Dr. Rick Wilson served as moderator of the Hamilton County Democratic Party Executive Board meeting Thursday at East Lake Park during which Democratic candidates for the Tennessee General Assembly presented their platforms.
For House District 26, Dr. Lawrence G. Miller was represented by his son, David, who read a statement from the candidate, who was in England attending the graduation of another of his sons. “We have let the politics of special interests drive our state,” he wrote.
“We need to put Tennesseans back to work by expand access to job programs.” Mr. Miller also declared that he would be the leader in the fight to end the state’s extremely high grocery tax “that hurts the average Tennessean the most. The best government comes from the center, and I want to help create a sensible, bipartisan majority in the House.”
For House District 27, Frank Eaton began by saying that perhaps he should simply run on a platform of “not being crazy.” He noted that as a product of a working-class family, “I have seen what the recession has done to working-class families.” Instead of focusing on jobs, education and the environment, the current legislators are introducing and supporting “don’t say gay”, “the monkey bill” and other fringe issues, he said. He also stated, “The last thing we should be doing is cutting the benefits and jobs of teachers.”
For House District 28, incumbent Rep. Tommie Brown spoke of her 20 years of service in the State House and her accomplishments on the Education and Finance Committees, including fighting to have college scholarships awarded based on grade point averages of 3.0 and better as opposed to simply on ACT scores. She acknowledged that supporting Democratic goals in the current legislature was not easy. “But I am not a captain who jumps off a sinking ship,” she said. “Am I big enough and strong enough to stand it? Yes, I am.”
Rep. JoAnne Favors, Rep. Brown’s Democratic opponent in the primary due to redistricting, said that she is running because supporters had asked her to. She pointed to her accomplishments on the Health & Human Resources Committee and noted that she has been appointed to a special task force overseeing implementation of the healthcare exchange aspects of the Affordable Care Act. “Education, education, education is what I want to focus on,” she said. “Our population must be well educated to take the jobs of the future.”
For House District 29, Dr. Wilson noted that because the district maps had not been provided to county Democrats until so late in the process, no Democratic candidate is on the ballot in District 29. He urged Democrats to engage in a heavy write-in vote.
For House District 30, L. Brock Bennington stated that he is a veteran of several overseas tours in the National Guard and a law enforcement officer for 14 years. Veterans’ rights are a major component of his platform, he said, along with a commitment to being an accessible representative. “I promise you that if you called my office, I will give you a call back,” he said.
For State Senate District 10, Andrae McGary stated, “Make no mistake, we are under attack from Republicans.” He related how he had been approached to run as a Republican and told his campaign would be financed if he agreed. “But when I asked my Republican friends, ‘What will you do for poor people?’ there was silence,” he said. “I am not for sale and District 10 is not for sale.” A good education is not a privilege, but a right, he said, noting that as a parent, he has had to make a decision about keeping a child in a school rated as “failing. It’s heart wrenching, and no parent should be placed in that position. And our kids should be able to leave school and say, ‘I’m here to succeed’, not ‘I’m here to catch up.’”
District 10 candidate David Testerman said, “I have seen many decisions made at the state level and then presented to the community as ‘This is what you will do.’ I will listen to the community before making those decisions.” He emphasized his career beginnings as a pipefitter, transitioning to 30 years in education. “We need good schools, safe streets and good jobs,” he said. “Our teachers are not failing, and public schools are one of the greatest assets of our democracy.” He added that he was the last county coordinator of Youth Employment and Training before that program was phased out, and that similar programs are needed to give young people “real world experience.”
Candidates Sandy Smith, Brian White, Quenston Coleman and Sherman Matthews were not available to speak at the event.
A candidates’ roundtable on education, featuring the Democratic candidates for State House and Senate seats is scheduled for June 14. Additional details on the roundtable will be released in early June.