There was a clear difference of opinion between the candidates running for office as the Southern Standard and WCPI held a political forum Thursday night.
With early voting starting Wednesday and continuing until Nov. 1, the intensity level was raised with the election soon to hang in the balance.
There was a spirited debate between state Rep. Judd Matheny and challenger Scott Price as they fight for the seat Matheny currently holds in the 47th District.
Janice Bowling and Jim Lewis disagreed on several key issues, including gay marriage and a state income tax, as they squared off to fight for an open Senate seat in the 16th District.
State Rep. Charles Curtiss and U.S. House hopeful Eric Stewart did not have their opponents participate.
Stewart took the opportunity of the open stage to blast Congressman Scott DesJarlais for not debating him.
“Do not accuse me of not knowing what I’m talking about on the issues when you have such disrespect for the people of this district that you won’t even come here and sit on a stage and talk about the issues that you truly believe in,” said Stewart.
The debate between Bowling and Lewis had its moment with both candidates laying out arguments to support their views. Bowling is against a state income tax and against gay marriage and she questioned Lewis about his stance on marriage.
“I want everybody to have the constitutional privileges that our constitution allows them to have,” said Lewis. “I want folks to be happy. I want them to be left alone. The fact some people of the same sex want to get married doesn’t bother me because it doesn’t affect my marriage to my wife and I don’t see it as being an important issue.”
Lewis asked Bowling why she was alienating some voters, in his opinion, by supporting the state’s photo ID law.
“I believe the photo ID is an excellent way to protect the integrity of the vote,” said Bowling. “People say no, you are disenfranchising, but I have talked to the administrators of election and I’ve talked to people on election commissions and there are provisions that can be made. We want to make sure the people who vote are alive. They are not convicted felons and they are legal residents of the state of Tennessee.”
Lewis said the most important issue facing Tennesseans, in his view, is affordable health care.
“I’ve been a pharmacist for 42 years. I deal with health care every single day of my life. I know some of the problems. I see some of the tragic circumstances that happen and I hear the stories constantly of people who have been knocked off TennCare, or who have lost their insurance. Occasionally in private business, like in health care, we find private business fails us miserably. When that occurs, I think it’s the perfect time for your government to serve the people and step in and make health care available to every person in the United States. No one should go bankrupt because they get sick.”
Bowling emphasized the need for everyone to do their part to help make Tennessee a better place for future generations.
“I am struck about what people are saying about their concerns for their children and their grandchildren. Good government is not a spectator sport. It takes each one of us doing what we have the ability to do to make certain we present to our children and grandchildren the same freedoms and opportunities that our parents and grandparents presented to us. What people very are concerned about this election cycle is protecting the values, the value of respecting life and I am pro life. The value of protecting traditional families. God instituted marriage between man and woman. And I’m also pro gun, pro education, pro jobs.”
In the other races, comments from Charles Curtiss in his bid for re-election, and Eric Stewart in his fight for Congress will be published in Wednesday’s edition. The debate between Judd Matheny and Scott Price will also be covered in that edition.