Beyond the 13 survey questions we asked each candidate on our voter guides, each candidate who answered the survey was given the opportunity, if they so chose, to respond to the following five essay questions in 300 words or less. On this page are the specific candidate’s answers. If a candidate answered some, but not all, of the questions, each unanswered question is marked as “No answer was provided.”
Explain your view of state government’s role in relation to economic growth and/or job creation.
I believe that the state government plays a vital role in how our economy expands, but it is not the force that causes this expansion. Government can provide public roads and schools that open the door to economic growth that would not have occurred otherwise. In cases of a monopoly, oligopoly, or monopsony, the state government can issue policies that set the market closer to where it would be in a competitive market. I believe that investing wisely to an efficient point (an efficient point being tax expenditures equal to the long-term tax revenue brought in from a policy) in areas like education will foster an environment in which businesses will be born, jobs will be created, and economic growth will increase. Education strengthens the economy, reduces crime, and lowers teenage birth rates. I am not afraid to invest in our students if it will pay off.
What particular regulations of abortion would you support or oppose and why?
I am pro-life in the strictest sense. I care for both the mother and the child, and I want both to succeed in life. I believe that the adoption system in our state is broken, causing Americans to have to adopt children overseas because of the difficulty of adopting here. That said, I am in favor of criminalizing abortion in all cases excluding rape, incest, and endangerment of the mother—but I believe that before we do so, we should make sure that the children that are born can easily be put into adoption and that they are well cared for in our system. I believe in gradually changing the system. Perhaps, rather than criminalizing abortion, we could naturally incentivize mothers to put their children up for adoption by fully covering the costs of having the child and putting it up for adoption. I would like to eliminate abortion as much as possible, and doing so will take gradual shifts and creative ideas, as no progress has been made in recent decades.
Do you believe parent(s) or government have the primary and ultimate responsibility for the education of children? Please provide at least one example that you believe demonstrates what you mean.
Parents. From the day a child is born, parents are the teachers in life. From our parents we learn how to speak, how to eat, how to dress, etc.. Our parents mold our characters that guide us through the rest of our lives. Traditionally, it is the parent who is responsible for the success or failure of a child. Yet, I do not believe that parents alone are equipped to teach the necessary skills that are taught in public schools. I am a first-generation college student; my parents taught me the basic skills to be successful in life, but they could not have instructed me effectively in calculus, grammar, or biology. They could not have taught me the social skills gained from working my way through 13 years of public school. Thus, I believe that the government should play an important role in educating students by providing strong public schools so that all students, no matter their background, can become whatever they desire to be.
What is one of the most satisfying things you have ever accomplished and what made it so satisfying to you?
Becoming the Vice President of Vanderbilt University’s only honors fraternity. My father grew up raising chickens and cattle; my mother grew up in a trailer. I grew up in the log house that they built with their own hands, chasing lizards and snakes that would crawl in on occasion. I loved that house and the old chicken barn below the hill, but I knew I wanted to do something more. So, from a young age I knew I wanted to do something to be proud of. I worked hard in my county school and was allowed to attend the best public school in my area. I worked to become valedictorian, student body president, mock trial captain, and varsity soccer starter. I sacrificed partaking in menial activities that occupy most young people, and I set my bar high. No one in my family went to college, but here I was interviewing for Harvard, to which I was deferred early acceptance. I got into Vanderbilt and bounced back from what I had deemed as failure. I worked hard to get on the dean’s list, was asked to join the honors fraternity, and worked my way to Vice President despite only being a sophomore. Knowing that this country boy with a public school background could perform higher than some students coming from private schools with costs equivalent to Vanderbilt’s allowed me to prove to myself that no matter where you come from, having faith and working hard will take you anywhere. It was satisfying to know that all my work had paid off.
What personal qualities or experiences do you think will define the nature of your service, if elected, and why do you think they are important?
I believe my drive to work, my desire to see my hometown prosper, and my levelheaded nature would define my service if elected. I believe all of these are important. If I were the smartest man in the world, but was unwilling to work, my district would benefit very little because the people would not be connected well to their legislator, and I could not pass bills that would benefit my district. My work ethic will ensure that I am always available to assist constituents and inform them of current issues. Furthermore, my family has been in this district since the 1790s: We are almost a part of this area, so I have a stronger incentive than most to ensure that this district is doing well. With regard to my levelheaded nature, I think that this is increasingly important as our political system becomes more polarized. “We are all Democrats, and we are all Republicans.” I do not believe that limiting yourself to only two options is good policy, and my willingness to cooperate with both sides will ensure that everyone within my district is represented by the legislation I have a hand in.