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TN History for Kids

Middle Six: The Governor

Governor Haslam visits a school in Dyersburg
PHOTO: Office of Governor Haslam

In November 2010, Republican Bill Haslam was elected governor over Mike McWherter, a Democrat from Jackson. He was re-elected in 2014. He cannot seek a third term in 2018, so a new governor will be elected at that time.

Haslam was previously the mayor of Knoxville. In fact, he is the first resident of Knoxville to be governor since 1869!

Here are some interesting things about our chief executive:

* He is a native of Knoxville who went to the Webb School of Knoxville (where he ran on the track team). He then attended Emory University in Atlanta, where he majored in history.

Haslam the track star
Office of Governor Haslam

* When he first got out of college, Haslam very nearly went to seminary to become a minister. But his father, who had founded a truckstop chain called Pilot, asked him to come work for the company for a "couple of years." That was in 1980.

* Haslam worked for Pilot for 22 years. When he went to work for Pilot, the company had about 800 employees; by the time he left, the company had 14,000. It is now called Pilot Flying J.

* Bill Haslam and his wife Chrissy have three kids, all in their 20s or 30s, and several grandchildren.

Governor Haslam doing one of his favorite things
PHOTO: Office of Governor Haslam

* As mayor of Knoxville for eight years, Haslam did many things. Among the things he is most proud of is reducing property taxes, reducing the city's debt and helping downtown Knoxville revitalize.

* Haslam's main opponent the first time he ran for mayor of Knoxville was Madeline Rogero, a longtime councilwoman and activist. Three years after he won the election, he brought Rogero on board as part of his cabinet. He later said that he was inspired to do this by something he had read in the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Today, Rogero is the mayor of Knoxville.

* Bill Haslam has been described as "high energy." One of his favorite things to do is ride bikes, and as you can see from this photo, he takes his bike riding seriously (and is a big believer in bike helmets).

* The governor is an avid fan of UT sports who has been known to pop up near the bench at UT basketball games and other such places.

You can read more about what Governor Haslam does day-to-day in the Advanced Civics section here.

In the meantime, click here to learn more about our elections process.