A Little About Me – TV Edition

Community Television of Knoxville gives candidates for local office the opportunity for “Equal Time” on their channel. I got a letter from them inviting me to record a five minute piece about myself and my campaign. I recorded mine two days ago (Wednesday, February 5, 2020). I had originally scheduled my taping (which is funny to say because it’s a digital camera) for the week prior, but I had a little cold and figured it would be better not to be sick for my big moment.

The rules of the road were that we would get to speak for five minutes max. We had the opportunity to take two tries to get the best possible recording. They say that the segments will start airing “extensively” on their local channel today (Friday, February 7, 2020). It’ll also be available on their website.

One thing I should have paid more attention to was the fact that mention of a website was prohibited. I had drafted my speech and rehearsed it pretty extensively. I made reference to my campaign website twice in the final third of the speech. I also referred to campaign websites in general (which they also said was a no-go). So I had to rework the ending of the speech while I was standing there at the podium. Referencing your email was deemed ok, for some reason.

I did my first run through and I thought it was OK. A couple of stumbles and the ending was kinda blah. They said I could do a second and choose the best one. Since I had an acceptable product in the can, as they say, I went for another run through. It was better, I think I sounded more confident and the re-jiggered ending worked a little better the second time.

The setup was interesting, at least for someone who doesn’t do this stuff. I was in a very small room standing at a lectern. There was a Sony digital camera mounted on the wall straight ahead of me and a flat screen TV up and to the right of the camera. There was also an LED timer set to 5:05 (5 seconds to count me in). In the opposite corner of the small room was the board where the technician adjusted my level and centered me on the screen. The goal was to look directly and the camera and not look at myself on the screen. I think I ended up looking down at my notes a couple of times, but mostly I think I was successful in looking straight ahead and doing my thing.

I’ll embed the video here if they allow it. Or I’ll hyperlink it in this post at the very least. I figured, though, that my performance is going to be much less dynamic on the video than it was in my head or on the page. So, I’m going to share the text of what I wanted to say (including the part with the website that I had to cut out at the last second). Let me know what you think.

CTV Speech

Hi!  My name is Todd Frommeyer and I’m running for County Commission – 4th District.

I’m grateful to Community Television of Knoxville for the opportunity to talk to you directly and tell you a little bit about myself.

You know, this is only the second time I’ve been on TV – that I know of.  There’s a story behind the first time and I’d like to tell you about it.

I’m a 20 year military veteran and retired lawyer.  But back in the early days of my military career, I was a Navy Russian linguist.  I was assigned as a Russian interpreter on Arms Control Inspection and Escort Missions.  START, INF Treaty, Nuclear Testing.  So, when the Russians would come here, I would be part of the team to escort them around the site and do some interpreting.  Likewise, when we would go inspect Russian sites, I would go on those teams as well.

Around the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, I spent about 5 weeks in the city of Archangelsk in Northwestern Russia.   We were there to scout out locations for food and medicine that the US and its allies were sending to parts of the former Soviet Union in order to help with their transition to capitalism.  And it was there that I had my only other TV appearance.  The local Russian news was interviewing our Team Leader and they needed someone to do the interpretation from English to Russian for the report.  I have no idea how I did,  and to be honest, it’s all just a blur now.  I never even got to see the final product.  Still, it’s something I’ve never forgotten.  

So now, about 28 years later, here I am again on the small screen. I can tell you – It’s still as nerve-racking as it was then. 

As I look back on my lifetime of military and public service, two of the jobs I’ve had represent how I will approach being a Knox County Commissioner.  It’s the lessons I learned from these two jobs that will, I think, make me the best choice to be your representative on the Commission.

So, after my 8 years in the Navy, I used the GI Bill to help pay for law school and, after graduation, I was fortunate to be selected to become an officer in the Air Force – a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG).  A military lawyer.   I had some interesting assignments as a JAG.  I was stationed in Japan.  I was deployed to the Combined Air Operations Center in Qatar.  I was also deployed to Baghdad, where I was the Interrogations Law attorney assigned to Camp Cropper.  But, the best assignment I had as a JAG officer was when I was the Area Defense Counsel (ADC) at Tyndall Air Force Base.  The equivalent of that in the civilian world is a Public Defender.  If an Airman is in trouble with his commander or the AIR FORCE, the one person on the base that is there to help that Airman is the Area Defense Counsel.  If you’ve ever been in the military, you know that the military can be tough for young servicemembers.  I got to be there for them.  I was the one person who could help defend young Airmen from the system.

After I retired from the military, I went to work for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – otherwise known as the CFPB.  There, I was in the division of that Bureau where we took complaints from consumers who had a problem with big banks, their mortgage servicing company or credit card company or credit bureaus or debt collectors.  The CFPB as an entity has done a lot of good for all consumers across the country.  But the job I did was hands on with the people who just didn’t have any other recourse against big banks and other consumer financial companies.  I feel like I made a difference in the lives of the some of the consumers I helped.

So that’s where I’m going to put my focus as County Commissioner.  I’m going to stand up to the influence of money in Knox County politics.  I’m here for all of the residents of Knox County.  I’m here for the little guy.  I’m here for the people who don’t feel like their voices are heard.

There have been candidates in the past who have funded their campaigns with $500 checks.  With $1000 checks.  With Political Action Committee money.  But I’m not going to do that.  I’m not going to go out knocking on doors asking for donations.  I’m going to go knocking on doors and introduce myself to people and ask what they care about.  

I’m not going to blow through 10s of thousands of dollars on my campaign.  That’s not what politics should be about.  That’s not what my campaign is about.  

When you check out other campaign websites, what do they all have in common?  A Donate Now Button.  It’s a small thing, but it represents so much more.  So, yeah I’ve got a campaign website – toddfrommeyer.com.  But you’re not going to find anything like that on my website.  

Here’s what I’m using my site for.  I’m writing about my experiences.  I’m talking about what I think.  How I would act and vote as a Commissioner.  Just the things I’m doing on my campaign.  I’m trying to be as transparent as possible.  

So, If you want to read more about me and my family, or what I think or just what I’ve been doing, it’s all right there on my campaign website – toddfrommeyer.com.  I hope you’ll come take a look and I hope you’ll consider voting for me on March 3 and August 6.  Thank you.

Published by Todd Frommeyer for Knox County Commission

Retired Air Force JAG, former Navy Russian linguist, former consumer financial regulator, political junkie

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