Staff writer Evan Mays sat with Knoxville mayoral candidate Indya Kincannon on Wednesday, Oct. 2. Campaign challenges and goals were discussed in this exclusive interview.

As my camerawoman Kailee and I made our way to the makeshift Kincannon for Mayor headquarters in the heart of Knoxville, we were greeted by the friendly face belonging to Indya Kincannon.

Kincannon placed second in the August mayoral primary, giving her the opportunity to move forward to the runoff election.

We sat down at a large table in the center of the room. The table contained knick-knacks and various objects, along with a bowl of candy containing flavored Tootsie Rolls — my favorite.

As Kincannon awaited the interview to commence, she paced the room, making phone calls and speaking with her campaign advisors. But, as we settled into our places and the interview began, I got to see a glimpse at the woman behind the candidate.

Kincannon’s background

Indya Kincannon made one thing clear: She and her husband are Vols for life. She told me about her family’s move to Knoxville after her husband accepted a teaching position at the university.

She discussed her prior political experience, serving on the Knox County School Board and eventually becoming the Chairwoman.

“We made a lot of progress,” Kincannon said. “During my time, there was a lot of change going on in Tennessee education, and we raised our standards and got a lot better outcomes and graduation rates for kids across the county.”

She also discussed how proud she was to add language to the county’s bullying policy to protect LGBTQ+ students.

After 10 years on the Board, Kincannon went to work for Mayor Madeline Rogero from 2015 to 2018.

“I learned a lot (while working with Mayor Rogero) and only left because I’m running to succeed her,” Kincannon said.

On the issues

One common issue that candidates, even Kincannon’s opponent Eddie Mannis, often talk about is being eco-friendly and protecting the environment. Kincannon strays from the pack on this issue, however. On her website, when listing the issues she thinks are impacting Knoxville most, Kincannon lists climate change.

I asked her to elaborate on why she decided to include climate change as something she cares about in a local election.

“Well, I believe climate change is real,” Kincannon said simply.

She went on to say that it is important to start doing things about it.

“Act globally, think locally,” Kincannon said.

Kincannon discussed her ambitious plans to make sure Knoxville does its part to help solve the climate crisis, including appointing a “mayor’s climate council.” The council would work to ensure the city of Knoxville is more energy efficient and cuts down its emissions, according to Kincannon.

In regards to collaborating with the students, faculty and administration at UT, Kincannon said she wants “strong town-grown relationships.”

“I want to collaborate on everything from traffic issues, to sustainability issues, to arts and culture things,” Kincannon said.

Conclusions

While some may assume Kincannon’s second place finish back in August spells trouble for her campaign, from my conversation with her, she knows what works and what doesn’t based on her primary performance. If those primary numbers are any indication, her opponent Mannis possesses a fair lead over her.

“Our goal was to finish top two, and we reached that goal,” Kincannon said. “Our goal for the general is to finish first, and we’re working hard every day to do that.”

Despite the election being nonpartisan, Kincannon is a known democrat and Mannis is a known republican. Most of the former mayoral candidates who did not make it through the primary were also democrats or liberal-leaning, so one would assume most of the voters who voted for them in the primary will cast their votes for Kincannon in November.

For more information on Kincannon and her candidacy, watch the full interview above.

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