North Knoxville Spotlight The first edition of the North Knoxville Spotlight hosted by Pastor Jimmy Sherrod on WKCS-FM 91.1 features news from the community and an interview with Lauren Rider.

Lauren talks blighted properties on WBIR Click to view a clip of Lauren discussing the effects of blighted properties in Knoxville, and how to fix them.

Lauren shares her vision for Knoxville on WATE Listen as Lauren shares her vision for Knoxville and her passion for working in her community.

Lauren Rider works to tackle tough, blighted property
Check out this article detailing the great work that Lauren has done on blighted properties. 

Lauren helped organize her neighbors to fight a new pawn shop Read the Knoxville Focus article outlining the pawn shop battle from the beginning of 2017.

The Mercury candidate questionnaire. Below are Lauren's responses to the candidate questionnaire published in The Mercury.

Knox Mercury Candidate Questionnaire
Age: 43
Occupation: Partner, Flatiron Restorations, LLC; Librarian, Pellissippi State Community College – Division Street
Education: Master of Library Science, Indiana University; Bachelor of Science, Exercise Science, Georgia State University
Volunteer Work:
• Broadway Corridor Task Force – Member & Co-Chair, 2014-current
• City of Knoxville Public Property Naming Committee, 2014 – current
• First Creek & Greenway clean-ups (bi-annual), 2005-present
• Old North Knoxville neighborhood clean-ups (bi-annual), 2005-present
• Love Towers Annual Ice Cream Social, 2014-current
• City of Knoxville Neighborhood Advisory Council, 2010 – 2016
• Knox County Library Advisory Council, 2008 – 2014
• Old North Knoxville, Inc., Board member 2006 – current, President 2010 – 2015
• KAT Community Advisory Committee, 2006 – 2009
• Old North’s Victorian Holiday Home Tour, Committee member (current) and chair (2006 – 2016)
• Pellissippi State Student Affairs Annual Day of Service, 2015-2017
• Volunteered for various activities such as Open Streets, support of local startups/entrepreneurial efforts.

1. What’s the most overlooked issue facing Knoxville heading into the election?
Growth and housing are a challenge we need to address in Knoxville. As one of the fastest growing cities in the state, we see a real strain on housing supply, which affects affordability and availability. Housing is essential to our stability and ability to attract and keep businesses. Renters and buyers are finding less and less available and/or affordable. When demand pushes housing further away from employment, commutes and traffic increase and quality of life decreases. Housing is also a primary factor in our ability to address homelessness. In 2017, Knoxville was hit hard in housing options for elderly and disabled participating in the Section 8 voucher program. The number of landlords participating in the Voucher program decreased drastically. As a result, 2017 had an increase in homelessness as some of our long-time housed elderly and disabled lost their homes. The city needs more housing, particularly for middle and lower income ranges. As we focus on increased economic development and revitalization, we must consider and address the need for housing at all income levels.

2. As a City Council representative, what would you do to try to better address the cycle of violence, or its causes, in urban neighborhoods?
Addressing the cycle of violence is multifaceted and positively impacted by job opportunities, education/job training and safe/stable neighborhoods. Supporting and partnering with KPD, education providers and social service providers is a strategy to addressing violence and its root causes. KPD is often at the “front line” of violence, responding to calls and moments of crisis. I would focus on building stronger relationships between KPD and the community. Trust and partnership with KPD is essential, as is training for officers in de escalation and awareness of community partners for those needing help. To get someone out of the cycle of violence, we must provide a way out: shelter, legal help, clothing, addiction treatment, and other essential support. Currently, we are short officers and are training only 39 to fill vacant positions. Efforts to recruit new qualified candidates and train them to be excellent officers and community partners is essential.

3. What would you do to spur development and spread its benefits outside of downtown?
I’ve contributed to revitalization efforts in North Knoxville since 2005, and as a Council member I could offer firsthand development experience with a community-minded perspective. I have an understanding of the processes and expenses, the zoning and planning, as well as the building process. As a city we can focus on improvements to zoning and plans review processes. Downtown is thriving and redevelopment of the “spokes” that leave the strong center core are in progress. Specific barriers in the zoning code that stall good projects must be addressed in the Recode Knoxville process. In 2018, City Council will work on the zoning changes, based on public input, and it is critical to have council members that understand zoning and development. My experience in development and business/community partnerships makes me uniquely qualified to represent the city during this process.

I helped initiate and serve on the Broadway Corridor Task Force, created to spur development and interest in North Knoxville. In 2014, we organized to spotlight areas in need of development and work to collaborate with businesses and neighborhoods in those areas. Through conversation, an extensive public input process and with support of the East Tennessee Community Design Center, we now have a Corridor Visioning Plan to aid future infrastructure planning and serve as a launching point for private/public conversations on redevelopment.

4. Specific to your district, what is its greatest unaddressed need?
The Fourth District is filled with amazing neighborhoods. Talking to neighbors across the district, I hear a great demand to connect our neighborhoods and business corridors. Neighbors want to walk to shopping centers, but lack access to safe, signalized crosswalks. They want to bike to local restaurants or friend’s house, but lack safe routes or greenways. They want decreased traffic, but the only safe routes are by car. They want to walk to church, but the route there has no sidewalk. We can create stronger neighborhoods and support commercial centers by tying our neighborhoods/business centers together via existing sidewalks and greenways.

5. There are 30 candidates running for five City Council seats. How do you stand out?
My experience in redevelopment and record as an active community leader working for safe, strong, quality neighborhoods. For 12 years, I’ve been involved in neighborhood and city meetings, which has prepared me to help voters on the important issues the city works on: speeding in neighborhoods, blighted/vacant property solutions, neighborhood watch and KPD neighborhood liaison programs, city parks with solar-powered electric service, homeless solutions and services, redevelopment on corridors connecting our neighborhoods, greenways, preservation of existing homes and buildings and zoning and parking needs for mixed-use development.

As an engaged neighborhood leader (Old North Knoxville President & Knoxville Neighborhood Advisory Council member), I’ve worked on solutions that move the community forward while preserving the character that we love and find unique. As a developer, I’m known for hands-on leadership and collaborative partnerships to tackle blighted properties. As a Council member, I would be committed to continuing to focus on revitalization, stability and quality economic development in all neighborhoods.