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'Making history' | The majority of Knox County's elected leaders are women

The Knox County Board of Education, County Commission and Knoxville City Council are all woman-dominated.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — For the first time in Knox County history, there are more women in elected positions than men. Women in those elected positions said they believed it indicated a step towards breaking the glass ceiling. They called it a "proud moment" and a "major accomplishment."

On September 1, most of those women started their terms. The Knox County Commission, the Board of Education, and the Knoxville City Council are all now majority women.

The Knoxville City Council, which isn't up for re-election for another year, has six women and three men. The Knox County Commission just elected three new woman candidates. There are six woman commissioners and five men.

The Knox County School Board also went through an election period. There are five women and four men on the board.

"This is something we can celebrate, this is history," said Gina Oster. "I'm so proud that this is the first class of Knox County Commission that is majority women, I think we should be proud of that."

She was recently elected to the Knox County Commission for District 3. Katherine Bike agreed with her. She was recently elected to the Knox County Board of Education for District 4.

"I've always been in this space that's been consistently male-dominated," Bike said. "I'm so excited for women to really be a part of the conversation."

The shift to a majority of women illustrates how the Knox County political climate has changed in the past 10 years. In 2011 Knoxville elected the first female mayor — Madeline Rogero.

It marked a turning point for the county. Rogero served as mayor until 2019. Then, another woman took the position, Indya Kincannon.

"When I was growing up, I didn't know any women in elective office," Kincannon said. "I didn't know any women who ran for office, much less one in an executive leadership position."

However, during the election, Kincannon watched women all around her move into elected roles and be trusted to make decisions for the wellbeing of the public.

"What it says to me is that we are judging people's ability to lead based on their ability to lead, not on whether they look like a traditional leader," Kincannon said.

2022 will be known as the year that traditional politics, usually dominated by men, changed in Knox County.

"This is showing our next generation that it's possible. This is accessible to you because I didn't know that it was accessible to me," Bike said.

"I just want women and anybody to know that you put in that hard work and that dedication, then the reward is there at the end," Oster said.

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