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.
One essential role for the government in economic growth and job creation is to have responsible legislation when any action is taken that can impact business. Legislation should be carefully crafted and well thought-out so that harmful effects can be foreseen and minimized. There should be an overall reluctance to interfere in the activities of private businesses, unless action is needed to protect citizens or to protect the integrity of the business environment, as in cases of fraud or unfair business practices. However, the legislature should resist the urge to create pre-emptive actions that are harmful to business and they should resist the urge to create new laws when existing laws can be used to address unethical and harmful actions that a business (or even an individual) engages in.
The government has a responsibility to create policies that promote business activities, growth and investment in the state, and allow businesses to flourish, so that they can create jobs and generate revenue for the state. The state should aggressively collaborate with local governments and use its resources to attract companies to Tennessee. While I do not agree with the concept of corporate welfare, I do see a role where the state can offer incentives to bring business to Tennessee or to help create small businesses. The state should, however, be sensible in creating business partnerships and avoid the losses that come from deals like the Hemlock Semiconductors failure. The government must be careful in spending taxpayer funds. The state should also be more active in assisting small businesses than it has been in the past. Our actions in helping small businesses are almost non-existent, and I would rather see 1,000 grants for $100,000 each to small businesses than a single $100 million payout to one large company.
What particular regulations of abortion would you support or oppose and why?
This is a particularly upsetting subject for me. I believe the Supreme Court in Roe vs Wade, violated their oath of office by creating a non-existent and false “privacy right”. If there really were a Constitutional right to privacy, then why are companies allowed to drug test applicants for a position as a nighttime stock boy? Why are police allowed to use no-knock warrants, and when they enter the wrong home and shoot the family dog, there are no consequences? Why does the NSA have an unlimited power to listen to every phone call and read every email? Why doesn’t this “right to privacy” apply to any other situation?
I am in favor of Amendment 1 to restore our right to regulate abortion. I would support informed consent (including a statement of the potential for negative mental health issues and long-term depression), a waiting period, and regulating abortion clinics the same as any healthcare organization. I would support and sponsor the prohibition of the use of taxpayer funds to cover abortions. In any abortion-related laws where an exclusion for the health of the mother is included, the wording should be clear and strongly state that an exclusion is only allowed where death or serious damage to a woman’s health is more likely in childbirth than the risk to the health of the mother is for an abortion. I believe the wording in Tennessee law is strong, but I am afraid that abortion providers will always try to find loopholes. I am also in favor of restricting abortion procedures to residents of Tennessee and requiring parental consent for abortions on girls younger than 18 years old. In addition, in cases of abortions for minors, information should be passed on to a prosecutor to see if rape charges are in order.
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.
I believe that parents have the primary and ultimate responsibility for the education of their children.
Examples: Parents should have the final say when a school system tries to force politically correct beliefs on their children. Parents should be able to opt out, on behalf of their children, from classes that violate their personally held religious beliefs. Parents should also be able to freely decide if they want to home school their own children, as long as education standards in academic subjects are met. In addition, parents should have choice in the school their children attend, and the State of Tennessee should expand charter schools and give parents and children more school choice.
The attempt by school systems to teach ethics in the last couple of decades has been an abysmal failure. The attempt by schools to assume the role of parents and to teach children their own version of moral truth just happens to coincide with the decline in the performance of high school students (which peaked in the 70s according to some studies, http://www.schoolchoices.org/roo/academic.htm).
When guidance counselors began prying into the home life of students and teaching the school’s official version of ethics is about the same time that the performance of our schools went down the drain. School systems do not and should not have the authority to teach morals apart from simply teaching good citizenship and acceptable behavior. When schools take this role, they not only abandon the role they are designed to perform, but they overstep the boundaries and infringe on a parent’s right to raise their own children in the way that the parents choose. I believe this is one of the reasons that only 15% of high school graduates in Tennessee meet all of the ACT college readiness baselines.
What is one of the most satisfying things you have ever accomplished and what made it so satisfying to you?
In May 1992, I received my Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. There are several reasons that I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I finally received my degree.
My performance in undergraduate school was unremarkable in many ways, and I graduated in 1988 from East Tennessee State University with slightly less than a 3.0 (2.968), after a bit of slacking and skipping semesters here and there. Professor Jeff Gold incited my interest in the University of Hawaii and comparative philosophy, so in January 1989, my wife and I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. Although I received a scholarship each semester from the East-West center and had promised myself that I wouldn’t work during graduate school, I ended up working full time in restaurant management during my time as a student. At one point, I was taking classes, managing a restaurant, and teaching a class, with one of my employees also being one of my students. The classes, from metaphysics to Sanskrit, were all challenging. While looking at some of the many papers I wrote during that time, I noticed the positive comments my professors wrote about my work. They were philosophers of stature in their own right, with all of them being published and well respected. I enjoyed my time in Hawaii and accomplished what I set out to do, but I also worked the hardest I had ever worked up to that point. I was successful and graduated with a 3.53 GPA. This is one of my most significant accomplishments, because it was something I accomplished with style and grace, in spite of the odds being against me. An average student from East Tennessee getting an MA in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii doesn’t happen very often.
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?
My strongest personal quality is that I don’t play games and I can’t ignore problems or injustice, even if my supervisors think I should. I am also a problem solver who thinks outside of the box, and I believe that is what we need in Nashville.
While working in restaurants, I had problems on two occasions with different companies because I refused to act unethically toward employees at the request of my area supervisors. In both situations, I refused to go along with the poor decisions of upper management, even though it put my employment at risk. This will define my service in Nashville.
I know there will be times when I will have to compromise to accomplish some of my goals. I also know that I will be able to work with those who disagree with me on some issues. I tell students bad news on a daily basis, and usually come up with a solution that makes them feel okay about the bad news.
However, there will be times when compromise is not in the best interest of the state or the citizens. I will not compromise on issues where there is a clear moral direction where we need to go.
I am also a problem solver, which is what I have done in all of my jobs and in my educational fields. I believe in basing decisions on sound research, looking at a problem from multiple points of view, and looking at the potential for a unexpected outcome based on what may seem