She’s fierce, she’s bold, and more important than that she’s progressive.
Community Activist Kimberly Peterson has held a lifelong commitment to social justice and making a difference for all people.
Serving as development director for the United Way, American Cancer Society, and Big Brothers Big Sisters for fifteen years she learned what it meant to serve the people. She has also been heavily involved in organizations and spaces which challenge the status quo and often vocal on issues of race, class and disparities.
As the only Democratic candidate in the 5th District race she doesn’t shy away from how she believes she can make an impact. When asked about her progressive background and positions on politics she holds a firm stance.
“I do consider myself to be a progressive. Though that word often means different things to different people, personally, I think of the political climate of the early 20th century that saw great social and political activism as well as a push for governmental reform. As someone who has been involved in social justice activism much of my life, I am proud to embrace a term which means pushing society, culture and government forward to be more just and equitable”.
Growing up in a military family and faced with single parenthood she also understands what it means to be a part of diverse ethnic, religious and socieconomic society first hand.
Peterson was born in Aberdeen, Maryland and then landed with her family in Knoxville and Morristown after her father’s military service which took her family abroad and to various cities throughout the United States.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and History from James Madison University and became active in a variety of organizations and social justice causes dedicated to ensuring equity, responsible environmental stewardship, and giving everyone a voice in government.
As the mother of a special needs child she was faced with leaving her career to become a full-time caregiver and shortly after found herself raising her daughter as a single mother and relying on her parents, friends, family and government programs designed to give a “hand up, not a hand out”, as she says.
She is now married to her husband Greg in a blended family of six.
Kimberly believes that too often those making the decisions and laws these days are the least effected by the policies they enact.
“I decided to run for office because I strongly believe that those who are in the position of making laws and policies as well as deciding where and how resources are allocated far too often benefit from those decisions at the detriment of the majority. When I was approached and encouraged to run, I thought about the make up of Knox County Commission and it is clear that this governing body truly does not represent the people of Knox County. We need a local government that represents and amplifies the voices of all the people it serves”, says Peterson.
Knox County’s Fifth District serves the West Knoxville/ Farragut/ Concord area of the city where she is running for County Commission. She faces Republican candidates Clayton Wood and incumbent John Schoonmaker.
Traditionally I think the 5th district has been largely republican but we have a very strong, engaged and active group of Democrats here which is why we needed a candidate to rally behind. Having ballots election after election with only one candidate who does not even have to run a campaign and share her/his vision, is not democracy in action. We have to show that there are diverse voices throughout Knox County even in so called “Republican and Conservative strongholds”, said Peterson.
As I said earlier, I would like to see local government reflect the make up of its community. Though my district is better off than others in Knox County, it does not mean that its residents do not face some of the same challenges. I think no matter where you live in the county, we want our children to go to school and be able to focus on learning and not worry about being a victim of gun violence, we want them to have a public education that prepares them to succeed in life. We want to see businesses that reflect the needs and desires of those in the community. We do not want to see our friends and neighbors have to make tough decisions on how they are going to heat their homes or provide for their families. The thing I want to see change the most is to have people who have lived these experiences share them and then to be at the forefront of shaping and creating policy”.
Early voting begins February 12th and Election Day will take place on March 3, 2020.
For more voting and election info visit https://knoxcounty.org/election/election_schedule.php