If you hadn’t already heard that Glenn Jacobs was a former wrestler, you’d probably think the 6-foot-7, 300-pound athletic-looking owner of Jacobs Insurance might be a former football player. But if you’ve watched WWE, you’ve probably some heard of his nicknames: “Kane,” “the Big Red Machine” and “The Devil’s Favorite Demon.”
The bell has rung for round one. Jacobs, a Republican, joins three other Knox County Mayoral candidates to date: At-large County Commissioner Bob Thomas and Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones, both Republicans, and Tracy Clough, a Democrat.
Party prrimaries are May 1.
“I think it’s been great,” Jacobs said about the response he’s gotten from the community. “People in Knoxville are great and friendly anyway. Folks are very surprised when they meet me for the first time because they have that [wrestling persona] in their minds and when they meet me they see I’m just a guy and that’s refreshing. People are tired of politicians. When they meet me, they realize I’m just another guy.”
What would he change if he were mayor?
“From my travels all around the world,” he said, “I’ve realized what a competitive environment that every locality and every municipality is and at this point we’re no longer just competing with other cities, we’re competing all around the world. I think when it comes to being business-friendly, Knoxville, of course, is a great place to live and is business-friendly, but we need to become more so in order to not only work with the businesses that are already here to grow and be successful, but of course to attract new businesses. That’s one area we really need to concentrate on.
“Living in East Tennessee for so long, Knoxville is the capital of East Tennessee. I think that all of us in East Tennessee need to take a more regional view of our area … to make this a technology corridor and an entrepreneurship-excellence area. There are different things that will help our region grow and, in turn, they will help Knoxville. I feel the way Knoxville goes, the way the rest of the region goes, but the way the rest of the region goes really has an impact back here in Knox County.
“When it comes to education, we already have a pretty good CTE program in Knox County schools, I think,” Jacobs added. “Our teachers and administrators are trying to do the best they can. I would like to see that expanded. I’d like to see the private sector become more involved with training centers and that sort of thing so that our kids not only have the opportunity to go to college if that’s what they want, but also have skills to enter the workforce maybe straight out of high school or go to community college where they can learn more specialized skills.
“As far as Knox County itself, we’re pretty diverse,” Jacobs said. “People outside the county may not realize this, but North Knoxville is different from South Knoxville and East Knoxville is different than West Knoxville, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all work together, that we can’t all talk about the issues in our various communities.
“We’d like to do something called ‘The Mayor’s Roundtable’ where community leaders from all of the various areas of Knox County get together and talk about what’s going on,” he added. ‘In many cases, hopefully we can bring the people who have needs, once we know what the needs are, together with the resources to help. I think in that way, not only can we help one another out without using taxpayer dollars but also, we can become a much more integrated and cohesive town.
“The most exciting portion of campaigning is meeting my neighbors and I can’t wait to do that.”
Although it’s reported on the internet that Jacobs retired from wrestling in November, he said that isn’t true. His last competition was in December and he’s not ruling out future bouts.
“In WWE we always say ‘Never say never,’ so you never know what the future may hold,” Jacobs said
Jacobs said his family lived in Jefferson County about 16 years and in Knox County for about the last four years. He and wife, Crystal, have two grown daughters, both nurses.