Five new members of the Knoxville City Council took their oaths of office Saturday, marking the first time in city history the council will be comprised of at least four women.
In total, 11,735 votes were cast in the November election, which did not feature a mayoral candidate on the ballot. Stephanie Welch, Andrew Roberto, Seema Singh Perez, Lauren Rider and Gwen Mckenzie, none of whom has ever served on city council before, will make up the majority of the new nine-member body.
Representing South Knoxville’s First District, Welch easily overcame her opponent Rebecca Parr in November, winning 7,387-2,686.
In a statement to the Seymour Herald, Welch reaffirmed her excitement for the post in the wake of her sweeping victory last month. “It is an incredible honor to be among such competent, passionate and energetic leaders as this city council,” Welch said. “We have important work ahead and I can’t imagine a better group with whom to serve.”
The new council will include both racial and gender diversity. The election of 6th District candidate Gwen McKenzie ensures that at least one African American will continue to serve on the council. The election of Perez also marks the first time an Indian-American has ever served on the Knoxville City Council as well.

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