New Knoxville Mayor Daniel Brown sits down for first interview

Daniel T. Brown is sworn in as Interim Mayor to replace Gov. Elect Bill Haslam.
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Daniel Brown is quickly adjusting to his new role as Knoxville's first black mayor. I wondered if he ever thought he'd one day govern the city where he was born.

"No, I did not think I would become mayor of the city," said Mayor Brown. But during his first full day in office, the title "mayor" is not so far fetched. "I'm looking forward to the challenge," he said.

So who is Dan Brown? Well before getting sworn in Monday, not many people knew him. Born and raised here, Brown attended the former Austin High School. "And graduated from Austin, and had my first real job at the mill agent store on Gay Street," said Brown.

Realizing education was his ticket to a better life, Brown headed for Tennessee State University in Nashville. "And graduated from there with my degree in history," he said Then, a call from Uncle Sam changed his life. "I was drafted."

Brown fought in Vietnam, then returned home to a career with the Postal Service. He counts three big influences which helped him avoid the lure of street life. "Home, school, and church," said the mayor.

Brown's parents and grandparents are deceased now. He says he thought of them as he took the mayor's oath. "To think that their son and grandson is now the mayor of the city, I'm sure they would be very happy," Brown said.

They're not the only ones. Brown is getting a stream of flower deliveries and phones calls from across the nation. "Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, D.C."

And what about the historical significance of becoming Knoxville's first black mayor?

"I'm hoping that our society moves to a point where that's not even an issue, where a person's race is not a factor at all," said the mayor.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- History was made as Councilman Daniel Brown became the first black mayor of Knoxville. He'll serve on an interim basis until the next election in 2011.

"Certainly it's a great honor," said Mayor Brown.

Brown was picked by fellow council members after former Mayor Bill Haslam resigned Monday. He talked about the timing of this historic occasion.

"Certainly it's significant to think about this the week that we're going to celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King," he said.

Brown was congratulated by Haslam, who will be sworn in as governor Saturday, and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.

So, what are his priorities as interim mayor?

"The first thing I'm going to do is meet with all the department heads and urge them to remain in place."

Which he plans to do Tuesday. Then Brown says he'll work to reform the city's pension plan and tackle the money.

Said Brown, "the next priority will be to work on the budget."

While Mayor Brown mingled and shook hands with city workers, he pointed out one regret with from Monday's historic vote, his family wasn't present to witness it.

"Most of my family is out of town, and with the weather they couldn't get here."


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Knoxville City Council bid farewell to the city's mayor for the past seven years as former Mayor Bill Haslam heads off to Nashville and the Governor's Mansion.

Following their goodbyes, the council got on with the business of naming Haslam's replacement. The council was required to pick one of its own as Interim Mayor, selecting Daniel Brown to run the city until a new mayor is elected and inaugurated.

Gov.-elect Bill Haslam is kicking off a statewide tour to celebrate his inaugural with people who may not be able to make it for the formal occasion in Nashville on Saturday.

The Republican begins the tour in upper northeastern Tennessee with a celebration in Kingsport on Monday evening.

On Tuesday, Haslam heads to an evening event at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, followed by a lunchtime gathering in Jackson on Wednesday and another at the Memphis Botanical Gardens that evening.

Haslam heads home to Knoxville, where he was first elected mayor in 2003, for his final regional celebration on Thursday.

Inaugural events begin with a concert in Nashville on Friday night, followed on Saturday by a prayer service, inauguration ceremony, dinner and ball.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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