Touting his experience in leading a major metropolitan city into its new renaissance, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean made a swing into Warren County last week, saying he wants to bring his leadership acumen to the Capitol Hill as governor of Tennessee.
“I care about our state and love public service,” Dean said in an interview with the Southern Standard at the Chamber of Commerce, noting he is middle-of-the road and is willing to reach across the aisle to work with both Republicans and Democrats. “It’s not about party. It is about getting things done and to do that, you need everyone working together.”
The Democratic hopeful pointed out he was confronted with the worst recession since the Great Depression when he first took office in 2007 as mayor of Nashville. However, by the time he left office in 2015 after his second term, Dean said Nashville was in an economic boom, getting the nickname of “crane town” for all the construction cranes that can be seen on the skyline.
As governor, Dean said one of the top issues he and the people of Tennessee will face is healthcare.
“It’s a question of safety and quality of life,” Dean told about 150 people who attended the Warren County Democratic Party supper at the Senior Center, noting healthcare costs are forcing the closure of many rural hospitals. “It’s also an economic issue because people are looking for a place to live that has hospitals nearby without having to drive 40 miles for medical care.”
Tennessee’s refusal to sign on to the federal medical expansion plan, Dean added, has cost hospitals $3.5 billion in federal funds.
“This isn’t money that’s being put in a savings account for us somewhere,” Dean said. “That’s money that’s being given to other states, money that we paid in as taxes but aren’t getting back because for whatever reason we turned the money down. I say if someone offers you $3.5 billion, you take it.”
Dean also said education will be high on his list if he is elected.
“Quality of life begins with education,” said Dean, indicating he strongly believes the state should improve its vocational and technical facilities for those who opt not to seek a four-year degree but instead want to go into areas like machining, industrial maintenance and other such fields. “We also need to increase teacher pay so we can keep our best and brightest teachers in Tennessee classrooms.”
Dean, who spent the entire day meeting the people of Warren County, said he thinks his eight years of executive municipal experience is something no other candidate will be able to match and his experience will help him hit the ground running when he is elected governor.