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Dean says education crucial
Karl Dean Archie Driver water fountain
James Clark photo Karl Dean, right, a Democratic candidate for Tennessee Governor, shakes hands with Archie Driver on Monday night at the Morrison Ruritan building.

He says too many Tennesseans feel forgotten and communities are being left behind.

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean was in Morrison on Monday night to tell local residents he will make a difference if elected Tennessee Governor.

Dean, a Democrat, says his practical approach to leadership paved the way for the unprecedented growth Nashville continues to experience today. Without raising taxes, Dean says 171 police officers were added during his eight-year term from 2007 to 2015 and teacher salaries were also increased. He says education remains one of his top priorities.

“My polling shows, and Vanderbilt polling shows, the No. 1 things people are concerned about are education, jobs and healthcare,” said Dean before serving as keynote speaker at the monthly Morrison Ruritan meeting.

Dean says the state’s last two governors, Phil Bredesen and Bill Haslam, have made education a focal point and the results are apparent. More Tennesseans than ever are earning college degrees and better-paying jobs are locating here as a result.

Many Tennesseans list healthcare as their chief concern, according to Dean. He had visited 94 of the state’s 95 counties as of Monday night and said he would be visiting the 95th county shortly.

“If you’re in a part of the state where there’s been a hospital to close, that’s a big issue,” said Dean referring to 10 rural hospitals to close in recent years. “The opioid crisis, if you want to combine that with healthcare, that’s a big issue.”

When asked if some of those 10 rural hospitals could have been saved if Tennessee were to opt into the Affordable Care Act, Dean said, “Medicaid expansion would make a difference. Tennessee still needs our fair share when it comes to healthcare dollars. It certainly exacerbates the situation when you take away those dollars. It’s a complicated issue, especially surrounding rural medicine.”

When asked about enacting gun control as a way to slow the mass shootings we’re seeing in Tennessee and throughout the nation, Dean started by stressing he’s a firm supporter of the Second Amendment. However, he admitted the shootings are occurring with alarming regularity and suggested some government action.

“Nothing is going to happen unless we have a common agreement and I think an area where most people can agree is that we don’t need people who are mentally unstable running around with guns,” said Dean in promoting a need for greater background checks.