Knoxville’s history and its potential has always inspired me. I’ve been honored to help move Knoxville Forward as a member of the City Council and I have great ideas for continuing our City’s progress. I’d love to put them to work for you as Mayor.
I am a native Knoxvillian and have deep roots in the Knoxville community. I was born and raised in a 100-year-old house in Bearden. My grandfather bought it in the 1950’s. He was a manager at the Standard Knitting Mills and one of his coworkers I met campaigning was convinced the Mill wouldn’t have closed if he were still alive. The house my grandfather bought needed a lot of work, but he saw potential in it. He was a dreamer. Unfortunately, he died before he ever got the chance to finish it and my dad has spent his life fixing it up and realizing his father’s dream. My life has been shaped by that same dream of a better future and a deep commitment to hard work.
Developing a Love of Cities and Returning Home
Filled with a sense of curiosity, I went to college at Tulane University in New Orleans and spent several years after graduation working in cities across the United States and the world. I worked for a nonprofit environmental group fighting for clean air, national forests and smart growth, which led me to live in Houston, TX, Austin, TX, and Chicago, IL. I also spent time in Mexico City becoming fluent in Spanish and teaching English to corporate executives.
It was these formative years living in such a variety of neighborhoods where I developed an interest in city revitalization, transportation options, walkable neighborhoods and historic preservation. I had the opportunity to see different models of community infrastructure, housing, transit and learned what worked and what didn’t. After almost ten years of experiencing life in other cities, there was nothing more inspiring to me than the transformation occurring in my hometown. This caused me to return home to attend law school at UT and see how I could contribute to my community.
While in law school, I worked for the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division as a bilingual assistant, assisting federal investigations enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act, Family Medical Leave Act, and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. In 2008, I began working at the law firm of Lewis, Thomason, King, Krieg & Waldrop, P.C. with a general civil litigation practice focusing on employment law and more recently immigration law.
Stepping Up to Council
While I enjoy law, my true passion is and always has been improving Knoxville. I was elected to the Board of the Central Business Improvement District where we focused exclusively on Downtown Knoxville revitalization, but I wanted to have a bigger impact. I wanted to make a difference on other issues I felt passionately about like addressing vacancy and blight, mixed use development, sustainability and sound fiscal management. This led me to launch a campaign for City Council at the age of 32. I took on a former State Senator and I won in November 2011 and was subsequently re-elected in November 2015.
Serving on Council has been an honor and I am proud of the work we have done together. We implemented significant pension reform, maintained focused efforts on walkable communities with sidewalk additions in areas all over the City, adopted a new sign ordinance that took bold steps to reduce sign clutter and put Knoxville on the map as an outdoor destination with investments in Lakeshore Park and the Urban Wilderness. We also fought to keep employers like Regal Entertainment and Tombras Group in the City to ensure high quality jobs are here to stay. And, we are currently updating the zoning code to ensure quality growth while maintaining neighborhood integrity.
I served as the Chair of Public Property Naming Committee and currently serve as the Chair of the Audit Committee which approves the City’s financial statements. I have also served on a number of non-profit boards, including the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Bijou Theatre, City People, East Tennessee Historical Society, Legacy Parks, Appalachian Mountain Bike Club and have been involved in numerous other organizations.
My wife Natalie and I now have our very own 100-year-old house located in historic Old North Knoxville. Trust me, it is always a work in progress and feels like a lifelong project just as my parent’s house has been! We welcomed our daughter, Stella Dorothy Stair in January 2018. One day I hope that she will see the progress we have made to maintain our City’s character while moving it into the future. However, my dream is not for her to just see the potential. I want her to see the dream fulfilled and to dream even bigger for our City.
I hope you’ll join me in taking the next step. Vote Stair for Mayor to move Knoxville Forward!