Knox County, specifically District 2, has been my home for most of my life. I attended Belle Morris Elementary, Whittle Springs Middle, and Central High Schools and decided to raise my family here as well. I left only on two occasions following graduation from UT with my Bachelors and my Masters degrees. However, I have always been pulled back to Knoxville, where my roots are strong and deep.
Public Service Interests
My interest in holding public office began at an early age. When I was five, my father, Steve Roberts, ran a successful campaign to become President of the Knoxville City School Board. He and my mother, Debbie, were both public school teachers which gave him a first-hand perspective on the administration of the Knoxville school system. Through his campaign and tenure as president, he showed me that a “regular person” could actually make positive changes to his community.
My interest in public service only grew from there. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Tennessee. After graduating with highest honors, I took a job with the State Senate and then with the Department of Economic and Community Development in Nashville under Governor Phil Bredesen. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in state government but felt called to follow in my parents’ footsteps, so I returned to UT-Knoxville where I earned a Master of Science in Education. I completed my teaching internship at West High School and accepted a position at Clarksville High School in Clarksville, TN teaching government & history. Clarksville is also where I met my husband, Ruf, though Knoxville was still pulling me back. We got married in Knoxville in 2011 and never left. I took a teaching position at Austin-East High School and Ruf started a handyman service, Fountain City Fix It. We still live in Fountain City with our sweet children, Josephine, born in 2013, and Finn born two years later.
Becoming a mother dramatically increased my interest in public service; I had two incredibly important reasons to strive for a stronger and safer community. Therefore, I founded the Fountaincrest Neighborhood Association to address some common issues and in the process get to know my neighbors. I wanted to create a safe, welcoming environment for all of us to feel comfortable enough to ask for a cup of sugar if needed. I wanted our neighborhood to feel comfortable as it was for me growing up on Emoriland Blvd.
As a staff member of City of Knoxville’s Office of Neighborhoods, I deal with communities and connect them to resources, specifically through the Neighborhood Conference. It is incredibly rewarding to observe neighborhood leaders walk away from the conference feeling more energized and informed. I also serve as a substitute teacher for Knox County Schools and the PTO Volunteer Committee Chair at Fountain City Elementary. Working in various schools across Knox County allows me a unique opportunity to learn about concerns specific to individual schools and their community. I am grateful to have this opportunity.
Community Driven Leadership
All of my professional endeavors have given me the opportunity to listen to issues and concerns from parents and neighbors, then develop and implement responsible solutions to the challenges they raised, and learn how exceptional my community truly is. And I want to contribute more!
I genuinely believe the path I have taken throughout my life has led me to this opportunity to serve Knoxville and Knox County as your next District 2 County Commissioner. I am excited about this adventure and look forward to hearing from more of you. I appreciate your support. Together, we can make Knox County a place where our children will want to raise their children.