KNOXVILLE — Rick Kingery resigned as acting president of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 23. Kingery, who was slated to serve as president in 2018 is the sixth person to leave the Chamber board since April.

According to Chamber rules, the serving past president, Ben Butler, will fill the role of president for the rest of 2017. The Chamber, in a news release, thanked to Kingery. Treasurer Christine Richards said the chamber is firm in its mission and goals and is developing plans to move forward.

“With the absence of a director and only part-time clerical support, we are definitely a working board,” she said. “With jobs and family commitments, not everyone has the time or dedication that the board requires. We hope to attract individuals who are willing to contribute what is necessary to expand the organization while meeting the needs of the membership with the additional responsibility of staying within budget.”

While the Chamber news release said Kingery resigned to focus on other commitments, Kingery told the Journal-Express that he felt pressured to quit after a small group of community leaders threatened to revoke their Chamber membership if he remained on the board. He said that his voting record as a member of the Knoxville City Council was cited as a reason for the leaders’ concern.

“When I decided to run for city council two years ago, I told the groups I was involved with that if my city council role interfered with my volunteer role, I would step away from my volunteer position,” “Kingery said in an e-mail to the Journal-Express. “Rather than be a distraction to the Chamber, I decided I would resign my position on the board.”

“As much as I have loved volunteering in the community, a small group of our ‘community leaders’ has made it impossible for me to be a part of any group,” Kingery said. “Since moving back to Knoxville in 2011, I have been asked to be a part of many volunteer efforts. I have enjoyed it and have spent many hours in meetings, planning and implementation for the benefit of Knoxville’s residents. You could say my hobby was volunteering. The sad part is none of the criticism is based on my abilities as a volunteer, but because small-minded people have an issue with me personally.”

Kingery affirmed the work of the Chamber and mentioned that his City Council voting record has supported local businesses.

“I hope that the chamber will move forward and continue to do positive things in the community,” Kingery said. “I also hope that those chamber members who wanted me out will step up and fill the vacant seats on the board of directors.”

The chamber encourages people willing to fill one of the four vacant seats on the board to call (641) 828-7555 or send an e-mail to chamber@winwithknoxville.com. It also announced four new members: Red Rock Grill and Still, Accura Healthcare, the Knoxville office of the United States Postal Service, and Becky Struve.

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