Knox Commerce

City Council to Gain Majority of New Members

(from left to right): Seema Singh Perez, District 3; Gwen McKenzie, District 6; Lauren Rider, District 4; City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero; Stephanie Welch, District 1; and Andrew Roberto, District 2.
Photo credit: Traci K. McDonell, City of Knoxville

BY: AMY NOLAN

Five new members of City Council, victorious after a city-only election in which 13 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, will be sworn in to office at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building.

Voters on Nov. 7 swept in a historic number of women, with four of the five new members being female. The winners – Stephanie Welch, Andrew Roberto, Seema Singh Perez, Lauren Rider and Gwen McKenzie – succeeded council members who were term-limited.

The candidates had earlier prevailed in the primary election, where only District residents could vote for their representatives. Voters city-wide could cast ballots for all the District winners in the November election.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, who will be working with a Council consisting of a majority of new members, noted that the 11,735 votes cast represented “one of the biggest voter turnouts in the past quarter-century. There was a significant increase in voter engagement.”

Stephanie Welch, chief operating officer of the Great Schools Partnership, won by the largest margin, with 73 percent versus 26 percent for Rebecca Parr. Welch will succeed Council member Nick Pavlis in representing District 1.

In races where observers predicted tighter margins, Knoxville lawyer Andrew Roberto bested Wayne Christensen 59 percent to 41 for the District 2 seat, and Seema Singh Perez, a counselor and small business owner, won over James Corcoran, 58 percent to 42 percent. Roberto will succeed Vice Mayor Duane Grieve, and Perez will succeed Council Member Brenda Palmer.

Lauren Rider, a librarian at Pellissippi State Community College, was the top vote-getter in the District 4 primary and cruised to victory city-wide with 49 percent of the vote over Harry Tindell (32 percent) and write-in candidate Amelia Parker (19 percent).

CVS Health executive advisor Gwen McKenzie won the District 6 seat over Jennifer Montgomery. The split in that race was 58 percent to 42 percent.

More about the Council members-elect can be found here.