Mark Harmon has been a teacher for most of his adult life, and his enthusiasm for helping the next generation is what motivates him. He wants to create opportunities for working families—as a way of giving back to those who opened doors for him.
Mark and his wife Becky live in the North Hills neighborhood of Knoxville. He served our area as an elected Knox County Commissioner from 2006 to 2010.
Some 22 years ago Mark Harmon moved to Knoxville to take a journalism and broadcasting professor job at the University of Tennessee. He’s still working there, earning two national awards for his teaching and three national honors for his column writing.
Mark was known on commission for standing up for neighborhoods whenever developers sought to run roughshod over them. He also reached across the political aisle to get things done on recall elections, holding a Medicaid provider to account, and developing a better and money-saving county vehicles policy.
Mark has been doing public service since his earliest days in our community. From 1999 to 2003 he volunteered his time to coach a speech and debate team at Knoxville College, sometimes driving them (and the UT team) in a van to tournaments as far away as Alabama and Ohio. He also was a mentor in the McNair Scholars Program.
For nine years Mark was a “big” in the Big Brothers program. He and his “little,” Levi, did a lot of movies, bowling, Smokies and Ice Bears games, and Par-3 golf. They remain in contact and still do things together.
During his time on County Commission, Mark was an advocate for respecting the will of the voters on term limits. When commissioners violated open meetings laws in the infamous “Black Wednesday” scandal and term-limits crisis, Mark testified for more than three hours about the misdeeds, leading to a victory for citizen groups.
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What Others Are Saying About Mark
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“Mark Harmon…won election to County Commission against all odds. Then he served his constituents—all of them—with distinction, doing so in spite of flying bullets and poisonous politics.”
Shopper News political columnist, Knoxviews, Dec. 18, 2008
“I really feel compelled to commend Commissioner Mark Harmon for the yeoman’s work he did as acting chair of the BZA [Board of Zoning Appeals] Thursday. The odds were stacked heavily against him, but he stood his ground and this time he won…Mark is generally outnumbered and frequently shouted down, but he walks the walk, and as a citizen of the 2nd District, he makes me damn proud.”
Larry Van Guilder
Shopper News columnist, Nov. 30, 2009
“Mark Harmon’s departure from commission will leave that body gasping for logic…Harmon may hold the commission record for casting votes for the losing side. But that’s a good thing, because in nearly every instance, Harmon has advocated for the right cause. The academy and a legislative body aren’t always the most comfortable of partners, but Harmon deserves credit for bringing his research skills to bear on such issues as the county vehicle policy.”
Knoxville News Sentinel
“Mark Harmon’s columns in the News Sentinel were eagerly awaited by friends and foes alike. His friends couldn’t wait to see what had captured Mark’s attention and imagination for the week and his foes hoped the columns weren’t about them, and they checked to make sure.”