Hallerin Hill
Tom Ingram
Dr. Robert Overholt
Gloria Ray
Wayne Ritchie


Tom Ingram

Who is he?
Grand moff/president of the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership, a.k.a. the Death Star, er, the Superchamber.

Political chops:
Ingram's been in and around politics for years—Gov. Lamar Alexander's chief of staff, founder of lobbying/P.R. heavyweights the Ingram Group, all-purpose adviser to the high and mighty.

Has he ever been tempted to join the fray?
"I think anybody that's around [politics] is tempted from time to time. But I've never fallen for the temptation."

Why not?
"I appreciate the commitment people make to put their name on the ballot. It's a huge sacrifice. I've got young children and I enjoy other parts of my life, and you give up too much of that."

Why else:
Becoming mayor could be a step down in both salary (currently at $200,000-plus) and clout for Ingram, who makes the papers almost as much as Ashe does these days.

What makes a leader?
"I think someone with a vision of their own, somebody who can elicit vision from the community, bring the community together. I think somebody who is bold and willing to take risks and appreciates the value of leadership versus waiting on things to happen naturally—because they don't often happen naturally. That implies, to me, someone who is willing to give up the office."

Give up the office?
"I think the greatest evil in politics today is it's become a career for too many people. It was never intended to be."

Knoxville's greatest challenges:
"The three areas I've learned in this job that are problems for Knoxville—and these problems aren't unique, but they may be intensified in Knoxville—are, one, our dogged insistence on polarizing ourselves; two, we're so risk-averse and we compromise too quickly rather than sticking our neck out; three, we don't raise the bar high enough. Knoxville is a wonderful place to live with great potential, but too often I think we settle for less than our full potential...If we stretched and looked out 10 or 20 years instead of three years, we'd do a lot of things differently."

Should a mayor spend more time dealing with day-to-day stuff or looking ahead?
Maybe a 40-60 balance. "I think we're all better served when our leaders have more time to lead us in a look ahead."

What would he want as his mayoral legacy?
"I'd like to see Knoxville re-established as clearly the center of our region for business and activity and in terms of initiatives—all the while protecting what we all value as special about Knoxville, in terms of lifestyle, environment, as a great place to live." Sees a convention center—"not just an adequate convention center, but an excellent convention center"—surrounded by attractions to draw people as a key component.

Who would he name a street after?
"Probably nobody living. We went through this in state government. It's nice to honor people while they're alive, but it's risky. I take those kind of honors seriously, and I think if you overdo it, you trivialize it."

Final comment:
"I'm not interested in running for mayor. I don't have any plans to run for mayor."