Reverend Tonja Warren holds a picture of Chris Melton, gunned down in South Knoxville as his mother Trisha Melton listens to the candidates response on solutions to stem the rising number of death by guns in Knoxville.

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — It is a community that has realized it’s voting power and has become increasingly politically engaged and is causing those running for office to realize it will not be business as usual.

Mt. Calvary Baptist Church was the location of the latest forum, drawing one of the largest crowds since the race to be city mayor of Knoxville began.

SEEED and Community Voices Coalition sponsored the forum with the questions drawn from surveys and a community meeting held earlier in the summer at OverComing Believers Church.

The forum was moderated by Knox County Education Association President Tanya Coats. All six candidates attended the two hour affair. Those running for the office of City Mayor; Marshall Stair, Indya Kincannon, Michael Andrews, Calvin Taylor Skinner, Eddie Mannis, and Fletcher “Knoxville” Burkhart.

The candidates fielded pre vetted questions  and offered solutions about the  unchecked rising cost of utilities charged by the Knoxville Utilities Board, the lack of youth opportunities and the gun deaths in the city which were highlighted with a presentation about Chris Melton, a young man killed by gang gun violence in South Knoxville.

The forum is one in a series being held by SEEED and CVC to ensure the inner cities are included in the conversations about community issues that directly affect them.