By Ken Palmer
Knoxville news writer

A recent salute to public officials in Knox County gave the GLBT community yet another chance to interact with local elected Democrats.

The reception, held in East Knoxville at Broker Banquet Hall, gave occasion for representatives of various local GLBT groups to meet Knox County Democratic dignitaries. Groups represented included the Stonewall Democrats, Tennessee Equality Project, Rainbow Community Awareness Project, the Knoxville Human Rights Campaign Meetup group, Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville, and others.

The first of its kind in our area, the gala reception was held Thursday, December 1. The event was an effort by the Knox County Democratic Party to honor public officials for their tireless work and support of Democratic principles. The reception was free and open to all supporters of the Democratic Party of Knox County. Approximately 100 people attended the event.

Former Mayor of Knoxville Randy Tyree served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. Along with Knox County Democratic Chair Jim Gray, Mayor Tyree regaled those gathered with anecdotes and accomplishments of various public officials. Honorees included Knox County Attorney General Randy Nichols, Knoxville Vice Mayor Mark Brown, City Councilman Bob Becker, Knox County Commissioner Diane Jordan, Knox County School Board member Indya Kincannon,

Other Knox County School System honoraries included School Board Members Sam Anderson, Robert Bratton, and Diane Dozier along with Dr. Charles Lindsey, Superintendent of Knox County Schools. Local judicial officials included 6th Judicial District Criminal Court Judges Richard Baumgartner and Mary Beth Leibowitz along with Circuit Judge Division II Harold Wimberley. A moment of silence was observed for the recently deceased Knox County Juvenile Court Judge Carey Garrett.

Tennessee State Representatives Harry Tindell and Joe Armstrong were also acknowledged for their dedicated service to the people of the districts they serve.

We honor these faithful stewards,” invoked Tyree,” who serve selflessly and support fellow Tennesseans.”

Jim Gray acknowledged Knox County officials including Commissioner Mark Cawood, Commission Diane Jordan, County Court Clerk Mike Padgett, Commissioner ‘Tank’ Strickland, and Commissioner Billy Tindell.

While photographs and quotes of all officials flashed on a giant screen, Greg Mackay, Bill Deatherage, Cassandra McGee, and Pam Reeves were cited for their Election Commission service.

Tennessee Democratic Party members Gayle Alley, Bill Owens, and Harold and Sylvia Woods received certificates for their unwavering service.

“Our public officials spend countless hours working to improve the community in which we live. With this event, the Party is unveiling a new attitude and take-charge approach,” declared Jim Gray. “We believe that, by showing appreciation and gratitude to our public officials, we can encourage others to pursue public service and Party involvement. There will be no speeches because the focus will be entirely on our honorees. We hope this event will be a step toward stimulating a new deal and a new day in the Democratic Party of Knox County.”

“This is one of our many efforts to show and honor those who give so much of their time and service to the public," said Gray.

In closing remarks Will Minter Event Chair noted, “The Democratic Party is helping those people who have been pushed aside, to be welcomed into the mainstream of our country.”

Zella Whited played the electric organ during the lavish buffet.

Emily Singer, Director of the University of Tennessee ’s Office of Disability Services and noted area Democrat, proclaimed the event such a success as to become an annual event.

For further information on the Knox County Democratic Party, access their Web site at or call Party Chair Jim Gray at (865) 579-3681.
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