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ROUGH EDITED COPY

 

AST‑CITY OF KNOXVILLE‑CODI MAYORAL FORUM

 

JULY 23, 2019, 

3:30 P.M. MT

 

REMOTE CART PROVIDED BY:

**ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION SERVICES, LLC**

www.CaptionFamily.com

 

 

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This is being provided in a rough draft format.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

 

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>> If we can have all the candidates please come to the front and take their seats, we'll be starting in three minutes.

[PAUSE]

>> So say our names before we speak.

>> Yes, please.

[PAUSE]

>> If the candidates will come up to the stage, we'll try to get started on time, please.  (Away from microphone).

>> Mark Allan. I'd like to welcome back everybody to the forum.  I'm Mark Allan.  I'm the chair of CODI (Away from microphone).

>>Mark Allan.  Created in 1984 this 21-member council provides information to the city on current events that concern people with disabilities.  I'd like all our fellow members to raise their hand.

[PAUSE]

>> Mark Allan. I would also like to introduce our City of Knoxville CODI staff liaison Misha Byrne, and our City ADA Coordinator Stephanie Brewer Cook.  Tonight we are honored to be holding this Mayoral Forum, the first some house cleaning.  Our format tonight will be questions in a round-robin style where each candidate will have 90 seconds to answer each question.  At the 70 second mark a yellow card will let you know it's 70 seconds so you’ve got 20 seconds to finish up and at ninety seconds red card will come up to where you finish your comments.  We request that the audience hold all comments and applause until the end of the program and if you would take the time to shut off your cellphones that would be helpful to keep everything rolling.  At this time, we'd like to give each of the candidates a 60 second time frame just to introduce yourself.

>> Fletcher Burkhardt. My name's Fletcher “Knoxville” Burkhardt.  I was born and raised here in Knoxville.  I went to Norwood Elementary and Northwest Middle School then West High School.  My campaign slogan and my goal for this is to put people over politics.  I am genuinely excited about the future of this city and I look forward to seeing this growth for everyone and not a select few.  Thank you.

>> Marshall Stair. Thank you.  My name'sMarshall Stair and thank you all for having this.  Certainly an important topic and something that glad to see everybody's here and I'm happy to be here.  A little bit about me, I was born and raised in Knoxville and went away for college, lived different places and then moved back to Knoxville and wanted to get involved in city council.  Have enjoyed serving on city council but really proud of what we've accomplished and being involved in that progress and my campaign is about building on this progress, addressing our challenges like affordable houses and homelessness but then also sticking to what we know we have to do, providing top quality services, you know, quality infrastructure, building sidewalks, in neighborhoods, making sure neighborhoods are safe and then also advocating for education.  One thing I do have to leave early tonight.  I wanted to be here and answer as many questions as we can get through.  So thank you all for coming.

>> Indya Kincannon. Good evening, everyone.  My name's Indya Kincannon.  I'm really happy to be here tonight.  I have lived in Knoxville since 2001.  We moved when my husband Ben got a job at the University of Tennessee and we have been here ever since raising our kids here.  We have two teenage daughters, Dahlia and Georgia.  They were part of the reason I first got involved in our neighborhood.  Fourth and Gill.  In 2004 I was concerned about the quality of our public schools so I decided to be part of the solution and I ran for school board.  I have a background in public policy and as a teacher, and I was lucky enough to get elected and serve ten years on the school board.  More recently I have been working for Mayor Rogero in the City of Knoxville Mayor's office and looking forward to making Knoxville an accessible city for all.

>> Eddie Mannis. Hi, everyone.  I'm Eddie Mannis.  I'm a native Knoxvillian.  I grew up in North Knoxville. Went to Inskip Elementary School, Gresham Junior High School, and graduated from Central High School many years ago.  It's good to be here.  Thank you all for hosting this event.  Just a little bit about me quickly.  As I said I'm a native Knoxvillian.  Started my company in 1985 that’s Prestige Cleaners.  We started with three employees and today we have about 168 employees Company wide.  We’re in the dry cleaning business, tuxedo rental business and I have worked since 1985 for the past 34 years to try to give back to the community in which we do business in.  So we will always continue to do that and some of our community involvement, I started the honorary program and I'll say I don't have all the answers to lots of the challenges but I seek out challenges and opportunities and I have the experience of assembling teams to work through challenges and opportunities to work through here at the City.  Thank you.

>> Calvin Taylor Skinner. My name is Calvin Taylor Skinner, faith leader, community organizer, and rooted here in Knoxville Tennessee.  Going to Bluegrass Elementary, Willow Springs Middle and graduating high school from Fulton High.  I went on to the University of Tennessee.  After graduation I went on to Philadelphia to earn my Masters of Divinity degree, also working in community developments specifically around diversity and inclusion, and then I went on to Washington, D.C. to do workaround leadership development and faith in policy.  I eagerly came back to Knoxville in 2017 because of the full story has not been told, has not been represented and I'm taking the experiences and the tools I gained outside of Knoxville and coming back to bring far‑reaching transformation through unconventional approaches.

>> Mark Allan. Thank you.  Again, how we'll do this is the first question I'll read, we'll start with Fletcher Burkhardt and go to Marshall down the line.  The next question will be directed to Marshall first come back down the line and come back to Fletcher.  What we're calling a round-robin.  To get started, question one to Fletcher Burkhardt.  Describe your experience when individuals with disabilities in Knoxville.  How have you included individuals with disabilities in your campaign efforts?  How do you plan to include this population during your tenure as mayor?

>> Fletcher Burkhardt. Thank you, Fletcher Burkhardt.  One of my father's best friends is actually deaf so I grew up finger spelling as a child.  I've ground up around the environment for the most part.  When I was in college I worked at a young life camp which is a camp for people with disabilities at a young life camp.  It was one of the most humbling experiences I've ever had.  But on top of that with my campaign one of my advisors is actually blind, completely.  She helps me with a lot of stuff that goes along to answering and really addressing some of these problems because I believe leading to the next question is I believe that I don't know all the answers.  That's why we have to give a voice to people with ‑‑ that deal with these problems and these disabilities, because I want everyone in the government to have a say.  I want everyone in our city to have a say and I think all people should be represented.  So that's why I promise to have someone that represents every community and every type of person in our city.

>> Marshall Stair. Thank you.  I'd first like to say I think it's great, Knoxville's had a council on disability since 1984.  I think it's certainly impressive given that the Americans with Disabilities Act didn't pass until 1990 under the first President Bush.  I think that shows that the city has been taking this issue seriously for some time and that whoever is elected will be, you know, building on the work that's already been done.  In terms of, you know, my experience, my campaign, we've, of course, reached out to everyone and have a number of supporters with disabilities and they often provide an insight that sometimes, you know, frankly I just don't recognize, you know, and things like one of my ‑‑ sort of one of the issues we have been wrestling with on councils is the scooters.  And I know that, the fact they're sort of left on sidewalks present quite a challenge for people in wheelchairs.  I have a supporter who's visually impaired, close to blind.  So I think we have to take those things into consideration.  The only way you do that is if you have those people at the table.  Diversity is making sure people are at the table and inclusion is making sure their voice is heard.

>> Indya Kincannon.  My ten years on the school board I always tried to advocate for kids no matter what their background or ability or disabilities and a couple things I'm really proud is we were able to work with the City and get a grant to do an accessible swing at the playground at Christenberry Elementary.  Another thing I'm really proud of that took a lot longer than I ever expected was getting an elevator at Belle Morris Elementary, a hundred‑year‑old school.  And that was to accommodate some parents and family members who had mobility issues and stairs were not possible.  It took a lot of work and really pleased when we could make our schools, particularly older buildings more accessible.  I also have neighbors, friends with disabilities who helped me understand that perspective.  A good friend of ours is Otis Stevens who was an amazing professor at UT who gave me a lot of information about what it's like to be visually impaired in this city.  I've also worked with Spark, Disability Resource Center and Sertoma Center when I was with the mayor's office overseeing community agency grants.  I think I'm out of time, but thank you.

>> Eddie Mannis.  I have a 12‑year‑old nephew that suffers from severe autism to a point where it's a tremendous disability for him.  So I know firsthand those challenges, but from a company standpoint at Prestige we've worked for some time with Sertoma Center and Tennessee School for the Deaf to try to employ many adults as we can with disabilities in our workplace.  Also my experience that I mentioned earlier with over 3600 veterans being served now there's typically ten to 12 veterans on every flight and it's not unusual for us to serve veterans that are totally confined to wheelchairs, double amputees.  It's our goal and our mission to make sure they have the same experience that all of our other veterans do during the day in D.C.  I know the challenges that exist there and I would make it my goal to make sure that Knoxville is an accessible city for those who may be challenged from a disability standpoint.

>> Calvin Skinner.  Ever since high school I have been actively involved as a peer counselor working with students with disabilities and I went on to University of Tennessee where I'm in a mentoring program where I work with schools in east Knoxville and what really stood out to me were students who are dealing with disabilities.  A lot of times either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed and it's treated as behavioral issues and therefore students were over disciplined.  So being exposed to that helped me realized the inequities as it relates to dealing with disabilities and really understanding what we should do in relation to putting the proper resources and really understanding what we should do as it relates to addressing disabilities.  Even for our campaign, I'm grateful for the support of those persons who have even served as advisors to help us not only think through the matters that the City needs to address but actually to have them at the table to work through those solutions.  It is my intention and goal to fully embrace this effort.  Thank you.

>> Mark Allan. Thank you.  The next question we'll start with Marshall Stair.  The City of Knoxville has aging and outdated recreational facilities and park spaces that are included in the ADA study to identify what needs to be done to make these areas inclusive and able to promote healthy lifestyles for people of all ages and abilities.  We have received $1.4 million to date to remediate 21 facilities.  While this is a good start towards making the facilities ADA compliant, more fund something needed to complete additional improvements.  What is your plan to ensure accessible and ADA compliance is a necessity when it comes to providing resources and funding?

>> Marshall Stair. Yes, and, you know, it's something I think we've made progress on but still a long way to go and it's amazing to look back at the old pictures of sidewalks that have, you know, two or three steps on them when they come to a street, you know, and how far we've come that's much more rare.  In terms of facilities, I think we've worked with the Council on Disability to see what facilities are a priority and to keep chipping away at them one by one, make sure that there are funds in every budget every year to upgrade existing facilities.  And oftentimes we've built new facilities.  We need to make sure we upgrade one each time we whether a new one.  Fort Kid there by the museum, a lot of obviously went to have a play structure there but I think it's important it's accessible and a play structure that can be used by all children.

>> Indya Kincannon.  When I'm Mayor I hope to make universal design part of everything we do.  I believe that universal design is the best approach because it makes it so everybody has accessibility, not some separate thing.  So Ashley Nicole Dream Playground is a great example.  That was built when my kids were little and we enjoyed playing there and so do kids of all ability levels along with their grandparents and parents who may have mobility issues or other challenges.  So I'm also really pleased.  I think that the city has made great strides with ADA compliance but we need to make universal design part of what we do in every renovation, and I would also rely on CODI to help us set priorities.  I'm really pleased with the success of Sutree Landing, our newest park.  That to me exemplifies the importance of universal design.  When you do it ahead of time and think about it ahead of time, it saves money, it makes everything accessible and Stephanie, I thank you and the CODI team for making that happen.  The picnic tables a great example.  A picnic table that is wheelchair accessible.  Doesn't take a lot of effort if you just plan ahead.  I want to do that as mayor and retrofit our existing facilities with priorities based on CODI's guidance.

>> Eddie Mannis.  I think the statistic across the country is two and five parks and recreation agencies have a formal inclusion policy and it ensures that all members of the community can access and enjoy the parks that we have.  As I was thinking through inclusion I think sometimes people say inclusion but they forget about those with disabilities are in that inclusion policy.  I strongly believe in the policies that are of the inclusion policy and I agree our parks need to be 100 percent accessibility for all families that call Knoxville home.  I'll submit to ensuring all updates and renovations to our parks under my administration will include those considerations for individuals with disabilities.  I was at tomorrow City park.  I was in Fountain City Park the other day and there was a mother on the playground, she said I want to show you something.  She was in a wheelchair and at the park there‑‑ her child was over there playing but she could not get over there.  That is a prime example of those things that exist and those barriers that exist.  So I think that all of our city parks need to be accessible.

>> Calvin Skinner.  As we think about our recreational facilities in addition we need to get to the basics on how are we doing overall with access all over the city?  And when we say all over the city we need to be inclusive to all of the city for in the East Knoxville where there is a substantial amount of residents with disabilities, sidewalks are not wheelchair accessible.  Many people with disabilities have trouble just navigating around the city blocks, nonetheless getting into the recreational facility.  So indeed our priority should be to update our recreational facilities and parks but we have to do better.  And we could do better just to address the basic needs around the city, including the sidewalks in all of Knoxville.

>> Fletcher Burkhardt.  If the City's involved I think it should be 100 percent ADA compliant.  You know, the question here, it asks when it comes to providing resources and funding, you know, if the City is involved, it should be ADA compliant.  If a building or a developer gets a tip or a pilot they should be required to be ADA compliant because it is unfair for us to be involved in things that aren't.  If we're a government that represents an entire City, we should make choices for an entire city, not just a few.  So, yeah, for me I think it would be ‑‑ it's a hard line in the sand that if we are involved it will be ADA compliant.

>> Mark Allan. Thank you.  Question three will start with Indya Kincannon.  How will your leadership as mayor encourage other departments and local businesses to support greater civic participation by residents of all ages and abilities.

>> Indya Kincannon.  One of the things I did while working for Mayor Rogero was help her to find people to serve on the 50 plus boards and commissions in our city, everything from Metropolitan Planning Commission to KCDC to board of zoning appeals and Green Waste Commission.  There's hundreds of people and our goal was to make sure that these people who are on these decision making boards represent the City as a whole.  So if we are trying to set priorities, whether it's for about, say, transportation, we need to make sure there are people who use the bus on those committees.  If we are setting priorities for how we're going to prioritize our sidewalks, new sidewalks, maintaining old sidewalks, we need to make sure we have people who with mobility challenges on those committees in decision making.  So as mayor I believe diversity's a strength in that we have better outcomes when we have people representing this community as well as other communities in our decision making bodies, and that's how I would lead by example and show the outcomes as improved through that diversity and hopefully then the private sector would follow suit.

>> Eddie Mannis.  I think that approximately 50 percent of our population here in Knox County have some kind of disability.  That represents over 56,000 individuals.  It is important that they feel civically engaged and they have the ability to participate in civic conversations and civic opportunities.  I will hold all the departments when I am mayor I will hold all of our department heads accountable in making sure there are no barriers to civic participation by our Knoxvillians and my administration will be representative ‑‑ said this many times ‑‑ low pressure representative of all of our community.  I will work to use the public platform as mayor and build on my knowledge of the business community to encourage businesses to make their places accessible to those with disabilities and really work on fostering an environment from a business perspective that really demonstrates the importance of doing so.

>> Calvin Skinner. when I came back to Knoxville I launched an organization called One Knox Legacy Coalition where I partnered with faith institutions and nonprofits to mobilize around the vote, informing people on the matters that are important we were successful, even hosting an event here with council woman Gwen McKenzie.  They had the City County building where we met with City officials and other.  I would take that same approach to ensure that we are collaborating with community partners, making sure they have a seat at the table.  If we currently recognize now the City and County commissions and even other groups, we have to ask the question who is represented even on the current commissions and the advisory boards and it will be clear that it has been quite limited in that way.  So as mayor I would certainly assure that the commissions and advisories are fully representative of Knoxville.

>> Fletcher Burkhardt.  Earlier I'd said that in my administration I want every person represented.  The reason I say those things is because I believe it is the mayor's responsibility to set an example and precedence for what they expect.  And I prefer the leadership style of do as I do, rather than do as I say, not as I do.  We need to lead by example.  And so in doing so I would love to start to find ways to encourage and possibly incentivize local businesses to be more accessible but also hire better and higher more inclusively.  I think that would be represented with the way I bring people on because we need our voices to be heard, every person.  And at the end of the day we can do better.  And I think for me that's what it boils down to, we can do better.  By leading by example and encouraging these businesses to do better and be better, our city will become a blueprint for the modern Southeast.  I want people to look to us as to why our city is so successful and why people are flocking here because of the inclusivity, because of the environment, because of the economy and that is my goal is to set an example.

>> Marshall Stair. Yes?  Terms of ‑‑ I would create an office of diversity and inclusion because I think we have to be intentional about it.  I think we need a department that is focused on it and this department would be in charge of making sure the City has a diverse workforce ‑‑ and that Knoxville as a whole is welcoming and also that we are also making sure we're hiring minority owned businesses.  So that's how important it is to me, that's where, you know, we have a department, we know who's doing it, we know we're being intentional about it because to me it's not only the morally right thing to do; it's absolutely vital for Knoxville's success.  There's some companies that don't move to Knoxville because there's not enough diversity.  So I think to be successful we have to be diverse.  We need that mix, that mix of backgrounds, incomes, abilities, races, national origins, that's so important for the city's success and that's why I would do that in office.

>> Mark Allan. Question four, we'll start with Eddie Mannis.  For years the City of Knoxville has supported the meaningful employment of individuals with disabilities by participating in national disability employment awareness month activities, hosting several job seekers with disabilities throughout the city, as well as regular engagement with the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium.  Describe your past participation in these efforts and how you would improve them.

>> Eddie Mannis.  And I think I said from the private sector I've worked really hard to be inclusive and include those individuals who may have disabilities to every extent possible within our private sector workforce.  But as the mayor I will ensure the city continues to actively participate in the efforts to expand the meaningful employment opportunities, such as national disability employment awareness month to help bridge the gap.  But it's not just limited to the month of October.  My administration will have an intentional focus, to continue to have conversations and seek new and creative ways to provide opportunities to all individuals.  I think reaching out in the business community also with the chamber and trying to build stronger partnerships and helping them understand our intent as an administration, our intention on really being inclusive with the disabilities would be a way I would start.  So thank you.

>> Calvin Skinner. Again, I would look into what's already being done and expand on that.  Being very intentional to recognize where are the fixes that are necessary to improve and really create a culture that is inclusive that is not an exception, it's not an issue of, you know, creating a new office but it's just saying, all right, let's be intentional with the offices and the departments we already have and be really serious about, you know, building an inclusive and vibrant Knoxville especially as it relates to persons with disabilities.  With the awareness month we would again just capitalize on what is working and really how do we infuse the culture that we are trying to create in the city as my role as mayor to build upon it to grow and make it stronger.  Like I said it's not an exception but it's part of the culture.

>> Fletcher Burkhardt.  You know, Knoxville has been supportive of this and like I said earlier we can do better so anything we can do to be better, do better I support.  We have to keep supporting these efforts.  Like Eddie said it shouldn't be one month a year, we should strive for 12 months to make sure Knoxville is the place people want to be.  As for past participation, I’m transparent, I haven't been and that is my fault.  I'm okay with not having all the answers because I'm really good as listening.  I'm really good at taking people's words and listening and hearing them and we need someone who's willing to do that.  I think with we need someone willing to sit down one‑on‑one with groups frequently not just while they're campaigning.  So what I'll promise is if elected is I will continue to listen intentionally and we will make sure we do better and we be better and we create a city that's better for everyone, not a select few.

>> Marshall Stair. Yes, on council I supported Mayor Rogero’s efforts on disability and I think we need to continue those and make those efforts year round and then also consider holding a job fair for both government and nonprofit and private sector deployment for the disabled community to help find work.  I'm a little bit familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act and I know it's broad and the updates that were made in 2008 made it even broader for any type, you know, any substantial impairment to major life activities working with employers I think they find making minor changes they end up benefiting.  Sometimes they can be hesitant at first but realize when they're required to by law to make sure to make reasonable accommodations but once they do that I think they find that they benefit a lot more than any type of minor expense they incur.

>> Indya Kincannon.  I'm not very familiar with disability employment awareness month and that's a sign that maybe I should be paying closer attention but that's also a sign that as mayor I could do a lot to raise your awareness and that would certainly be my goal working with CODI and other people in the community.  I know some of you, Brewer, other people that's your job is connecting people with disabilities to employment opportunities.  So one thing I would like to do is talk to people who are doing that and then raise awareness by sharing those personal interest stories.  I think of other efforts, you know, the My Health Campaign when you see around the city offices like how did someone get healthier, there's a personal story with a picture, do we do that whether it's from person with disability who got at a job at a law office or hospital or grocery store and share those success stories and people are like this works well not just for the employee, it works well for the employer.  I think those personal stories could make a difference and the City could amplify that through our communications department and direct participation.  Those are my hopes and also my connections with the school system, the school has a college and career fair of some kind and I think they do ‑‑ I would like the City to partner with them and amplify those opportunities for students that do for younger people just finishing up their high school careers and have them connect that.

>> Eddie Mannis. 2011 ‑‑ until 2013, mid‑year 2013 I served as the Chief Operating Officer for City of Knoxville and Stephanie and I had several occasions that we would talk about some challenging opportunities we had within the city for individuals with disabilities and I think that what I would do is sit down and I’ve said this for a while, with every department and evaluate each department individually, determine how we can operate most effectively and efficiently and I’ll fully support the activities of the Disability Service Office and obviously will make sure it is adequately funded and staffed.  What I would like to see, and I know there is a strategic plan that the office has put together and through 2019, but I would ask for a comprehensive strategic plan for a three to five‑year period to say here's where we are today, where do we see ourselves with this opportunity in the next three years in the next five years and we would work toward putting goals together and funding those goals and moving forward.

>> Mark Allan. Thank you.  Question five will start with Calvin Skinner.  Knoxville's Disability Services Office serves over 300 residents and visitors with disabilities each year and is comprised of one full‑time and one part‑time employee.  This office is responsible for providing information, addressing ADA complaints, and guiding the City's ADA compliance efforts, and providing people ‑‑ providing City employee's accommodation requests.  CODI has long supported the expansion of this office in order to provide additional support and service to individuals with disabilities who live and visit Knoxville.  How are you going to ensure that our City makes more headway in supporting persons with disabilities through an expansion of the disability services?

>> Calvin Skinner. Absolutely.  Take it serious by expanding resources.  Just like when, you know, certain cities establish diversity and inclusion offices and only staff it with one person, if we're going to be serious about this work, this office certainly needs more than one and a half persons to staff.  I just think about those persons I run into including seniors who come crying to me because of issues with their residents whether it's their elevator not working or other obstructions as it relates to them getting into their own places.  I could only imagine what the issues I'm hearing what the office goes through and everything that the CODI office has to work through, it is necessary to put the resources to work through this so I would absolutely be 100 percent behind putting the necessary resources into this department.

>> Fletcher Burkhardt.  You know, when I look at the fact there's two employees, one full‑time, one-part time to deal with these issues across our city that's not enough.  How am I going to ensure that?  Again, I don't have all the answers but I can assure you and ensure you that I will make efforts and I promise to address that.  You know, I'm looking at some of these stats we have been given we may have never seen before and some of them are staggering.  We have to expand offices like this to be an inclusive city, to be a city people want to visit, a city that people want to be in.  If we become that city, we start to bring in revenue to make changes towards these efforts.  Absolutely I'll support this.  Absolutely I'm going to support this but I'm going to listen first to see how you want it supported.  I feel like I'm saying the same things, but I just want to listen, I want everyone to be in these processes.  I can't tell you what's best for, you know, someone in a wheelchair.  I know I don't have the answers but I know a lot of people in our city do and that's why I plan to include them in these processes but again I don't have an exact plan but I think it's good that I'm willing to admit that and be willing to listen.

>> Marshall Stair. Yeah, I think, you know, community involvement is key in everything I think the City did you see and this topic is certainly no different.  I think you've got the Council on Disability and I think you have to work with them to address the needs and to me the main three are employment, housing, and transportation and we have to do everything we can to move the needle on those three important issues.  You know, I think, you know, the community on disability they want just what everybody else wants.  They want a family life, a good job, and to be able to get around to enjoy the city they live in.  So, it’s about getting to the basics and making sure we're making headway on those three fronts.

>> Indya Kincannon.  First I think that Stephanie Brewer Cook and Misha you do a great job.  I forgot your last name I'm sorry, Misha.  So, thank you for your work.  I think we get a big bang for our but you can for the amount of staff currently dedicated to ADA and CODI and accessibility issues.  Thank you for that.  My strategy as mayor will be to advocate for accessibility and making the perspective of people with disabilities part of every department.  I would be happy to expand the staff and resources allocating just to the Disability Resources Department but that would be contingent on budget and council's, you know, and my setting priorities and ADA and accessibility will be a big priority but a strategy that I would like to pursue is making accessibility part of the public service department, part of the sustainability department, part of KPD, part of engineering, just internally and externally and how we serve people the communications department now lists ADA accommodations language termination and everything on language communication.  Sometimes with practice it becomes part of the regular routine and I think that will be the ultimate thing.

>> Eddie Mannis. I think maybe I already answered question Number 5.  Would you like to answer that again? If you got anything to add?  I don’t know how I got out of order but maybe I jumped across and you didn’t ask the question, but I answered it anyway.

>> Mark Allan. We'll go to answer six and this we'll start again with Fletcher Burkhardt.  Active leadership by persons with disabilities is necessary to ensure that any decisions made are made with these voices being present to identify how those decisions may impact our community.  How will you engage individuals with disabilities to be included in key City leadership roles?

>> Fletcher Burkhardt. Did I think I probably said something about this in every answer.  I think the one thing I'll add is I guarantee and I promise that once a month I'll have community meetings and I want to be able to listen to everyone and everyone will be represented in my administration.  I want to have these community meetings to really maintain relationships and communication because I believe that as mayor you're a public servant.  You know, it's a relationship.  When you don't communicate, it fails.  So know that I'm going to listen and I will promise to hear.

>> Marshall Stair. Yes, in terms of the administration I would certainly encourage and look for the best and most qualified regardless of any type of disability.  In terms of the Mayor's Council on Disability, I think it's important to note that the bylaws require that at least 50 percent of the members, you know, have disabilities and I think that's a good thing and sort of gets to the heart of this question, and it’s about what I talked about earlier, diversity is making sure they're at the table and inclusion is making sure their voice is heard and so I would certainly take that principle as mayor.

>> Indya Kincannon.  When I was working for Mayor Rogero one of the things did I was serve on the Equity Committee and Stephanie Cook was a very active and strong voice on that committee and I thought it was very effective.  So, I would want her and other people to have a strong presence that's all the decision making levels, interior to the city but also on our decision making boards and commissions and also to continue to support and listen to the Council on Disability Issues which was what brought us here today.  So, yeah, just making sure that I appoint people, hire people and pursue volunteers to serve on boards that represent the disability community.

>> Eddie Mannis. As I said earlier, this is something that I live with, having a nephew as I said before, the voice that I will hear is my sister's voice representing individuals with disabilities.  My leadership team will definitely be representative of the community and this will certainly include individuals with disabilities.  And I will also ensure that people with disabilities interests are represented when key decisions are made, those decisions being made within engineering when we look at infrastructure and how we accommodate those individuals with disabilities.  These individuals are in the best position to identify the challenges as far as engineering and infrastructure.  They're in the best position to identify these challenges.  So we will work to identify the challenges and listen and get all the input from the community from those with disabilities but also talk with engineering and look at our infrastructures and move forward.

>> Calvin Skinner.  In addition to CODI doing wonderful work around disabilities, there are community partners who are in the trenches doing wonderful work leading the wonderful causes including Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, so tapping into those community partners to gain their expertise and even help us extend the resources, especially around people to make sure they are included.  That's the approach and I trust and know that we'll also be successful.

>> Mark Allan. Question seven will be first asked to Marshall Stair.  Living with a disability is very expensive and the lack of accessible housing and aging compounds the problem.  This can force individuals to live in institution settings versus independent living with their own ‑‑ within their own communities.  As mayor, how will you increase the percentage of accessible housing units required to address this systemic issue?

>> Marshall Stair. Right.  I think these next two questions really get at the heart of what really in terms of moving the needle on quality of life and housing and transportation.  Definitely need to do more on affordable housing.  On council we've taken action the last three years in increasing the number of affordable housing units, putting ‑‑ leveraging private dollars with the affordable housing rental find and, you know, I think we need to consider making sure a certain percentage of every project the city's involved in is set aside and is ADA accessible.  The other thing is working with the section eight program.  You know, I know one of the biggest challenges is finding landlords that accept section eight and are ADA accessible.  I think one thing I would do is work with the state legislature to see if they could implement laws that limit landlord's ability to reject section eight vouchers, especially if they have units that are ADA accessible.

>> Indya Kincannon.  As I mentioned before I strongly endorsed the idea of universal design.  I'm glad that KCDC has made accessible housing a priority in recent years for seniors and people with disabilities.  I think East Port and Five‑Points are relatively new facilities that offer that kind of housing and then there's I think eight total that are specifically, but I recognize that the demand for accessible housing that's also affordable far exceeds the supply.  I would support KCDC to include accessibility in the Austin homes redevelopment project to make accessible, affordable rental units increase there which is also close to transportation and jobs.  I’ll also support the use of the affordable housing trust fund when we provide bridge funding to various private sector developers to make sure they consider accessibility and universal design on everything.  Universal design can be good for families of young kids, good for seniors, good for people experiencing dementia and, you know, that's what it is; it's universal.  So to the extent that we can make that included in all the new and renovation things.  I also want to work with partners CAC, Sertoma Center, Helen Ross McNabb and for our neighbors experiencing homelessness, Knoxville Leadership Foundation and VMC have done a great job and with Villa Manor and Flannigan Landing.

>> Eddie Mannis. I think continuing with the affordable housing trust fund and working with KCDC as Indya said to make sure what we build from affordable housing standpoint is accessible to those with disabilities will be key and I released a policy a few weeks ago that talked about finding a dedicated stream of funding for the affordability housing trust fund.  Currently there is no dedicated stream of funding but I would work to afford that as well.  I’ll also work to reconsider the tax free act of 2007 where lots of people are disabilities are in our aging population.  As I said a lot of those are veterans so that would help the people that are over 65 remain in their homes by not allowing property taxes to increase or fluctuate.  I also released the policy I will establish the Mayor's Housing Task it Force and work with community partners to see what is working and what needs to be expanded upon. This group the task force certainly will have representation from the disability community and will be an important part of identifying and addressing the issues.

>> Calvin Skinner. How would I increase the housing, I would look at the housing we already have and look at the quality and the maintenance of those facilities.  I visited such a facility, such as Summit Towers and I was alarmed by some of the issues that building was having and was also told that there has been rooms, apartments that have been vacant for many months and the question is what's happening with the current vacancies?  If there are vacancies, why aren't those apartments being filled especially if we have a shortage.  So the question for me is looking at what we already have and why are we addressing those certain issues, especially around maintenance and current vacancies that may be available in the city.

>> Fletcher Burkhardt. You know, obviously I think everyone has great ideas.  I like using the affordable housing fund.  Recently my grandmother had a stroke and she lost her right side.  So she can't move it.  And seeing how hard it was for an older woman to live in a community is sad.  We have to, there's someone that stays with her every day and night to ensure and it's expensive.  We need to find ways to make those more accessible for everyone.  We need to make sure living environments are welcoming to every person in our city.  We shouldn't make people feel excluded.  Community and purpose I say often can give people reason to wake up in the morning and I think it's the city's responsibility to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  And if we aren't doing that, we're failing.  And that's unacceptable.  For me obviously I said earlier, I don't have all the answers but I know that we can ensure this and we can move forward and start to make percentages a little bit greater, start to make ‑‑ you know, like Marshall said when we build a new park why don't we make it accessible or why are we not fixing the current ones.  We need to really address the current issues so we can make some changes here and now but really set some strategic goals for the five to ten-year plan as well so we can be ideally our city would be an ADA compliant city.  I think that would be the ten, 20-year goal completely.

>> Mark Allan. Question eight will start with Indya Kincannon.  Transportation options are a critical concern for thousands of individuals with disabilities and those aging in the Knoxville area.  How will you address the lack of accessible cabs, Uber, lack of and compliance with the accessible street parking, accessible sidewalks, bus stops and crosswalks, and the lack of accountability for access in emerging transit technologies?

>> Indya Kincannon.  Transportation is really essential to getting to jobs, to visiting family, to livability in this city.  One of the things I did when I worked for the mayor was help redraft owners for Knoxville Transportation Authority to consolidate it and make sure there's a member of CODI on that board at all times representing the needs of the disability community and KTA, Knoxville Transportation Authority, not only sets the routes and fares for our bus system but they also regulate taxi cabs and I'm not sure but I don't think they regulate Uber or Lyft, but I'd have to ask CODI to find out for sure, but perhaps we can look and see what the best practices are in other cities, but I do think that having the member of CODI on the KTA board is essential and I'd want to make sure that person's voice was heard and considered.  I'd also like to really examine how we can more effectively enforce the rules we already have on the books for the accessible parking, because that's ‑‑ we have made the accommodation but if people are breaking the law, we already have the ability to enforce that so I want to make sure that we were doing that in an expeditious manner.

>> Eddie Mannis.  A statistic we saw today as we were just reading about individuals with disabilities and 3.6 million with travel limiting disabilities do not leave their homes because they are disabled or housebound.  That is astounding to me that that would be the reason why they are just confined to the house and that is ‑‑ I think they really suffer from a sense of purpose and hope when they're in those situations.  I certainly understand the difficulties I think individuals are faced, ride sharing is regulated at the state level and we talked about a little perplexing with the Uber and cabs, I'm not sure how we would address that.  But it’s something we would certainly look into.  And accessible street parking is something we need to review and work with engineering to make sure that we are currently in compliance but do we need to do more from accessible street parking.  And then our KAT system early in the administration 2012 throughout my time there the KAT, public transportation reported to me directly and we talked about some of the disability issues but more about technology and we would need to review that.  I think that maybe adjusting routes, bus schedules, or investing maybe in some updated bus stops, I don't know what those updated bus stops really look like, but it's something that we can certainly look into to make public transportation more accessible for those individuals with disabilities.

>> Calvin Skinner.  I am hopeful as I shared earlier as we attempt to community partners who understand not only identifying the issues but have the solutions to these very issues presented.  I think we could move the City forward in being compliant and effective for the disability community but what really stands out to me in this question is the lack of accountability for access in emerging transit technologies.  That's very alarming in that there is a sense, and I think a broad sense that there is a lack of accountability when it comes to matters related to the City.  So I think it's very important to build a trust to cultivate a sense of true partnership in a city that the city is not only accountable but transparent in all processes and ensuring that people are at the table from the beginning is helpful but, again, addressing the accountability piece is certainly something that needs to be priority across the city.

>> Fletcher Burkhardt.  You know, when I look at this question, you ask it, it's why aren't we doing these things.  Why aren't we ensuring access to the transit?  You know, to me it's the logical thing to do.  I don't understand oftentimes why we have to go back and fix what we should have done in the first place.  You know, when I look at the things we have done as a city, like the scooters, our sidewalks are not built for those.  My friend Yvonne, and advisor, said every time she walks downtown she kicks one.  She can't make it down any of our streets without hitting a scooter.  You know, when you look in front of Downtown Grill and Brewery, the sidewalk's maybe 6 feet.  If you're in a wheelchair you can't even go down our sidewalk if a scooter's right there.  You know, public transit and freedom to move throughout your own city is life, liberty, and happiness.  And I take it as my responsibility to ensure that each of you have that and each person has that.  We shouldn't have to ask this question.  We shouldn't have to ‑‑ we should address this before it's a problem and we haven't.  So I promise to look at all avenues and listen to what people want done because then we can really make a change.

>> Marshall Stair. So this question was about transportation and oh my goodness do we have a long way to go.  But I'll start with sort of some progress I think we made at the 21 bus in our sort of smaller buses we updated them where they could load wheelchair passengers through the front and if you've ever ‑‑ if you've been on the old ones where he had the driver had to get out and load them through the back, anyway, took quite a bit longer and I think it's better for ‑‑ certainly better for the wheelchair riders but better for the driver, for everyone.  So I think that was an improvement.  One place we have, and I talk a lot about it on my campaign, are bus stops.  We have over 12,000 ‑‑ or 1200 bus stops and only, I think it's around 50 or so, shelters.  So less than half of a percent of our bus stops have sheltered.  Most of them, I mean, you wouldn't even want to be there regardless if you're disabled or not but they're not even close to being handicap accessible so there’s huge room for improvement here and I think we need to start with our most ridden lines, do an assessment of where we can make progress on this but it's certainly a passion of mine and something I have been talking about sort of giving all riders dignity and that's so important as we grow as a city to increase public transportation making it a comfortable option.

>> Indya Kincannon. I think I already answered this one but I have something to add.  Did I?  Then I'll let you go to the next question.

>> Mark Allan. Ninth question will go to Eddie Mannis first.  Homeless is a term that goes a lot deeper than what is actually seen on the surface and is greater than just mental illness and addiction, veterans, persons with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, individuals with job loss, individuals not qualifying for services, opioid addiction, et cetera.  How do you perceive homelessness in Knoxville and how are you going to combat this issue during your term as mayor?

>> Eddie Mannis. Yeah, our homeless challenge is tremendous in Knoxville and nearly 40 percent of the homeless population across the country are individuals with disabilities.  So I think that is an important statistic to remember.  Many of these individuals as you said are also veterans and in some cases in many cases their disability is related to their service, their time and service.  Within the first 100 days I will ‑‑ my administration will work to assemble a working group to address homelessness, work with the office of homelessness to rework the city's current plan to address our challenge.  But when we look at homelessness, it's a very big undertaking and so what I would like to do first is work through the process and focus on the veteran side of homelessness and make sure that we work with the county that expand our Veterans Administration services and make sure we really have no veteran that is living on the streets that we give them an opportunity to work with Helen Ross McNabb and our other partners to do so.  And then the other concern that I have with homelessness, those individuals aging out of foster care, at 18 years old you're dropped off at the mission if you have no other place to go. I think it's important to really work to find programs for those individuals and then we will work toward the middle and service all of our homeless population but we must do better with our homeless challenge than what we've done in the past:  It's a big undertaking there's no easy answer.

>> Calvin Skinner. As a faith leader and co-pastor I know this is a moral imperative for us to address, not to see as a nuisance but such an issue that faith institutions, nonprofits and also the City have an all hands‑on deck approach.  Additionally, we all need to look in the inequities, the unfairness that happens.  I’m told stories of those persons who can't obtain housing because they have an eviction no fault of their own but because of vandal wars and their abuse and policies folks have been pushed out or those who violated may have perceived to violate a matter because they had a domestic violence dispute no fault of their own.  They are pushed out.  We have to look at the system and how we can fix it, why is it broken, why has it been broken for so long, and then also in addition to the community partners who are doing great work in this area, also pooling other best practices such as Project Home in Philadelphia, good friend of mine Caroline Crouch she is doing great work to combat the homeless issue in Philadelphia.  Those are the persons I would pool in to address this.

>> Fletcher Burkhardt.  You know, homelessness is an issue and I've been saying there are three types by choice, by chance and by mental health.  First and Foremost, Knoxville needs a mental health facility.  Losing Lakeshore our community took a hit.  We can say housing first but when we say we have a housing problem what does that even mean?  Are we just going to do nothing?  We need to address these issues creatively because I believe that purpose and community can change lives.  Look at what Austin Texas is doing where they're building tiny home communities and RVs, requiring people to pay rent but they offer them jobs.  Look at Albuquerque New Mexico where their city is hiring homeless people to give them a second chance to pick up trash, pull weeds, sort recycling, whatever it is.  You can look at Dublin, Ireland, even. They’re training homeless people to give tours of the city., they get social skills, job experience and a wage.  Housing first hasn’t worked for our city. We still have the problem, it's gotten worse.  It’s important and I think we do need to make efforts to have housing first but we need to start to get creative with how the problems at their core because I believe as a city and as a community we can change the by chance and mental health and we need to be intentional, need to keep listening and pushing forward because it's not getting better right now so we need to start trying something new.

>> Marshall Stair. Thank you all so much for coming out tonight this is the last question and certainly an important one.  And it's something that, you know, there's not an easy solution and a lot of cities across the country are wrestling with it just like Knoxville.  In terms of what we can do, one is help people stay in their homes.  This is efforts on affordable housing, rental assistance funds.  You know, we're seeing more female homeless, for families homeless, do everything we can to keep those people in their homes.  Two is be more aggressive, get out into the community, find the people, get them on a path to housing.  We're never going to be able to address their issues whether it's substance abuse or mental health or job skills or education if they remain homeless.  And then lastly work to get the State back involved some individuals will need intensive care for a long time and we need those resources at the table and that's so important but, again, thank you all for coming out tonight.  My name's Marshall Stair and would love to earn your vote in August.

>> Indya Kincannon.  I believe our homeless challenge is very acute.  I live in ‑‑ a few blocks off of Broadway and go by ‑‑ have homeless people walking in and around my neighborhood, in and around my campaign headquarters.  I went to the block party under the bridge, I went to the block party in Sam Duff park.  I believe that our current community wide effort is good and could be better.  But I've attended the Mayor's Round Table where there are leaders there and leaders of the organizations that are trying to serve the homeless and I'm really pleased about the HMIS, the information system we have to help understand the various needs which you've listed in this question and I believe that for all those different needs we need different strategies.  So I think the champ, I can't remember what champ stands for but it's an assessment tool so the people with the most acute needs get housing first.  I support the housing first strategy where you give people a roof over their head and then try to address their economic mental health accessibility issues.  I also ‑‑ I'm really pleased that we have street outreach workers through VMC, through Next Step Initiative that helps treat people like human beings first and foremost because a lot of people who are street homeless have lost trust in the organizations that are trying to serve them.  So they need to feel the love of the community before they're willing to take advantage of the resources of the community.

>> Mark Allan. That was all the questions we have tonight but we'd like I believe to give each candidate 90 seconds to have their closing ‑‑ sorry, Marshall you sort of got that at the end but I think you need to leave anyway so thank you for coming tonight.  But we'd like to start with Calvin since everybody got two questions up front we'll start with you for any closing statements you would like to make?

>> Calvin Skinner. All right.  Thank you again CODI for having us.  Certainly this is an important issue and priority, should be priority in the City.  I'm Calvin Taylor Skinner and I am grateful to, again, tell the story of Knoxville, but the Knoxville, the full Knoxville story, has not been told and this campaign is to assure that the full representation of Knoxville is here and is strong and not only do we recognize or should recognize the issues that we are addressing and the solutions we are coming up with, address the matters in this community, but Knoxville as I've been in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., the nation is looking for a model, a model city to address the moral Compass that has gone awry, the dysfunction that continues to persist, Knoxville should be in the forefront of those conversations, Knoxville should be on the headlines of what is going on well instead of what's not going well.  So my campaign Calvin Taylor Skinner.com, you can find all of our information there.  We're on Facebook and Instagram and you can find what we are doing to ensure that the vision is ignited, Knoxville is one and we are doing great things in this world.

>> Fletcher Burkhardt.  First and foremost thank you for inviting us out here.  I always struggle talking to people because I'd rather talk with people.  I believe in relationships and communication and I think we need a government that represents that.  We need a mayor who's committed to each person in his city.  We need someone who's willing to wake up every morning and give every ounce of their being and energy to the city to make it a better version of itself every single day.  I don't think anything any of us ever do will prepare us for opportunity or job like this and all I can say is that I'm committed to you, committed to listening to the community, committed to giving my all every single day.  I'm tired of feeling like I'm never heard.  I'm a normal guy who works for a living and I just live a life and I give every day for this city and I look forward to giving every ounce of my being to this community.  Obviously I’m born and raised here, my name's Fletcher “Knoxville” Burkhardt.  I got the nickname in college because my rugby teammates said I wouldn't stop talking about my hometown.  I was always like come visit, let me show you around, you're going to love this.  I love this city, love its people, I love everything about it but I think we need to show the world who we are, we need to market and brand our city to get more revenue so we can really address some of these cyclical problems that we're seeing.  We need to be intentional and creative.  Thank you so much.

>> Indya Kincannon.  Thank you all so much for having this forum.  I think it has raised my awareness on disability issues and the role of CODI.  I was pretty well acquainted with the role but wanted to commend you all on running one of the best forums that we’ve had, we've had a few I think, and you all run a good meeting and I know you run a good council too and I am asking for your vote because I think I'm the best candidate with the most life and leadership experience to be an effective mayor for everybody.  One thing I think is really important is since I'm familiar with all the boards and commissions of this city, this is one of only two that's called the Mayor's Council on Disability Issues.  I feel when I'm mayor I'm going to be especially associated with Mayor's CODI because it has the word mayor in it and there’s a reason for that, and that's because accessibility is important for everybody in the whole city.  My name's Indya Kincannon and I'd love to earn your vote as the next Mayor.

>> Eddie Mannis. Thank you very much for everything that you do from the CODI organization and from the Office of Disability that Stephanie heads up.  It is an important effort and important issue in our community and I think that for 34 years of being in business in the customer business specifically I've said this before, I don't have all the answers but one thing I've learned from the private sector service business is to listen and I don't think any of us have all the answers but I will commit myself to listening and like I said when I started, I am ‑‑ I pride myself in seeking out challenges and opportunities for business to make business better but I also will do the same thing as your mayor for the city of Knoxville.  It's important that we have in my mind executive leadership skills and I have leadership skills in the public and the private sector and so I hope that you will allow me the opportunity to lead this city for many years to come and I appreciate the opportunity to be here tonight.  Thank you.

>> Mark Allan. Candidates I wanted to say that there were some individuals that wanted to ask questions tonight but because everything was so planned to the minute we have asked if they would provide their questions to us and then we can get them to you all and then you all would get responses back, we'll make sure that they get posted on the same webpages as the transcript of tonight's forum and everything else has been posted just so you're not tossed questions when you're not expecting them. Is that okay?

>> Indya Kincannon. That's fine.  Anybody who has questions now in‑person like after we conclude, I'm staying to have more conversation.

>> Mark Allan. Candidates, we appreciate your time, your effort, willingness to be here tonight so that the community can hear where you stand on these issues.  Just think, before long, one of you may be our new boss of CODI so we're trying to behave but we look forward, CODI looks forward to working with whoever is our mayor to make Knoxville a better place for all.  We appreciate the audience that they behaved very well tonight.  Thank you.  Didn't hear any phones, any uproars.  After we give everybody a round of applause like Indya just said the candidates can be in the back, people can take time to meet with them ask them any questions, that would be great.  Again we appreciate you.

[APPLAUSE]

>>Mark Allan. I forgot to go to Misha.  Misha will tell you while we're walking away what our Web site is and we have a Facebook.  CODI also has meetings every second Wednesday at 4:00 in the small assembly room that everybody can come to.

>> Misha Byrne. As you're gathering everything up, I would like to say first of all thank you to each one of our candidates.  Thank you to all the CODI members who worked very hard to put this together tonight, as well as each and every one of our audience members, thank you all so much.  I would love if you would follow us on Facebook.  The address is Facebook.com/CityofKnoxvilleCODI.  You can also find meeting schedules, minutes, and Mayoral Forum questions on our Web site, KnoxvilleTN.gov/CODI and last but not least we would really appreciate it if you would take our survey to help make Knoxville the most disability and senior friendly city -  CLICK HERE.  Thank you so much everyone.  Good night.