In 1986, I enlisted in the Navy and spent 8 years as a Russian Linguist. I did my language training at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. My first assignment was at a small listening base on the Black Sea in Sinop, Turkey.
My final assignment in the Navy was at the On-Site Inspection Agency. There I was an interpreter on Arms Control Inspection and Escort Teams. When the Russian teams would come here or we would go to the former Soviet Union, I would help interpret, escort, and inspect under the auspices of the START, INF, and Nuclear Testing Treaties.
After the Navy, I used my GI Bill to go to law school. I got my Juris Doctor (J.D.) at Salmon P. Chase College of Law in Northern Kentucky (where I was born and raised). I also received a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Economic Law at the University of Houston Law Center.
I went back into the military in 1999, this time to the Air Force, where I was a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). I was stationed in Missouri, Florida, California, Japan, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
While in the Air Force, I deployed to al Udeid AB in Qatar where I was a judge advocate in the Combat Operations Division of the Combined Air Operations Center. I also deployed at to Baghdad, Iraq, where I was the Interrogations Law Attorney at Camp Cropper.
I retired as a Major from the Air Force in 2012 and went to work at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). At the CFPB, I worked in the Consumer Response Division, where we handled consumer complaints about banks, mortgage servicing companies, credit card companies, debt collectors and more.
BUILDING A LIFE IN KNOXVILLE
I left the CFPB and moved to Knox County in 2015 to marry the love of my life – Susan Beth Frommeyer. She was my college sweetheart whom I let get away so many years ago. Susan is an OB/GYN at Fort Sanders Women’s Specialists and has been practicing in East Tennessee since the early 2000s. We have a blended family. My son is a rising Sophomore at UT and my step-daughter is a rising 6th grader, about to start at West Valley Middle School.
I’m in this race because I’ve seen how many of the races in Knox County end up in the general election with a Republican running unopposed. I wanted to make sure that voters would have a choice in 2020, which I think is the most consequential year for elections in my lifetime. Susan told me, though, that she wasn’t going to support me just to get my name on the ballot. I had to try and win. And so that’s what I’ve been doing.
I determined early on that I wanted to run a different kind of race. I think money is a big part of what’s wrong in politics and that includes Knox County politics. So I decided to draw a distinction with the Republicans in my race who have raised 10s of thousands of dollars. I take no big money, by which I mean PAC contributions or the $500/$1000 checks that monied interests give to candidates. I don’t put a donate button on my website on purpose. I don’t make calls asking for donations. I think the big money in politics tends to provide SOME with more access to the candidates. Those who have money get their issues heard first and most. I want to be open to all – no one gets special access with me.
I’ve been attending Commission meetings since I got in the race. I’ve seen that development in Knox County seems to be dictated by the developers. I think Mayor Jacobs and the current Commission have enabled that way of thinking. I’m for Reasonable and Responsible Development. That means that I want to give more of a voice to the people who are affected by the development than they currently have. I want the Planning Commission to live up to its name and make sure there’s some planning in the process.
Most of all, I want to be a voice on the Commission for the people who traditionally have not had a voice in Knox County politics. In the Air Force, I worked as the military equivalent of a public defender. I stood with the Airmen who were having the full force of the Air Force brought down upon them. At the CFPB, I was helping individual consumers fight back against big banks and other consumer financial companies. I want to continue that mindset on the Commission and help the little guy as much as I can.