Candidates for state representative squared off recently at the Reagan Day Dinner, addressing issues ranging from Common Core to forced Syrian immigration.
“We should abolish the Department of Education and turn education back to the states,” said Dr. Steve Lynn, one of two opponents challenging incumbent Judd Matheny for the 47th District seat that serves all of Coffee County and about one-third of Warren County. “If you want something done effectively, don’t let government do it.”
His comments came when asked about Common Core and the federal mandates made to the Tennessee school systems. Matheny said he is not only against Common Core, but he helped stop Common Core from being the rule of the land.
“I strongly disagree with the federal government,” Matheny said, adding Tennessee should be able to adopt its own state standards. “We stopped Common Core from coming in here back in 2013.”
The third competitor, Will Lockhart, made it unanimous in rejecting Common Core.
“We need to be as autonomous as we can be as a state,” Lockhart said. “I’m for high standards.”
Candidates for the 43rd District seat, currently held by Democrat Kevin Dunlap, who serves Warren, White and Grundy counties, also did not like Common Core for the most part.
“If Common Core will work, let’s use it,” Sam Elder of White County said as he was the only one not to attack the Common Core idea. “We need to encourage community colleges and trade schools.”
Candidate Bobby Robinson, also of White County, said he resents being made to conform to federal regulations in education.
“We need to teach common sense, not Common Core,” Robinson declared. “We shouldn’t be held ransom to get federal money. It’s ours to start with.”
Paul Sherrell, also of White County, said teachers know best how to teach and should be allowed to do so without the federal government looking over their shoulder.
“We need to let our great teachers teach, not Washington D.C.,” Sherrell said.
While not having an opponent to debate since Republican hopeful Michael Shane Wilcher did not show up for the forum, incumbent state Sen. Janice Bowling added more disdain for Common Core.
“Common Core is rotten to the core,” Bowling said, noting even TNReady was a horrible failure. “TN Ready is neither Tennessee nor was it ready.”
As for their goals, the candidates revealed varying priorities if they get sent to Nashville to serve the people of their districts.
“I’m for bringing high-paying jobs here, not scoring political points,” Lockhart said.
“There are some problems it will take God to solve,” said Dr. Lynn. “I don’t mind standing if God is in my corner.”
“We’re fighting for the soul of the Republican Party,” Matheny said. “It’s a battle I will fight.”
“I’ve worked hard to be the voice of your values,” Bowling revealed. “Great government is not a spectator sport.”
Bobby Robinson said he has been a small businessman for 28 years and has small business at heart. “You need a country boy with humble ideas in Nashville.”
Sam Elder claimed incumbent Kevin Dunlap was not representing the district well in Nashville.
“He’s not doing his job,” Elder maintained, noting he served 34 years with the parks service. “Your voice will be heard.”
Paul Sherrell also said he is a small businessman and wants to make sure they are represented in Nashville.
“I see our values going down in our state government,” Sherrell said.
In the story about the U.S. Congressional forum held at the Reagan Day Dinner the quote: “I want the military to enforce the border. I don’t trust the border patrol. We need to go after those who are illegally here and deport them.” – was incorrectly credited. The quote was made by congressional candidate Grant Starrett.