November 30, 2022

Political candidates must verify abortion requests in campaigns

There will be significant fallout from the US Supreme Court’s decision to return abortion decisions to the states. Much will manifest in the individual districts of the State House and Senate where the two leading party candidates will differ.

Many people have forgotten that Knox County leans in favor of abortion rights. Voters here in 2014 rejected a state constitutional amendment to ban abortions. Amendment 1 passed statewide, but here the vote was 54,124 to 50,635 against.

Abortion is already being raised as an issue by Elaine Davis in her race against Janet Testerman in the Republican primary for state representative from District 18.

Davis made unverified claims that Testerman voted “to expand Planned Parenthood of Knoxville to allow surgical abortions on-site”, despite Testerman’s official opposition to abortion except for rape, d incest or to save a mother’s life. Davis declined to support his claim about Testerman’s vote when I asked him directly to do so.

Hundreds of protesters gather at Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville in support of abortion rights and in response to the overturning of Roe v.  Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022. The United States Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 that Americans no longer have a constitutional right to abortion and erases a reproductive right established by the High Court nearly five decades ago .

(As Davis requested, I disclose that my wife, Joan, hosted a reception for Testerman in May. I am not involved in the Testerman campaign myself.)

When I asked Davis if she favored exceptions, she simply said that she would “consistently vote pro-life, support Tennessee’s pro-life laws.” She did not respond whether she supported or opposed these three exceptions.

Elaine Davis, left, and Janet Testerman

Davis, in his first campaign pamphlet, also said Testerman did not support the Republican candidate for president or governor. Again, no evidence of this; simply not true, according to Testerman. Then Davis changed his pamphlet to say that Testerman had not “publicly” endorsed those GOP candidates. Davis needs to start talking about her goals if elected.

Davis has lost two previous elections. She lost to Finbarr Saunders for the county commission when she was a Democrat, then lost to Democrat Gloria Johnson in 2020 for the legislature when she was a Republican.

Councilwoman Amelia Parker set a record a few weeks ago by proposing eight amendments to the city charter. All failed to get a second or failed after getting a second.

Some of the issues raised by Parker deal with important topics such as the city’s budget process, but amendments to the city’s charter should be considered at a council workshop, where there is time for in-depth study of proposals. It didn’t happen here.

Mayor Indya Kincannon announced a reorganization of the city government last week to eliminate one of the three deputy mayors. It then created two positions: director of economic development and director of housing.

Harold Cannon will receive a salary of $174,187 as director of economic development and Amy Brooks will earn $155,000 as the new director of housing.

Additionally, Boyce Evans will earn $155,000 as the new chief financial officer. Kittrin Smith will earn $135,000 as acting assistant chief financial officer.

This happened with the departure of Stephanie Welch from city government as she moves to Maine.

Raymond Jin18, completed his one-year term as a student member of the Knox County Schools Board and enters Yale University in August. He graduated from Farragut High School. Grace Deckard, a senior in Hardin Valley, is the school board’s newest student member, having started on July 1. Student members do not have the right to vote but are allowed to speak on any issue facing the school board.

Raymond Jin

Jin said he attended two and sometimes three school board meetings every month for an entire year. Jin is Chinese-American and fluent in Mandarin as well as English. Her father is a professor at the University of Tennessee.

Jin was admitted to Duke, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. Another Farragut graduate, Rena Liu, will also be a freshman at Yale next month.


July 16: Businessman Ron Watkins is 80 years old. Fiona McAnally is 54 years old. Mary Stackhouse and former County Commissioner Mark Cawood are 68. Tom Bright is 64 years old. Amanda Busby is 51 years old. James R. Stovall is 45 years old. Mr. D. Dotson is 41 years old.

July 17: Anna Ottaviano is 48 years old. Jeremy Coffey is 46 years old. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Prince Charles, is 75. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel is 68. Christopher Crouch is 74 years old. Alison Driscoll is 32 years old. Bill Sansom is 81 years old. Don Freeman is 75.

July 18: Dr. Ewin Jenkins is 78 years old. James Shastid is 84 years old. Lawyer Mack Gentry is 78 years old. Janis Crye is 71 years old. Maria McHale is 32 years old.

July 19: Fran Keith, wife of former police chief Phil Keith, is 71. Libba Wall is 83 years old. Nan Scott is 75 years old. Charles Barker is 64 years old. Adam Brown is 58 years old. The city’s director of utilities, Chad Weth, is 46. Constance Paris is 20 years old.

July 20: John Sibley is 74 years old. Lawyer John Winemiller is 56 years old. Lisa Carroll is 75 years old. Daniel Steinhoff is 72 years old.

July 21: Former Congressman Jim Duncan is 75. Former Congressman Phil Roe is 77. The city’s director of communications, Kristin Farley, is 50. South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn is 82. Howard Blum is 93 years old.

22nd of July : Edward Cook is 63 years old. Prince George, son of Prince William and Princess Kate, is 9 years old. Zerconia Davis is 30 years old. Retired doctor Max Meredith is 84 years old.

Columnist Victor Ashe is a former mayor of Knoxville and former ambassador to Poland. He can be contacted at [email protected]