December 20, 2003
Thank you very much.
I believe in the words "thank you" and today is a day where
I can't say those words enough.
To Senator Fred Thompson, thank you for raising the profile of the state
through your years of public service and now for giving us a reason to
stay up late on Wednesday nights.
To the elected officials who have gathered here today from the city,
the county, the state, and the nation, thank you for your service and
for the hard work we will share together.
To Mayor Ashe, thank you for your tireless energy in leading our city.
Giving sixteen years of your life to any endeavor is a sacrifice, but
you have made that sacrifice worthwhile as you have left your mark on
Knoxville through your efforts on Parks and Greenways, Historic Preservation,
and a real commitment to diversity. This square where we meet today is
but one of the tangible reflections of your leadership as Mayor. In today's
world, it is notable that in your entire sixteen years, there was never
a hint of impropriety or a touch of scandal. Mayor Ashe, we all thank
For the retiring members of Council, thank you for your years of service
to our city. To the returning and new council members, thank you for the
ideas and passion you will bring to your positions as we work to shape
the future and the city. I look forward to working with you.
To Crissy and my family, I can never thank you enough for the love and
support you have given me. I am blessed with so much in life, but nothing
compares to the joy you have given me.
And to all of you who've joined us today, thank you for being a part
of this special celebration and for your commitment to Knoxville. I really
am grateful for your presence.
As I stand before you, I feel a rush of emotions: excitement and pride
in our city, and I'm humbled by the opportunity to serve. To all of you
who helped us get here, Thanks. When I decided to do this almost two years
ago, I didn't really know what I was getting into. But, your hard work
and encouragement gave me a real passion for taking on this job and helped
me set the expectation for what our city can be.
Now, let's seize the moment. It's Knoxville's time - the momentum is
with us. I sense a genuine feeling of optimism and good will. There's
been an outpouring of ideas and energy. It's a great way to start a new
We share a sense of great expectation, but let me be clear -- My expectations
are not simply to present a wish list for new projects and initiatives.
We are in a financial environment full of challenges that won't allow
us to simply build our successes on new projects and programs. Rather,
my sense of expectation is built on creating a new culture throughout
our city to expect more than we have in the past from our partners, our
government and each other. It is a new culture that recognizes our strengths,
takes pride in those strengths, and builds upon them to make Knoxville
the best it can be.
The hope for a new culture became clear to me in some quiet moments the
day of the election. After the final day of campaigning, we visited all
the polls we could visit, and I just couldn't sit at home. So, I got in
the car by myself and drove around the city reminiscing about some of
the great moments of the campaign, and thinking about the possibility
of what might be.
Today, I'd like for you to come with me as I revisit that drive and I'll
share with you my vision for this administration.
As we come off of I-40, we pass a vacant building. Imagine that same
building full of energetic employees contributing to our City's productivity.
This can happen as we focus on economic growth.
How many times have I heard you say, I love this town, I've raised my
kids here, I want this to be a place where my children can stay and build
successful lives. The best way to do this is to build a climate for economic
prosperity. We must do a better job of sending that message out throughout
the region and the country. Starting today and every day of this administration,
there is a sign out that reads "Knoxville is Open for Business".
We are going to create a culture that lets companies know that we are
committed to becoming a headquarters city with high-paying jobs, and we
are going to be aggressive in finding ways to show off the strengths of
our partners whether they be Oak Ridge, The University, or the County
because I believe that what is good for the economic development of the
region is good for the city.
I grew up around a small business that took risks over time and grew
store by store. The lessons that I learned around the kitchen table made
a permanent imprint in my mind. Small businesses are the engine for job
creation and real growth. To every small businessman and woman who is
sitting at a kitchen table with a business plan and a dream. Knoxville
is a place that will respect and encourage your hard work. Knoxville should
be a place where you can plant the seed for your success and watch it
As we continue our drive, we come to one of our great neighborhoods. During
the campaign, we stood on over 25,000 doorsteps talking to you about your
vision for the city. You said that great City services are important to
you. As a city, we must earn your vote of confidence by putting the highest
priority on delivering first class customer service- home by home, street
by street, neighborhood by neighborhood. In addition, we will move in
a deliberate way to include each of you in the discussion to make sure
that the unique perspective that you bring is heard and reflected in the
process. That process will lead to good government.
I can't promise you that you will like every decision, but here's what
I do promise
that the city of Knoxville will be a model for a government
that you can hold up as honest and forthright. I also promise that each
of my department heads will make citizen input a factor in the decisions
that we make as a team.
The next stop on our drive is a polling place where I saw one of our
campaign volunteers laughing and closing down the polls with one of Madeline's
supporters, both gave unselfishly of their time and energy to make sure
the democratic process works. This expectation is at the heart of our
new culture: Generous -- Community -- Involvement. The tone for growth,
great service, and good government must be set by the administration,
but we cannot achieve any of our hopes and dreams for the city unless
we can count on an outpouring of involvement and volunteerism from all
To the city employee who will provide great service to our citizens,
to the councilperson who must reflect the opinion of his or her constituents,
to the man or woman on the front porch who has plenty of opinions and
ideas, I am going to ask each of you to stretch in your service to our
I will never forget the words that I saw painted on the fallen Berlin
Wall. It read, "When a lot of people do a lot of little things, big
So, let me ask you, "What are your great expectations for your city?"
"What are little things you care most passionately about?" and
then more practically, "What will you do to help us ensure that big
The success of our city isn't dependent upon the members of an administration.
The success of our city isn't going to be solely based on a set of policy
recommendations or council resolutions.
The success of our city will be determined by the entrepreneur who helps
us find innovative ways to bring new capital to the city. The success
of our city will be impacted by the volunteer agency that finds ways to
deliver critical services to our most needy. The success of our city will
be ensured by the neighborhood group that brings solutions rather than
cynicism to our toughest challenges. The success of our city simply will
be charted by YOU.
We've come to the end of our drive but we're just beginning our journey.
I hope that, like me, you are more enthusiastic than ever that, together,
we can make Knoxville a truly great city.
So with that, let me end where I started by thanking you for the work
you have done to give us this opportunity. More importantly, let me thank
you in advance for the work we will do together over the next few years
to bring a new sense of energy to this wonderful place that we call home.
And remember it's Knoxville's time
..Let's seize the moment.
May God bless each of us as we celebrate this wonderful season of light
and anticipation, and may he bless our city as we move forward together.