The rating system is on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best.

Knoxville City Council, District 1, Primary Election

David Hayes *

Elizabeth Murphy *****

Tommy Smith **

Knoxville City Council, District 1, Primary Election

David Hayes

Elizabeth Murphy

Tommy Smith

Primary election takes place on August 31, 2021

Recommendation: Recommend Elizabeth Murphy who wants to hold the line on property taxes, is a conservative activist, and is a warrior for constitutional rights. 

David Hayes: Do Not Recommend    

            Overall Rating: 12.8%

Big Government/Small Government Rating: Big 74%; Small 26%              

            Christian World View Rating: Christian 4%; Secular 96%                


Is a proud parent to his one-and-half-year-old with his partner Lisa

Lives in South Knoxville

Is an activist and working-class Knoxvillian

Big Government/Small Government

Budget, Spending, and Taxes          Possible Score            Total Score 15

I do not support raising taxes on working-class Knoxvillians, i.e Knoxvillians with no income, low income, fixed income, and mid-level income with high expenses. I do believe that wealthy individuals and corporations who pay low wages and low taxes while everyday Knoxvillians pay high sales taxes should pay their fair share and contribute to the community and tax base. (17)

A Knoxville For All will mean all residents have a democratic say in the city’s budget and operations, equitable and sustainable development, reasonable utility bills, and a voice in all decisions that affect them. (12)   

Business and Consumers                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 15

We need leadership that will consistently advocate for renters, home owners, and neighborhoods instead of corporate developers and gentrifiers. Once I am elected, District 1 will finally have a representative who fights for all its residents, not just the rich and well connected. (13)

Believes all people deserve good jobs with living wages, affordable homes, safe and healthy communities, and real democracy in our local government. (11)

City development plans catering to the rich and powerful few have resulted in an affordable housing crisis, growing poverty and economic inequality, and permanent displacement of strong Black, Brown, and working class communities. Although it may appear that our city is thriving, these realities show that we need new political leadership with a focus on democracy, equity, and human rights. (17)

Substantial increases in percentages of city contracts awarded to union, Black, and POC contractors (19)

Policies favorable to worker and union rights (18)

A Living Wage – All Knoxvillians should benefit from their labor, rather than putting wealth into the hands of an elite few.  We all deserve good jobs with safe workplaces and living wages. And we all have a right to live in a city with strong unions and an empowered working class. To create the communities and jobs we need, Knoxville must have a strong, local economy. We deserve a Knoxville that invests in our economies and workers through a variety of ways, including increasing the city contracts given to Black and PoC owned contractors, unions, and cooperatives.

Furthermore, Knoxvillians need businesses and local government to be accountable to its workers and the community.  Much of downtown already sits on fossils of pre-Urban Renewal Black Knoxville, and we continue to see Black and working class neighborhoods being gentrified and eventually replaced as downtown grows. It’s time that people who live in communities benefited from the development in their communities, instead of the corporate and privileged few. (14)

Past Labor Organizer with Service Employee International Union (Fight for $15)

Co-founder of UT Coalition for Responsible Investment

Past member of Southern Energy Network’s Steering Committee

Co-founder of Stop School Push Out (Resists the school-prison pipeline)

Co-founder of East TN Community Defense (works with families and individuals navigating the legal system)

Co-founder of the City Council Movement, a community organizing and political organization with a goal of electing a progressive majority on city council (17)  

Conservative                                      Possible Score 30       Total Score 29

I am among a slate of 3 candidates (including Amelia Parker and Charles Al-Bawi) who are committed to winning a progressive majority on city council and building a Knoxville for All. (29)

Endorsed by:

  • City Council Movement – The City Council Movement was developed from the political caucus of Rescue and Restoration. Rescue and Restoration is a community organizing effort established in 2014 to address health, political, education and economic issues that affect predominantly African-American communities. The Movement’s Mission is to strengthen the people’s political power by holding elected officials accountable via organizing, education and participatory democracy; and secure political representatives who maintain practices and implement projects that demonstrate viable, effective economic and social impact on Black, people of color, working class, and marginalized communities. (28)

Is an activist and participant in Knoxville’s Black Lives Matter and Black Coffee Justice groups. He is running as a progressive. (30)  

Other                                                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 15

Is committed to building a Knoxville for All; a Knoxville where all families, workers, and communities can thrive. Grew up in a working-class, Christian household with two veteran parents who are committed to pushing for social justice inside the church. His upbringing led to his commitment to activism and overcoming injustice. This passion began in his teens and led to his leadership in several community, political, and labor organizations. (19)

Knoxville deserves leadership that will fight to end poverty and stop displacement from gentrification. Knoxville deserves leadership that will empower all of its residents, not just the rich and powerful. (16)

We’re committed to achieving justice and healing for our communities. We’re committed to empowering residents to have a control over the development of their neighborhoods. We are committed to transforming the city budget into an equitable budget that is created by and for the people. We are committed to addressing the root causes of the harm and violence we experience far too often. (15)

In order to bring safety to working class and poor communities struggling with violence, we need to reimagine public safety, address the causes and effects of poverty, invest in mental health and social services, up root systemic racism, classism, and sexism, and provide solutions that heal our communities instead of harm them. Police officers are often asked to do jobs that they are not trained for which can produce harmful results for communities and police officers themselves. Many neighborhoods are in need of mental healthcare and fully funded social services, and KPD is not equipped to meet those needs. (15)

We all deserve to live free from fear of gun violence, domestic violence, police brutality, and all types of violence; moreover, our children and future generations deserve to grow up in a healthy, well-resourced environment with accessible services and programs. The time is right for us to reimagine public safety and move from mass incarceration toward community healing and positive transformation. (14)

The city must treat houseless folks with dignity and respect and end its practices of criminalizing and imprisoning individuals for not having a house to live in. Decisions about the houseless community must include the voices and perspectives of the houseless community and houseless service providers to ensure the necessary and most experienced voices are heard. Once on council, I will continue to advocate for the “Homeless Bill of Rights”, increase investments into affordable housing and services, and engage houseless folks instead of displacing and dispersing them throughout the city. (15)

A Knoxville For All will have affordable and accessible housing for all its residents and place underutilized land in the hands of communities who need it. (17)

A Knoxville For All will have communities safe from all forms of violence, accessible healthy food and healthcare, clean air and water, and well-resourced community organizations. (13)

All Knoxvillians deserve the right to affordable housing, good jobs with living wages, real democracy in our local government, and safe, healthy, and well-resourced communities and neighborhoods.” (13)

We will fight for everyone to have an affordable home in a safe and healthy community. We will bring more social services and programs to our communities. We will build a local economy of locally owned businesses, cooperatives, unions, and living wages for all. We will bring real democracy to our city government by empowering the people of Knoxville to determine their destiny and by putting people over money and politics. (17)

Affordable Housing – All Knoxvillians deserve safe and affordable housing. However, housing costs are on the rise, and stable housing is in short supply in our community. As such, affordable housing must become a priority in the city’s budget. Our communities deserve a city that prioritizes affordable housing over other pet projects, such as the new police headquarters. The city allocated only $2.5 million to the affordable housing fund, while appropriating $40 million for the police and fire headquarters. David will work to set the city’s priorities straight and make sure that all Knoxvillians have a safe place to live. No one should be pushed out of housing and everyone has the right to services and programs to assist them in times of need. Houseless Knoxvillians have a right to city services and programs, the Homeless Bill of Rights. Moreover, houseless neighborhoods deserve to live in a city without being constantly targeted by police. (16)

Safe and Healthy Communities – Our communities need robust and full-funded services created by and for Knoxvillians. Essential programs and services include but are not limited to: youth engagement and mentoring, mental health and addiction recovery, job training and placement, access to low-cost legal representation, homeless services, mediation and restorative justice processes; and city support for other nonprofit and community organizations. Everyone in Knoxville has a right to the physical and mental healthcare they need to thrive. Furthermore, all Knoxvillians deserve to live in a city that works to build hospitals and healthcare facilities, not close them. (15)

Democracy for All – The city budget of almost $400 million belongs to the people, and it is imperative that we have community participation throughout the entire budgeting process and have funds under the democratic control of our communities. Moreover, the people must have a say in how all city departments work, including the police department. To that end, our communities must have the ability to discipline police officers who commit harm and have a say in how much money is allocated to police. The city government and developers own or impact most of the land in Knoxville. The people of Knoxville deserve to benefit from development and have a say in how the land in our community is used. Our communities have a right to negotiate with developers, and utilize Community Benefit Agreements, to ensure developers work with our communities and neighborhoods. Community land trusts are a tool our communities can use to ensure that land stays in the hands of our communities, instead of greedy developers. (15)

Christian World View

Abortion                                             Possible Score 40       Total Score 2

Family Values                                    Possible Score 30       Total Score 0

Is a proud parent to his one-and-half-year-old with his partner Lisa (0)

Marriage                                            Possible Score 30       Total Score 2

Elizabeth Murphy: Recommend    

            Overall Rating: 74.2%

Big Government/Small Government Rating: Big 15%; Small 85%            

            Christian World View Rating: Christian 68%; Secular 32%                        


Works as a consultant for a PAC. Previously worked as a genealogist (correct description, not geologist) for Honor Resources in the Oil & Gas Field and as an administrative assistant in the Environmental Health and Safety department of UT Medical Center.

BA, English, University of Tennessee

Budget, Spending, and Taxes          Possible Score 30       Total Score 3

No increase in property tax rate (3)

Business and Consumers                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 4

Job Creation

  • Prioritize job creation & opportunities for all residents.
  • Remove barriers to smart economic growth. (4)

Conservative                                      Possible Score 30       Total Score 4

Is a conservative activist. (3)

Is a warrior for constitutional rights (5)

Other                                                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 4

Safe Communities

  • Strong focus on supporting effective crime reduction programs.
  • More funding for effective community policing.
  • Partner with community leaders to coordinate fighting crime. (4)

Housing and Homelessness

  • Support the homeless who are committed to rehabilitation, counseling, and finding employment.
  • Address resource barriers for those who are mentally ill or drug addicted.
  • Expand work opportunities for those needing a helping hand. (5)

Christian World View

Abortion                                             Possible Score 40       Total Score 28

Family Values                                    Possible Score 30       Total Score 20

Marriage                                            Possible Score 30       Total Score 20

Tommy Smith: Do Not Recommend    

            Overall Rating: 40.6%

Big Government/Small Government Rating: Big 57%; Small 43%            

            Christian World View Rating: Christian 39%; Secular 61%                        


Married with three children

2020 – Present – Knoxville 1st District Councilman

Is Vice President of Marketing Strategy for Ackermann Marketing & PR. Before that he served as chief marketing officer for ORNL Federal Credit Union. Smith spent time in Dublin, Ireland, and Austin, Texas, working for Dell Inc. in consumer marketing, brand management and business development.

Bachelor’s Degree, Business Administration, Emory and Henry University

MBA, Marketing, University of Tennessee

Budget, Spending, and Taxes          Possible Score 30       Total Score 20

Business and Consumers                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 10

Everyday Economics – Investing in people is just as important as investing in places. If we support local businesses, we all win, because they are the most sustainable fabric of our local economy. Small business apprenticeships with high schools. Rapid transit corridors and public transportation to good jobs. Empowerment grants to Black-owned businesses. Innovation districts for entrepreneurs. Housing navigators. Permanent supportive housing. Homeless-to-work programs. All of these ideas point to better jobs, reduced poverty, and a better quality of life. And, we are making progress on these ideas now. Housing Navigators at United Way help people find housing. 100Knoxville provides grants to Black-owned businesses to grow and hire more people. The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center provides resources that make for a Maker City full of startups. But we can do more. Everyday economics is about empowering people to find real, life-giving opportunity and supporting Knoxville small businesses, and we can do so responsibly to respect the tax-paying residents we represent. (9)

Key areas of focus include inclusive growth, affordable housing, economic development and neighborhood safety. (11)

Conservative                                      Possible Score 30       Total Score 19

Smith was endorsed in 2020 by:

  • Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis – Pavlis has contributed to Brian Kelsey (R), and to John Duncan, Jr. (R) for Congress (6)
  • Ashley Capps, A.C. Entertainment – Capps has contributed to Joe Biden (D), Phil Bredesen (D), Renee Hoyos (D), Karl Dean (D), Marquita Bradshaw (D), and Bill Haslam (R) (25)

Smith has endorsed:

  • Renee Hoyos (D) for Congress in 2020 (27)

Other                                                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 8

Strong neighborhoods, everyday economics, and a healthy environment are critical to a vibrant and sustainable Knoxville. And, effective progress can get us there. (9)

Homeless transformation, high school apprenticeships, parks and green spaces, Chapman Highway revitalization, small business support for Cumberland Ave., and historic design standards to preserve Fort Sanders. Effective progress means all of us…in this together. We can disagree well and still create solutions that help people. (8)

Safe and Strong Neighborhoods – Knoxville is a diverse community, and communities that work together win. Dedicated funding for sidewalks, greenways, and stormwater, and equitable zoning codes all make neighborhoods stronger. We also need adequate funding for our fire and police departments, those that put their lives on the line for us, including improved training, recruiting, police community relations, violence intervention, and body cameras. Sustainable zoning for historic neighborhoods like Fort Sanders requires careful development. Public health, public safety, and public access provide joy for every neighborhood. Every neighborhood deserves its own investment that is of, and for, its residents. This inclusive growth requires a community-out approach that results in investment without displacement. (7)

Sustainable Knoxville – Our natural resources are second to none, and we need to increase efforts to provide open green spaces, reduce waste, transform brownfields, preserve natural tree canopy, and keep our creeks, rivers, and streets clean. New programs such as our Tree Mitigation Bank, Tennessee RiverTowns, and a City and County litter reduction plan can both enhance the quality of life for residents and attract new ones. (12)

Preserving our natural resources also leads to economic development. The Urban Wilderness is a great example of how making life better for Knoxville residents also brings visitors. Some of those visitors become residents in other ways, such as new green tech businesses at UT Research Park and partnerships with ORNL, both of which can lead to good jobs for Knoxvillians. (5)

“I want to ensure South Knoxville and Fort Sanders are vibrant and sustainable,” Smith said. “Sustaining the Urban Wilderness, supporting local businesses on Chapman Highway, Cumberland Avenue, and Sevier Avenue, connecting our community neighborhoods, and investing in people, requires someone who knows every square mile of the First District, listens to people, and provides effective solutions that help people.” (5)  

Christian World View

Abortion                                             Possible Score 40       Total Score 15

Family Values                                    Possible Score 30       Total Score 14

Member and Volunteer for:

  • Girls Inc. Knoxville (6)
  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (6)
  • Salvation Army (24)
  • All Souls Church – We long to see shalom come to Knoxville, the place where we live, work, and play. We are an eclectic and diverse group of believers; in age, ethnicity, season of life, marital status, and socio-economics. We are made up of contemplatives, charismatics, and social-justice seekers, those certain of their faith, those who are deconstructing, and those who doubt. We believe that, despite our differences, all things hold together and find unity in Jesus Christ. Our hope is that we provide both a safe space for you to continue your journey of faith and a spiritual home with people that will walk alongside you. Our service is participatory: we sing and read together with lyrics and text projected on large screens at the front of the space; we pass the peace of Christ to each other; we recite the Lord’s Prayer together. We believe giving of tithes and offerings is an act of worship and each week we offer a chance for people to engage in worship through giving. If you would like to participate in worship through giving a gift, we invite you to do as you feel led. The preaching of the word is always Biblically-based with real application to daily life. We are sacramental in that every part of our service is leading us to the Lord’s Table and we end each week by coming forward for Eucharist. We believe the Table is open to all who desire to follow Christ. (20)

Marriage                                            Possible Score 30       Total Score 10