult to accomplish much in only eight years.

Woodhull said he was “glad to have been the deciding vote in choosing Knoxville’s first African-American mayor (Daniel Brown).” The other four were Marilyn Roddy, Daniel Brown, Becker and Joe Bailey. Each was the deciding vote on a 5-4 vote on a nine-member council.

■  The “Ed and Bob Show,” which used to be on WNOX, may appear on Knox County Commission starting Sept. 1 if Bob Thomas and Ed Brantley are elected to the commission’s two at-large seats. Brantley is opposed by Michelle Carringer, and Thomas is unopposed.

Brantley says he and Thomas did not always agree on the “Ed and Bob Show.” Thomas is seen as a person (one of several) who may run for county mayor in 2018 when Tim Burchett’s second and final term ends.

The contest between Ed Shouse and Craig Leuthold for the GOP nomination for county trustee will be hard fought. It revives memories of Black Wednesday, when County Commission disgraced itself with backroom deals naming each other and family members to various county positions.

Leuthold named his father, Frank, to his own seat. He also voted to install Fred Sisk as county trustee. Sisk then turned around a few weeks later and increased Leuthold’s salary by 44 percent (according to NS editor Jack McElroy’s column), making it an expensive thank-you for county taxpayers.

■  Events in Ukraine change daily, and the ultimate outcome is uncertain. Having lived in Poland from 2004 to 2009, I had a front-row seat observing how Ukraine freed itself from the former Soviet Union and moved haltingly toward democracy and economic vitality.

The Putin-inspired occupation of Crimea is another major setback to Ukraine. Poland, rightfully, remains deeply concerned about developments there and wonders how steadfast the United States will be over the long term in restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

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