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Q&A with the Knoxville Mercury



Age: 38
Occupation: COO & Co-founder at Cirrus Insight
Education: BA Political Science, MBA, JD
Volunteer Work: CodeTN, Junior Achievement of East Tennessee board, The Muse children’s science museum board, Dogwood Arts board, Northshore Elementary School PTA, United Way Investment Committee on Health & Basic Needs, tnAchieves mentor, Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) mentor, Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP) mentor.

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
I think the most overlooked issue is jobs and economic growth. Knoxville has more than $90 million in the bank and our economy is strong overall, but we can’t rest on our laurels. I want to build on our momentum by investing in education and job training, cutting red tape to encourage new companies to start and existing companies to grow, and setting as our goal to lead the state of Tennessee in the creation of high-quality jobs.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
A 1 percent increase in unemployment rate causes violent crime to increase by 31 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. I would work to increase education, job training, and the availability of jobs in urban neighborhoods to better address the cycle of violence. The Change Center is a great example of a project that my wife and I believe can make a big difference. One of the most promising aspects of The Change Center is that there will be 60-80 part-time jobs for young people every six months. The on-the-job training and experience they’ll gain will equip them for careers in the community. Chief Rausch and our police department are working hard every day to keep our community safe, and we’re joining them and the Mayor and many others to support The Change Center.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
There is a lot of exciting development happening in the Second District which stretches from Turkey Creek to West Town Mall to the Shops at Bearden to the University of Tennessee campus. For example, my neighbor Bettina Hamblin just opened a restaurant called the Farmacy. My Leadership Knoxville classmate Jake Ogle will soon open a restaurant called Scrambled Jake’s. The re-development of Western Plaza will add offices, retail, and residential to Kingston Pike in Bearden and help make the area one of the centers of gravity for the city. I will work closely with neighborhoods, business associations, the news media, and the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce to support these new local companies and development projects, and continue the great momentum we have in the Second District and citywide.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
I’ve been driving, biking, and walking around Second District a lot lately. I think one of the most pressing needs is connectivity. I want to focus on improving traffic flow, and adding sidewalks and bike paths to connect neighborhoods with schools, grocery stores, restaurants, and retail. These connections improve health through exercise, increase safety because people are outside looking out for each other, drive local economic growth and jobs, and make for vibrant and accessible neighborhoods for residents of all ages.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
I literally stand out because of my height–I’m 6’8”. I also bring a unique perspective as founder of Cirrus Insight which was the fastest-growing company in Tennessee last year. As a member of City Council, I would work to advance big ideas for Knoxville. For example: 1) Lead the state in the creation of high-quality jobs in Knoxville, 2) Bring Gig high-speed Internet to residents and companies throughout the city, 3) Create savings accounts for all students in Knoxville. In the meantime, prior to the election we’ll be breaking the world record for the number of kids learning to code at one time in Knoxville this September. I’ve posted information on my website at and on Facebook at

To read the Q&A with every candidate, please visit the Knoxville Mercury website.