By Matthew Guthrie
Mark Padgett describes himself as a "21st-century entrepreneur who has the energy, experience, and vision to lead our great city." Clearly the idea of small business experience is something that Padgett is pushing hard in his campaign. He's up against candidates with years of political experience in Knoxville, something that Padgett cannot claim.
Padgett, who graduated with a M.B.A. from Lincoln Memorial University, does have management experience working in the Bredesen administration.After his work with the Bredesen administration, Padget founded eGovernment Solutions in 2005, which, as he likes to mention, he started with "$5,000 in savings and a borrowed laptop."
"I learned from both sides, both from the state government side but also as a small business owner, how this environment that we have to work together in should work," Padgett said.
Padgett is a fourth-generation Knoxvillian who grew up in the Lonsdale and Halls communities where his father emphasized the value of education, and where he learned working class values and the importance of public service. Padgett likes to talk about how he fought through multiple ACL tears to earn a basketball scholarship that paid for his college. Padgett spoke about his experience growing up first in Lonsdale and then moving to Halls.
"I think it made me understand the drive that it takes to be an entrepreneur, but also it's really helped me to understand the differences in communities, and how diverse our city is, and I think it will make me a better mayor for that," Padgett said.
Padgett feels that his business experience makes him the best candidate for mayor. "I believe the mayor of a city is the executive, kind of the chief executive, of a city, and I'm the only candidate that has experience doing that. I'm the only candidate I know of running for mayor that's ever created a job."
While Padgett boasts his business savvy, some have called into question just how successful Padgett has been at building his business.When questioned on the matter, Padgett doesn't give much detail.
"There are under a dozen employees and contractors and under $1 million in revenues," Padgett said.
For a relative unknown and Knoxville political rookie, Padgett has done an impressive job getting his name out and fundraising. Padgett had raised just over $90,000 by the first filing deadline on Feb. 1.
Among Padgett's top issues is the economy, which he plans to grow by providing more support for small businesses, recruiting world-class companies and jobs, and promoting public-private partnerships with University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge.
In addition, he envisions having stronger, safer and better-connected neighborhoods by strengthening codes enforcement with a senior-level adviser, expanding greenways and parks to connect neighborhoods with downtown, and investing in all neighborhoods.
Lastly, he Promises more accessible and efficient services by protecting taxpayer dollars, evaluating services, records and processes and then putting them online, and using new innovative technologies to improve services.