December 17, 2007 - Bill Haslam was inaugurated
for a second term as Knoxville's 69th Mayor Saturday in the Tennessee
Amphitheater at World's Fair Park.
Judge Sharon G. Lee of the Tennessee Court of Appeals administered
the oath of office to Haslam, who was joined at the podium by his
wife, Crissy, his daughters, Annie and Leigh and son Will and daughter-in-law,
Also sworn into office during the ceremony Saturday were four Knoxville
City Council members who were reelected earlier this year including
Joe Bailey, Marilyn Roddy and Chris Woodhull, who are all at large
council members, and Bob Becker, who represents the city's 5th District.
They, along with Haslam, were elected to their first terms in office
four years ago.
Knoxville City Judge John R. Rosson Jr. was also sworn in Saturday
after being reelected in September.
Haslam opened his inaugural address by thanking his family, city
council, other elected officials and the people of Knoxville.
"The main thing I want to do today is to thank you for the
privilege of being Mayor of the City of Knoxville," Haslam
said. "I really do mean that. Last week, I was walking down
the middle of Gay Street during the Christmas Parade and I kept
thinking about how much I love this job."
"Not because parades are my favorite thing, but because this
is a city full of people who care about this wonderful place that
we call home," he added. "It is hard for me to express
to you how grateful I am for the chance to do this job four more
About 500 people attended the inauguration, the first event that
has been held in the newly restored Tennessee Amphitheater.
The Amphitheater and the nearby Sunsphere, both icons of the 1982
World's Fair, had sat closed and empty for years.
They were renovated and reopened this year - at no cost to the
city's taxpayers - under a plan developed by the administration
and approved by council to use proceeds from the sale of the Candy
Factory to restore them.
Haslam told his audience that Knoxville has made great strides
during the past four years but those steps are the only the beginning.
"All of us, returning council members, new council members,
and the new administration knew that we had challenges," he
said before adding that the greatest one was changing the culture
of local government.
"In many ways, I really think the most important thing we
have done in the last four years is building that culture of confidence
and optimism," Haslam said.
Along the way he pointed out that the city has seen continued momentum
downtown including the establishment of the new Regal Theatre and
Mast General Store among other highlights.
The City government's financial position is much stronger today
than it was in 2003 and Knoxville's economy overall has also improved.
"The city is in a strong financial position and it's easier
to make decision when the wolf is not at the door," he said.
Haslam cited successes like the location of the Sysco Distribution
System in Knoxville and the expansion of Scripps Network's headquarters.
But he added, "We have to continue making progress if we are
going to create the jobs that we want for our kids in the future
and if we are going to keep our taxes low by bringing in new investments
to keep our economy strong."
During the next four years he said his goals include:
expanding downtown's success to Knoxville's inner ring of neighborhoods
and businesses and in the South Waterfront Development
beginning the process of having one billion dollars in new investment
in the South Waterfront over the next 20 years
developing thriving, and connected, neighborhoods and increasing
numbers of businesses in Downtown North and the Cumberland Avenue
and Fort Sanders area, while continuing to prosper downtown
keeping taxes low by bringing in new investments
working on long-term issues like flooding in North Knoxville,
paving more streets and adding more sidewalks and making neighborhoods
stronger by addressing things like chronic problem properties.
continuing to support Knox County Schools, which received nearly
$100 million from the city last year - or more than 70 percent of
the city's sales tax collections. Knoxville is only obligated to
send 50 percent of its sales taxes to the schools but opts to send
more because, "there is nothing more important in building
great neighborhoods than having great schools."
To accomplish those goals, Haslam said, will take hard work, responsible
stewardship of taxpayer money and the willingness on the part of
both the administration and council to be willing to try new ideas
to make Knoxville a better place for everyone.
Haslam pointed out that he and every council member has been in
office at least four years and has learned a great deal in that
time. He also indicated that he and all nine council members are
term limited and want to do everything they can to use that experience
to make the city better during these next four years.
Haslam said there isn't a "magic box" called government
where you place all your wishes before the money magically appears
to pay for them.
Instead, "Good government involves making hard decisions about
valid but competing needs. It means getting great value for the
taxes our citizens pay."
He finished his remarks saying, "May God bless each of us as
we celebrate this wonderful season of light and anticipation and
may he bless our city."