Speech from Inauguration

Mayor

Indya Kincannon
mayor@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Indya KincannonMayor Indya Kincannon
2019 Inaugural Speech
December 21, 2019 
Bijou Theatre

 

Thank you all for being here. I am honored by your presence and so grateful for the incredible privilege of serving as the next Mayor of Knoxville.

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Mayor Rogero - Thank you for all you have done for our city.  You are a role model and an inspiration. You lifted up the voices of so many and took our city to new heights. 

Of all your accomplishments, perhaps the most significant to me, to my daughters and to all the women of our community, is that you showed that women can be amazing leaders. Thank you for shattering Tennessee’s glass ceiling! 

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I thought it fitting to have this ceremony here at the Bijou Theater -  a gathering place for generations of Knoxvillians. 
 
Whenever I’m here and especially now on this stage, I’m in awe of the skilled hands that built it more than 100 years ago, and those that have lovingly restored it. 

Thank you to the Bijou Theatre for hosting us today.  

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I want to thank all the elected officials, both current and former, who are here today.  From School Board to Governor, we are all part of the representative democracy that makes our country great.  And for the record, I think School Board is the hardest job of any elected office!

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I’d like to send a special shout-out to all the people who believed in me during this campaign and pushed me past those inevitable times when success seemed elusive.  
 
In particular, to my husband Ben, our daughters, Dahlia and Georgia, my sister Alex, and all my family here today: Thank you for being with me every step of the way.  I am glad to have you by my side as we begin this journey.   
 
I want to thank my parents - Louis and Claire Kincannon, for all the support they gave me. Even though they can’t be here today, they are with me in spirit. My mom’s actually watching the livestream – Hi Mom! 
 
My Mom taught me to love playing and watching sports, and that women can be bosses!  My belated Father started at an entry level job with the Census Bureau and over 4 decades rose to the top job as Director.  From my Dad I learned that public service is meaningful work that can change lives for the better.

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I also want to reach out to my opponents, in particular Marshall Stair and Eddie Mannis, and express my appreciation for a campaign season that Knoxville can be proud of, a civil campaign about ideas and vision and not about personalities.  
  
Our country can seem pretty divided these days -- but in Knoxville, we find common ground and work together to address our challenges
 
I am here today to be a mayor for ALL Knoxvillians, no matter who you voted for or if you voted at all.  I will listen to and serve ALL the people of our great city.

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We are neighbors. We walk the same sidewalks, use the same parks, shop in the same stores, and dream of a vibrant city even if we prefer different paths to get there. 

We must listen to each other. 

As we enter this great civic conversation, each of us brings with us our own experiences and life stories that shape our relationship with government and our vision for Knoxville.
 
During the campaign, I had the privilege of listening to many narratives, the unique stories, of people across Knoxville. 
 
I heard from neighborhood leaders who asked me to help address the challenges facing their communities – from traffic calming to gun violence. 
 
I heard from small business owners who see opportunity to unleash the power of entrepreneurship by reducing government red tape.  
 
I heard from young people, excited to carve out their place in our city’s future and eager to pursue new pathways to opportunity. 
 
I heard from those who are new to Knoxville and new to our country -- like my friend Yassin -- who so very much want to feel welcome as they begin a new life in our city.
 
I heard from life-long residents who work hard every day but who wonder if they’ll be able to afford to live in Knoxville as our city grows and evolves.
 
I heard from developers ready to breathe new life into vacant lots, but who ask for clear rules and procedures that respect the risks they take.  
 
I heard from those who recognize the climate crisis and urge us to respond boldly and with urgency.
 
I heard from Makers and artists whose creative spirit are what makes Knoxville unique. 

I heard from people in every neighborhood, homeowners and renters, who want good jobs, safe neighborhoods and a healthy environment in which to live and raise their families.  
 
Sometimes these narratives complement each other. Often they do not. One thing I know, is that we make better decisions when we show respect for all of these perspectives.  As your Mayor I will continue to listen, and seek to better understand the experiences of all who we serve.    
 
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I’m grateful to be joined in this effort by City Council, and I look forward to working with our new and returning Council members.
 
Each one of you offers a unique point of view that will make our conversations richer and our decisions more collaborative. 
 
When we disagree, I hope that we will remember that our diversity of opinion reflects the diversity of our residents.
 
Let us govern with respect for each other and with recognition of our shared goal to help the people of Knoxville thrive. 
 
Of course our job is not only to listen to each other and our constituents. Our job is also to lead. 
 
Leading takes many forms, beginning with the basics. We elect mayors to make sure the essential work of government is done. 
 
We must make sure people are safe and secure. 

We must be wise and prudent stewards of public dollars and public spaces.

We must manage our infrastructure so that families and businesses can function and flourish. 
 
Leading often means finding the common ground when there is conflict. Our resolutions must be fair and transparent.
 
However,  being a leader is more than being a referee.  Leadership is about vision. It’s about setting a compass toward a better future and forging a path wide enough for all to walk it with you. 
 
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As a Knoxville resident and especially as a new Mayor, I stand here today with immense gratitude for the vision and leadership of my predecessors. 
 
Mayor Tyree, Mayor Ashe, Mayor – Governor – Haslam, Mayor Brown, and of course, Mayor Rogero:  I am humbled to have you here as I accept the same torch of leadership that each of you have held. 
 
Because of your leadership, Knoxville is no longer a city that lacks confidence.  No longer envious of other cities, we instead celebrate our identity as we craft a future rooted in authenticity – a future that lives up to the ideal of who we can be and what we can do together. 
 
Knoxville has blossomed and we have reimagined our scruffy City. 
  
Through their leadership, we have doubled down on our commitment to diversity, to inclusion, to equal rights, and to supporting those who are less fortunate. 
 
Mayor Rogero in particular made sure that our vision respected and protected our natural environment. She championed the urban wilderness and embedded an ethic of sustainability into all of her decisions. 
 
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The progress we’ve made is tangible. We can see it, feel it. 
 
And yet, our success in some areas has, at times, only sharpened the contrast between the work we’ve done and the work we still have left to do. 

Some people in our community are still waiting for their turn. 
 
Even amidst a strong economy many people struggle to find stable careers and can’t afford decent housing. 
 
And, all the while, the pressures of climate change, of poverty, and of polarized politics heighten tensions while increasing the urgency of action. 
 
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My vision for Knoxville is of a city that always puts people first. 
 
When we invest our time, treasure, and talent, we will do so in ways that benefit the people who live here. 
 
I envision an empowered community – one in which all people, regardless of income or zip code, have clear pathways to inform and influence the trajectory of our decisions.  
 
As your mayor, I aim always to listen with an open heart and open mind, and to open doors toward more collaborative decision making at all levels of government. 
 
I envision a community where all families have opportunity – the opportunity to find meaningful work, to afford a home, and to invest in their children’s futures.
 
As your mayor, I will work to strengthen career pathways, foster entrepreneurship, and embrace innovative strategies to invest in our people. We will seek a more equitable economy that works for all. 
 
I envision a sustainable community where both our people and our planet are healthy and protected from the worst effects of climate change.
 
As your Mayor, I will build partnerships to advance bold, innovative actions that protect our natural environment, promote resiliency, and improve quality of life for us and for the generations that follow. Knoxville will lead by example. 
 
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The journey ahead of us will not always be easy. It will not be quick.  It will take all of us working and walking alongside each other, as neighbors and as colleagues. 
 
Let us welcome to the journey those who come to us searching for a new life and new opportunity. Let us reach out to those who find themselves on the outside or lagging behind. Let us know each other’s names as we walk the same streets.
 
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to lead Knoxville as we embark on the next leg of this journey together. 
 
Earlier this month I went to Boston for a seminar for new Mayors.   We got to visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and I will end by sharing a quote from his inaugural address that inspired me as I take the torch as Mayor:
 
All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. 
Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, 
Nor in the life of this Administration,
Nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.
But let us begin.
 
Let us begin. 
 
Thank you.