Let the voters decide in the District 4 City Council race
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The Knoxville City Council primary (district-based) elections on Tuesday, August 29 ended in an exact tie for second place in the 4th district between Amelia Parker and Harry Tindell, each with 488 votes. With no local precedent and ambiguously worded state laws, it was not immediately clear how the tie would be broken.
Knoxville's City Council is now planning to meet on Wednesday, September 6 to decide which of the two candidates will move on to the general election (which is supposed to be between the two candidates with the most votes). City Council has asked each of the candidates to give five minute presentations at that meeting, after which sitting Council members will either break the tie through a majority vote, or through a coin toss.
While we understand they are allowed for under the law, we consider neither of these methods to be democratic ways to decide an election: one is simply random, and the other favors the status quo and puts the favoritism of existing power brokers over the will of voters. We urge City Council to explore other, more democratic ways of breaking this tie that will allow voters to decide, including if at all possible allowing all three candidates to be on the ballot.
We understand that the options provided by state and local law are limited and confusing, and opinions may differ considerably on what is or is not legally possible. We aren't asking Councilors to break any laws, only to be proactive about exploring all possible solutions, including those which might require new or revised city ordinances.
Finally, we note that Amelia got this far through the support of hundreds of voters who have felt inadequately represented and who are excited to see progress in our city, and she did so with a fraction of the budget and name recognition of the other top placing candidates. More people, with more ideas and more energy, want to be involved in local politics than in any time in recent memory. We believe that Amelia's campaign has engaged many new voters and brought greater transparency and improved democratic processes into Knoxville's elections and government, and that Amelia would continue that work were she elected. We therefore hope to see her on the ballot in November, and ask City Council to make sure that she is.
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