Decision 2018

Two most important issues? Where opponent’s views are weak?

State House, District 14 candidates

Democrat Justin Davis

The two issues that I feel are most important in this election are education and healthcare.

I believe that education and healthcare are not a privilege, they are a right. These are two issues that voters often bring up with me, and they are also issues in which my opponent and I share very different views.

My opponent sponsored HB2208, which would arm our teachers with firearms. I prefer to arm our teachers with the tools they need to educate our students. Our teachers carry enough responsibility without the added burden of being responsible for a firearm in their classrooms.

Tennessee teacher wages rank 37th nationally. This is unacceptable. I will work to provide teachers with much deserved pay raises so that we retain our hard-working teachers. My opponent also strongly supports the voucher system. This would only pull more funding away from our already underfunded public schools.

While our teachers are already underpaid, they are often forced to use money from their own pockets to purchase much needed school supplies. It is vital

that we fully fund our public school system. Education is the key to a successful future in Tennessee.

When our schools succeed our communities succeed. With great schools comes a well-educated workforce. This leads to economic growth and our citizens have access to quality jobs and employer-based healthcare, providing a better quality of life.

My opponent has vowed to never pass Medicaid expansion. When our hospitals are closing, we are facing an opioid epidemic, those of us with insurance face rising premiums, and thousands of our citizens are left uninsured. I do not know how we can afford not to expand Medicaid.

We are already sending our tax dollars to Washington D.C. and that money is being sent to

other states who have expanded Medicaid. I want to bring our tax dollars back to Tennessee to work for our state. When our hospitals close many lose jobs and our citizens lose access to critical healthcare.

The number of Tennesseans battling opioid addiction continues to grow.

Families are being torn apart, crime has risen, and many have lost their lives. My opponent has claimed that there is nothing the government can do. I feel the government can play a leading role in helping to finally end the opioid crisis.

Thousands of our citizens are without insurance. Many are unable to work due to disability and are without access to needed care. Tennessee leads the nation in minimum wage jobs, leaving many without access to insurance. We can provide healthcare coverage to our elderly, our disabled veterans, and our low-income children.

We have an obligation to ensure that we are doing all we can to provide healthcare to Tennesseans. And we can start by simply expanding Medicaid.

Please vote. Your vote is your voice.

GOP incumbent Jason Zachary

Over my last three years serving you in the House of Representatives, the top two issues have been and still remain healthcare and education.

The rising cost of healthcare affects every age and demographic. Additionally, the federal government seems to think that coverage is the same as quality healthcare. It is not.

I have sponsored and co-sponsored multiple bills over the last three years to address the rising cost of healthcare and provide quality healthcare options for those looking for alternatives to insurance.

Tennessee has seen the uninsured rate drop by over 4 percent in the last five years due to a thriving economy. We have also seen over 26k people roll off TennCare to quality healthcare options. The drop in the uninsured is due to our thriving economy and additional options we have provided in Tennessee, such as Direct Primary Care.

I also carried a bill last year that addresses surprise bills from hospitals. Medical facilities now have to inform you of the cost before billing you if you are out of network.

I’m working on additional legislation for this year that will further address surprise billing from physicians. It is unfortunate that Democrats, including my opponent, want to expand a broken government healthcare program in Medicaid.

We have seen a significant drop in the uninsured in Tennessee without expanding a broken federal government program that does not address healthcare. The cost of expansion in other states, such as Arkansas, have costs states well over $200 million dollars a year.

The expansion of Medicaid would force us to cut resources to law enforcement and public education. We are making tremendous progress in Tennessee without moving one step closer to single payer healthcare run by the federal government.

The second most talked about issue in our district is education. The Legislature has increased spending in public education by $1.5 billion dollars over the last eight years. We have increased funding in Knox County Schools by $60 million in the last four years. I have voted for teacher raises in both terms in office.

This has led to incredible improvements in education in Tennessee. We still have challenges that must be addressed. The issues specific to education that I’m addressing now and will address in this year’s Session are the broken portfolio evaluation for kindergarten teachers, insuring schools keep larger portions of their dollars from fundraising and expanding vocational


Unfortunately, Democrats, including my opponent, only want to talk about limiting options for parents and complain about us not spending enough money in education without offering actual solutions.

As mentioned above, Republicans have increased funding by over $1 billion dollars, but there is still work to do in order for our teachers to thrive and students to succeed.

Any issue that may be important to me is driven by the people of the 14th District.

U.S. Representative, 2nd District

Republican Tim Burchett

The first issue is standing up for our veterans. My father was a Marine who served in the Pacific theater during World War II, and my uncle died fighting the Nazis in France. Since I was a young boy, I have had the greatest respect for the men and women who fight to protect our freedom and way of life.

As mayor, I worked hard to honor our veterans and expand vital services for them. From raising money for Wreaths Across America to launching a new program to help veterans dealing with PTSD, I am proud of the work we have done here in East Tennessee.

But there is more work to be done – especially at the federal level. Our brave veterans are forced into a broken healthcare system that is hamstrung by red tape, bureaucratic nightmares and life-threatening waitlists. Some of our veterans are forced to drive hours just to get the care they need. To this day, the V.A. wastes millions of taxpayer dollars in overpayments and budget overruns and continues to suffer from a backlog that means disabled veterans are not getting their checks. Of Tennessee’s four V.A. hospitals, one is rated a single star out of a possible five stars, two are rated two stars and one is rated four stars. This is unacceptable.

In Congress, I will fight to reform the Veterans Administration using free-market reforms that eradicate red tape and create a system where veterans can get the health care they need anywhere they want. We shouldn’t continue to pour money into a broken system that routinely fails our veterans. Unfortunately, my opponent believes in big-government solutions that will only make the problem worse. Her vague reference to veterans on her website does not mention anything about reforming the V.A., and appears to support maintaining the bureaucratic mess in its current form.

The other critical issue is job creation. For eight long years, small businesses, farmers and other workers struggled under the onerous regulations of the Obama administration. Our economy is just starting to recover from these unnecessary burdens. That’s why I support making the tax cuts permanent, continuing to eliminate the tens of thousands of absurd regulations that make up the Code of Federal Regulations and creating new opportunities for our economy to grow.

Unfortunately, my opponent supports a return to the regulatory scheme under the Obama years. Her vague policy positions include mandates for renewable energy, which will cause energy costs to skyrocket for every family and business throughout East Tennessee.

We need to move away from big-government “solutions” that reward the politically connected in Washington D.C. but hurt the hardworking taxpayers across the Second District.

Democrat Renee Hoyos

As I have campaigned throughout the Second District, healthcare has been a top issue for so many people. I want to help shore up the Affordable Care Act so that prices will stabilize for the individual markets. I would like to make the eligibility age for Medicare 55, with an adequate premium, to create more competition in the health insurance market place.

And, I would like to pass legislation that will bring down pharmaceutical drug prices through more negotiated pricing and increased generic drugs on the market for consumers.

This is a problem that Congress must address.

In contrast, my opponent would repeal the Affordable Care Act with no replacement. He would eliminate the requirement that health insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions. And, he has no plan to address pharmaceutical drug pricing.

These actions (or lack of proposals) would do nothing to help the average Tennessean find and maintain adequate healthcare. In fact, they would put health care decisions and pricing back in the hands of corporate executives who are more concerned about profits.

Tennessee has among the largest number of individuals making the minimum wage (

And, Tennessee does not set its own minimum wage, relying on the federal level. $7.25/hour is not sufficient and should be increased.

I would support efforts to raise the minimum wage to $10.25/hour. This could occur in incremental increases near one dollar/hour for three consecutive years. This would raise the wage to what the MIT Department of Urban Planning (which manages the Living Wage calculator) has determined is a living wage for the Knoxville region.

With the economy performing well, now is the appropriate time to raise the minimum wage to help workers all across Tennessee.

My opponent does not support an increase in the minimum wage. In fact, as a state legislator he opposed a measure that would have allowed municipalities to increase local wage rates if they chose.

He has fought and will fight against increasing wages for low-income workers. That will do nothing to break the wage stagnation that continues to affect our labor force.


Democrat Karl Dean

Number one is education, which I do believe is the most important thing for our state.

We need to be a state that produces more college graduates, but we also need to prepare young people who choose not to go to college — that have a trade, a vocational background, a technical background where they can get good jobs, earn more than the minimum wage and be able to raise their families.

We need to be paying our teachers more. We’re losing them to the private sector.

And then you go to other parts of the state and you’ll see us losing teachers to Georgia, losing teachers to Kentucky — we do not pay a competitive rate with other states.

And they don’t need to be buying supplies with their money — and they can’t even deduct that.

And I am against arming teachers in our public schools. I think that’s the wrong approach, and my opponent is OK with it. Almost anything could happen.

We need to work with resource officers, have more resource officers, retired Sheriff’s officers and retired police people. We’re talking about our kids, it’s worth spending the money to make sure they are safe. Let the professional handle it.

And secondly, we’ve got to get healthcare right. That is something more and more people are understanding.

As I travel about the state, I get the sense that people have figured this one out: they know now what a terrible decision that was not to do the Medicaid expansion.

Republicans in the General Assembly made the decision not to expand Medicaid and turned down all this money because they didn’t like who the President of the United States was, Barack Obama.

I think my opponent’s position on Medicaid expansion, to me, is not looking at reality. We’re losing millions of dollars every day, we are having our citizens be unprotected by insurance, and we’re having hospitals close. But we can take an action that would change that, that would make our state more fiscally secure and provide more health coverage to people and make our small towns more prosperous.

We have hard-core evidence what has happened because of the decision not to fund Medicaid expansion. We have lost $4 billion in money that could have been used to get access to healthcare to people with low incomes, working people who aren’t below the poverty level but who can’t get insurance.

This would have given them a chance to get insurance: the people with disabilities, the people with pre-existing medical conditions. And we said “no” to that.

We have 300,000 people in our state without insurance that could have had it.

We now have had 11 hospitals that have closed in Tennessee, and that really hurts rural Tennessee. And that begins that spiral of the tax base leaving and life going down.

Republican Bill Lee

Everywhere I go in the state, people want a good job, a great school for their kids and a safe neighborhood for their family. My priorities are going to be focused on securing these three things: improving education, supporting economic development and strengthening public safety.

Under Gov. Bill Haslam’s leadership, Tennessee has made tremendous strides, but I believe we have more work left to do. Whether it’s improving education or addressing critical needs in our at-risk rural and urban communities, I believe that with the right leadership Tennessee can lead the nation.

Education in our state should be preparing students with the skills they need to get a great job, regardless of whether or not they choose a traditional four-year college after graduation. Unfortunately, many quality jobs in our state are left unfilled because we simply aren’t preparing students to fill these jobs.

I will bring together local schools, the Department of Education, and our private sector to begin putting the resources in place to give students improved job training opportunities. Students should leave high school with the skills needed for a job and that includes exposure to vocational, technical or ag training before they graduate.

The private sector can and should be an important partner in this process. I’ve created a program in my company called Lee University that equips men and women with vocational and technical training and more than 1,000 students have participated in the program. The state can engage private sector partners to better educate students and assist in workforce development.

Another area that I believe the private and non-profit sectors can be a powerful partner is in our prison reform efforts. Tennessee’s recidivism rate is astonishingly high and here’s why it matters to you and me – 95% of people in our jails are getting out but many of them will re-commit a crime. The state needs to think about recidivism rates, because we want prisoners who are ready to re-enter society, not re-enter prison.

I share these examples to offer an important distinction: Government cannot solve all of the problems facing our state – we must engage the people. Throughout this race, my vision for Tennessee has been different because I am adamant that we should not be growing the size of government to solve our problems, but instead look to work with the private and non-profit sectors.

Democrat Phil Bredesen

Health care is important, but it’s frustrating for many Tennesseans. Before running for office, I was CEO of a health care company that I started from scratch and grew to 6,000 employees.

When I became governor in 2003, TennCare was a disaster and on its way to bankrupting our state. After exhausting other avenues, we discontinued coverage for two categories of adults that had been added to our Medicaid system under TennCare and saved the program so that all children were covered.

We provided members who were disenrolled with assistance in finding alternatives and we established a high-risk pool for Tennesseans who could not obtain coverage due to pre-existing conditions. We also created CoverTN — a limited-benefit health insurance package for Tennesseans who did not have access coverage. TennCare has gone on to be a nationally-admired, high quality program. It has remained one of the most financially stable Medicaid programs in the nation. I have the track-record of getting things done for Tennessee and I’m ready to help fix the mess in Washington.

I was a constructive critic of the Affordable Care Act when it was first proposed; I don’t think it’s the long-term solution. But many Tennesseans depend on it, and they are becoming collateral damage to Washington’s political gamesmanship. Senator Alexander’s bipartisan plan to stabilize insurance markets is a good start toward fixing it.

My opponent has voted several times to repeal the Affordable Care Act without offering a replacement. There’s something wrong with someone who’s been in Washington for 16 years and has had health care fully paid by the federal government voting to take health care away from 250,000 Tennesseans with no idea how to replace it. It makes no sense.

It’s no secret we have an opioid crisis in Tennessee, and there is no shortage of recommendations to address it. The first step to recovery is for Congress to admit it has an opioid problem. Two years ago, Congress passed a bill — one Big Pharma wanted and one that my opponent co-sponsored — defanging the DEA’s authority to intercept big opioid shipments. Congress could begin recovery by fixing this immediately.

In August, I announced that my first act as a U.S. Senator would be to introduce legislation that re-empowers law enforcement in their fight against the opioid epidemic and fixes the mess Congresswoman Blackburn’s bill created. Nearly a year ago, she publicly said that she would address the problems that her legislation created but has done nothing. When Congresswoman Blackburn had the opportunity to vote for the “single biggest effort” by Congress to address the opioid epidemic last month, she skipped the vote. She has, however, taken $861,000 in campaign contributions from drug companies, a clear sign that she’s more concerned with drug distributors than Tennessee families who are victims of this epidemic.


Contact information:

Republican Marsha Blackburn

Despite repeated attempts by farragutpress to secure the views of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-District 7), in her bid for the open U.S. Senate seat, to respond to questions similar to those answered by Democrat and former Gov. Phil Bredesen, her General Election opponent, no such response was received as of 10 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23.

We regret if this was due to a misunderstanding, but feel we did everything to contact, and encourage, a Blackburn response.

Blackburn did, however, join most candidates contacted and did respond to a more detailed set of campaign questions, which we ran online in mid-July.

This weekly newspaper does not back any political candidate for office, be it Town of Farragut, Knox County, state of Tennessee or federal.