Knox Commerce

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE PROFILE: ANDREW ROBERTO (District 2)

CANDIDATE BIO: 

Andrew is a Knoxville native and small business owner as a partner with The Lawyers of Brown & Roberto. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee in 1999 and received his Juris Doctorate from the UT College of Law in 2002.

Andrew serves the Knoxville community in a number of ways. Most recently, Andrew served as a Knox County Election Commissioner. In this role, he worked to encourage voter registration and participation by visiting numerous neighborhood organizations and civic groups. Passionate about community, Andrew serves as chairman of The Salvation Army’s advisory board. In this role, he frequently serves lunch at the soup kitchen and volunteers during the annual Red Kettle campaign. In recognition of his service, the organization presented him with their Partner in Mission Award in 2012. He was only the 33rd person nationwide to receive this recognition.

Andrew served on the executive committee of the 2014 Congressional Medal of Honor Convention held in Knoxville, worked closely with the Tennessee Veterans Business Association, sponsored Celebrate Recovery in North Knoxville, and partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation. Andrew serves on the Sertoma Center Board and he and his family are members of Cokesbury United Methodist Church.

CANDIDATE Q&A:

What are three factors you feel are most critical to continuing Knoxville’s steady economic growth? How do you plan to support these factors?

1. Encouraging private sector investment – Over the past 15 years, there has been a focus on the redevelopment of downtown. Through the TIF and PIOLT programs the city has encouraged private sector investment without our city writing a check. In these programs, we have seen 51 properties with a beginning assessed value of about $50 million transform through private investment to a projected assessed value at the end of these projects of half a billion dollars. These properties spur additional private sector investment around them which continues to grow our economy. I am committed to using these programs where appropriate and modernizing our zoning code, to foster positive growth and encourage private investment.

2. Focusing on our strengths – I’ve lived in Knoxville my entire life and I have seen the progress we have made first hand. Our best progress has been made by leveraging our regional strengths. From our regional economic partners like Oak Ridge National Lab, The University of Tennessee, and TVA to our natural resources like the Great Smoky Mountains and the riverfront, we have strengths that should be the envy of cities around the country. The South Knox Urban Wilderness is a wonderful example of the city leading by investments in infrastructure to leverage a regional strength. We have so many unique features that make Knoxville a wonderful place to work and live, I will work hard to ensure we leverage our strengths to further grow our economy.

3. A balanced approach – Growth is going to occur and that’s a good thing, but we want to make sure that we grow in a positive way balancing the interests of economic growth while protecting our neighborhoods and our quality of life. Strong vibrant neighborhoods where we feel comfortable investing in homes and raising children drives positive economic growth and encourages private sector investment. I am committed to maintaining the balanced approach that has been so successful in Knoxville.

What is the biggest challenge facing Knoxville businesses today? How do you plan to address this issue if elected?

Overhauling our local zoning code is the largest challenge facing Knoxville business today. There is a great deal of private sector investment that is being held back by the current system which was drafted in the 1960s with its 44 zones that are confusing and outdated. By modernizing our zoning code, we can foster growth by building in simplicity, clarity of use, and the stability necessary to encourage investment and strengthen our neighborhoods. Specifically, I want to address mixed-use as an option in higher density areas and overall use this update to encourage positive development and more walkable and bike-friendly spaces. Simply put, development follows infrastructure, so by modernizing our code with interpretability and enforceability in mind, we can encourage the kind of positive investment we all want to see in Knoxville. Ultimately, I want to see the kind of collaboration between neighborhoods and business represented in the Bearden Urban Village plan replicated citywide.

In what specific ways would you like to see Knoxville’s young professionals more engaged in our community?

Knoxville’s greatest strength is our people, we are innovative and hard working. Throughout this campaign, I have spoken with local business owners and entrepreneurs and want to encourage our young professionals to actively use their talents to make a positive impact on our community. Starting a business or working on your professional career is a full-time job, but I want to encourage our young professionals to serve our community as well. There are so many great non-profits in our community to support and volunteer to help improve Knoxville for all of us. When confronted with a significant challenge it is easy to see what you can offer as insignificant, but whatever we can do, in whatever way we can, makes a huge difference to those in need. Finally, I want to encourage our young professionals to be active participants in our electoral process. When I was a Knox County Election Commissioner, I encouraged everyone to register to vote and participate in our electoral process. I truly believe that Knoxville is better when everyone participates. Our young professionals have a lot of energy and talent to offer our community, and I want to encourage their engagement in our community.

All candidate profile information was submitted by the candidate’s election campaign committee. The Knoxville Chamber does not support or endorse candidates in local elections. 

Click here to register for the Young Professional Candidate Forum on Oct. 4.