Current Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull and previous Mayor John Clark have joined an effort to increase civic engagement with nonpartisan think tank ThinkTennessee.
According to a release from ThinkTennessee, the state “once led the way on civic engagement,” but today voter turnout in the state is almost always near the bottom of the pack — in 2014 the state came in last in voter turnout and in 2016, Tennessee ranked 49th. Local elections almost always have lower voter turnout than national elections.
From the release:
To combat this trend and share best practices for increasing civic engagement, ThinkTennessee is joining with city and county mayors across the state to launch the Tennessee Mayors Growing Civic Engagement project. This project is the first of its kind in the nation.
Participating mayors will identify specific actions they can take to increase civic engagement, from deepening engagement with local youth by creating Mayor’s Youth Councils to convening community members to discuss the importance of civic participation.
“When it comes to increasing civic engagement at the local level, mayors know best,” said Shanna Singh Hughey, ThinkTennessee president. “We’re thrilled to help mayors from all parts of the state and both sides of the political aisle come together to help move Tennessee forward.”
Over the course of the project, ThinkTennessee will provide mayors with individual guidance and facilitate a community of practice to help tackle common challenges and scale solutions. At the end of the year, ThinkTennessee will share a summary report highlighting lessons learned and success stories from participating communities so that others might replicate what they achieved.
Aside from Shull, the following cities and mayors are also participating:
- City of Franklin: Mayor Ken Moore
- City of Nashville: Mayor David Briley
- City of Chattanooga: Mayor Andy Berke
- City of Columbia: Mayor Chaz Molder
- City of Memphis: Mayor Jim Strickland
- Chester County: Mayor Barry Hutcherson
- Shelby County: Mayor Lee Harris
- Weakley County: Mayor Jake Bynum
- Williamson County: Mayor Rogers Anderson