Indya Kincannon served as Chair and member of the Knox County Board of Education from 2004 -14, overseeing a $450 million budget, 8,000 employees and 60,000 students. In 2014-15, Indya and her family lived in Slovenia for a year, where Indya taught school and her husband did a Fulbright Fellowship. Upon returning, Mayor Madeline Rogero invited Indya to join her team, and Indya worked for the City of Knoxville from 2015-18, overseeing Board and Commission appointments, Community Agency Grants, serving as the Mayor’s school liaison, leading the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee, and numerous other special projects. Indya is mother of two teenage daughters, and has been married to Ben Barton since 1995. After growing up and attending excellent public schools in Virginia, Indya earned a B.A. in History from Haverford College in 1993, and later earned a full scholarship to Princeton University, where she earned a Masters Degree in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning. Indya has dedicated her career to public service, working for federal, state and local governments. Her volunteer service includes 10 years on the Project GRAD Board, Vice President of 4th & Gill Neighborhood Organization, PTA President, youth sports coach for soccer and basketball and Habitat for Humanity leader in Bolivia and Guatemala.


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

I believe the biggest challenge facing Knoxville businesses is an educated workforce. I plan to address this as Mayor by appointing someone as workforce development liaison and talent cultivator. This person will help connect families to opportunities, such as internships, apprenticeships and training. We will elevate trades, such as welding, carpentry and plumbing, helping young people realize that those are well-paying jobs that are in demand and cannot be out-sourced. We will also work to attract and retain innovators who come to Knoxville for ORNL, TVA and UT. This means ensuring a high quality of life, with a vibrant arts and cultural community, excellent parks and greenways, and infrastructure to support entrepreneurs and businesses. This also means ensuring the City of Knoxville embraces diversity and is welcoming, inclusive and equitable.As Mayor I will also focus on supporting families with young children. The more we support children from birth to Kindergarten, the more likely they are to thrive in school and life. I will do this by supporting entities such as Parents as Teachers program. I would explore how the city could partner with child care providers to provide high quality affordable childcare for working parents. For every $1 invested in children, the return to society is $9. Investing in kids is the apex of sound fiscal policy, and helps parents, grandparents and entire families have a more stable and sustainable economic life.

What do you see as the biggest infrastructure needs within the city? How would you address these as mayor?

The biggest infrastructure needs within the city includes maintaining existing and constructing new sidewalks and roads, and addressing our aging stormwater systems. As Mayor I would address these by adopting smart systems to assess where the most critical needs are and act preemptively to fix issues before they become crises.

Among the challenges faced by Knoxville is the state of schools within the city limits, particularly in its core. Although funding schools is the responsibility of Knox County government, what role do you believe the city mayor should play in education?

The city provides over $100 million to Knox County Schools, not to mention KPD officers in schools, crossing guards and myriad other investments to make our schools safe and healthy. As a parent of two kids who have thrived in public schools inside the city, as a PTA leader, a former 10-year Member and Chair of the Knox County Board of Education, 10-year member of Project GRAD Board, and charter member of the Great Schools Partnership Board of Trustees, I am well-acquainted with the strengths and weaknesses of our school system. My role as Mayor would be to support and augment the work of the School Board. I would do this by continuing to support the Community Schools Strategy, which helps the community address students’ non-academic needs so teachers can focus on academics. I would also be an active member of the PGK and GSP Boards, and support the work of the Disparities in Education Outcomes Taskforce.I would also work to strengthen neighborhoods. Schools are only as strong and healthy as the neighborhoods they serve, so by making neighborhoods stronger, more economically integrated, healthier and with more opportunity, that will help our schools thrive. As Mayor I would also lead in the areas beyond KCS’s purview, exploring partnerships to better support families with young children, after-school care for working parents, and connecting KCS graduates to post-graduate training and educational opportunities.

Click here to visit Kincannon’s campaign website and learn more about her views.

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