Gallman enters District 15 contest

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Rhonda L. Gallman has qualified as a write-in candidate for House District 15, which was previously held by Joe Armstrong. She lives at 2431 Hoitt Ave. in North Knoxville. Her nickname, according to her signed form, is Mousie, and her phone is 865-936-4647.

Gallman has spoken several times at public forum before City Council in the past year although she has not voted in a city election for the past 16 years. She is African-American as are Rick Staples, Democratic nominee, and independent Pete Drew. The district is majority Caucasian.

Gary Underwood is the last person in Knox County to be successful with a write-in campaign when he qualified to oppose the late Vice Mayor Hoyle McNeil for City Council in 1989. He won a spot in the runoff and was elected for three terms.

■  Harry Tindell, former state representative and former school board member, is exploring a race for City Council for the District 4 seat now held by Nick Della Volpe. Tindell, 55, served 22 years in the Legislature as a Democrat. He was considered a thoughtful, informed lawmaker who worked well with Republicans.

Lauren Rider is also considering a council race from the same district. If both run, it will be an active contest. The primary is scheduled for September 2017 when five current council members are term limited. They are Daniel Brown, Duane Grieve, Brenda Palmer, Nick Pavlis and Della Volpe.

■  Radek Sikorski, former Polish foreign minister, will speak at the Howard Baker Center on the University of Tennessee campus on Cumberland Avenue at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, as part of the Ashe Lecture Series. The public is invited.

Sikorski, 53, served seven years as foreign minister (2007-14) and was defense minister for two years prior to that. He was marshal (speaker) of the Sejm (the lower house of the Polish parliament) 2014-15 as well as an elected member of the Polish Senate and the Sejm. He is an author and former journalist. He is married to Anne Applebaum, columnist for the Washington Post, and they have two sons. He will discuss his views on the future of Eastern Europe, the EU, NATO and US-Transatlantic relations.

■  Sidewalks: If there is any doubt the Rogero administration does not value City Council input on sidewalks, it showed up a few weeks ago when council was asked to approve new sidewalks on Ray Mears Boulevard, which already has a sidewalk. Vice Mayor Grieve had to ask why this was bumped ahead of other sidewalks in his West Knoxville district. No one from the mayor’s office had alerted him in advance.

The Rogero team says this project goes back to 2013 and council was told then. But that was three years ago and work on it was slow to take three years to get it to council, which had long forgotten the prior notice.

Given that Grieve is not just a council member but is also vice mayor, one would have thought that the city would go out of its way to keep Grieve informed of sidewalk priorities in his district. Sheffield Drive has been a neighborhood priority for years, led by Sandi Robinson and others.

In an email to several council members, Robinson called it “distressing and perplexing.” She renewed her call for help for Sheffield saying, “What about the safety of children walking to school (West Hills Elementary)? There is a school issue to consider. And the park facilities? Has (city) engineering redone a realistic estimate of costs? And was a traffic study done as promised? We have asked for sidewalks for 52 years. What does it take to get our need recognized?”

Apparently, the Veterans Clinic wanted the sidewalk. Council will continue to be denied consulting rights until members speak up and make it clear they must be consulted prior to approval. Grieve says council needs to have a discussion on building sidewalks in a “fair and needed manner” around the city. Grieve apparently wants the Sheffield Drive issue resolved, while Rogero has been silent.

■  Wanda Moody, former county commissioner, turned 87 on Sept. 8. Happy Birthday! She maintains an active life and is involved with her church, Bearden United Methodist.

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