Students voting in Knoxville's primary election today will likely choose between Bill Haslam and Madeline Rogero, the two major candidates for mayor.
Some students have high expectations for the mayor of Knoxville's involvement in university affairs.
"The mayor should more closely monitor what goes on at the top, so my tuition doesn't increase $200 per semester, and so that UT employees don't have to be laid off," Angie Austin, a junior in English literature, said. "I agree that UT is a city within a city. It has its own government. It has a feeling of community spirit. I think it adds to the bond we have with the city of Knoxville."
Justin Darnell, a freshman in computer science, stressed that local and state affairs are very different.
"With most of the funding coming from the state, the local elections don't affect campus affairs that much," he said. "What they can do are things like supporting security in and around campus, traffic issues, supporting efforts to revitalize downtown, since it's an important cultural interest to the university."
Undergraduates are not the only members of the UT community concerned with the direction of Knoxville's new mayor; faculty and graduate students also expect changes in the new administration.
Many faculty members agree that tonight's winner must take on a progressive attitude to tackle such issues as relations between the city and UT and campus-area homelessness.
"We've stood still for a long time in this city and I think we need some new blood," photojournalism professor Robert Heller says. "You need a progressive mayor who is going to be forward-thinking and not status quo," he said. "They need to maintain good relations with the university."
As part of that progressive attitude, professor Roger Nooe, a faculty member in the College of Social Work, would like to see the creation of a unified approach to address homelessness in Knoxville.
The number of homeless people in the Fort Sanders area concerns many students, and Nooe wants a new mayoral plan to curb the condition.
"We need a community blueprint to address the problem of homelessness," Nooe says.
Students pursuing graduate degrees also offer suggestions for the new mayor.
Affordable housing and job creation are important issues to Mark Finchum, a doctoral student in education. Economical housing in areas surrounding campus should be a priority of the new mayoral office.
The new mayor should also work with businesses to provide flexible part-time jobs for students, Finchum says.
Other concerns include falling wages, and failing public schools. Tennessee public schools already rank 45 in the nation with a mere 60 percent graduation rate.
However, schools are not the only issue Knoxville residents are worried about.
"Money for one," Richard Smith, a UT employee said. "Quit spending so much money on roads. Every time I turn around they are working on another one."
This year, early voting turnout set a record in Knox County with more than 12,000 citizens casting ballots before election day.
Students voice hopes for mayor
Published: Tue Sep 30, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:27 p.m.