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.
State government cannot create jobs, at least not the kind that are sustainable and produce products and services that people need and will buy. What the State of Tennessee needs to do, with aggressive leadership from the legislative branch, is to keep corporate excise taxes as low as possible and abolish silly, foolish, time-consuming regulations and the related paperwork on small business. To put it another way, get State government out of the way and let freedom ring!
That said, some my counties, which are overwhelmingly rural, could perhaps use help in building on what they already have. The University of Tennessee’s College of Agriculture has been exploring possibilities of new markets in the Far East for our farmers, who can grow agricultural products that Americans don’t use but, say, the Japanese will buy.
One county in my district—and one of the poorest in Tennessee—has a bountiful, live musical culture. Not much recorded in Nashville is worth listening to any more. But these “pickers and grinners” carry on the real old time songs—and write more like them. I’ve asked state departments for tourism and economic development to see how this county can become the next Branson.
What particular regulations of abortion would you support or oppose and why?
I support in full the Constitutional amendment on the ballot in November. I have received this statement of support from Tennessee Right to Life. (Please note: TRL does not endorse candidates, but I couldn’t be more pleased or proud about this:
“Tennessee Right to Life is grateful for the consistent and principled pro-life leadership of Jim Summerville. Not only did he cast his vote to place pro-life Amendment 1 on the ballot, Senator Summerville’s record demonstrates compassion and courage including prioritizing treatment and care for the most vulnerable pregnant women in our state. Pro-life voters can have confidence in casting their YES votes for both Amendment 1 and state Senator Jim Summerville.”
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.
Parents should have complete charge over the decisions about their child’s education. To that end, I have supported, and will continue to support, allowing parents to spend their money for this purpose as they see fit: vouchers, charters, homeschooling, faith-based academics, and, of course, traditional public schools.
Forgive me for citing a personal example, but it’s one I know well: for several years I taught freshman English at Austin Peay. My very best students, at least in terms of preparation for college were (1) non-traditional folks, who in most cases were a little older than most of their classmates (2) veterans, and (3) youngsters who had spent their young lives in homeschooling. These last generally stood head and shoulders above those from traditional public schools, who were often sweet, competent, but rarely imaginative or able to “color outside the box.”
What is one of the most satisfying things you have ever accomplished and what made it so satisfying to you?
About a month after I took office, I got a call from a gentleman in one of my counties, a sixth-generation dairy farmer. After the great flood of May 2010, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation had fined him because his offal pits washed out into a stream bed.
For a year, he had sought to appeal the decision on the grounds that nothing on earth could have stopped that water. TDEC middle and senior managers turned a deaf ear.
I was outraged. I invited Farmer Jones to meet with me in a Senate conference room on a date at his convenience. Then I left word at TDEC that I wanted someone from the department there who could resolve this matter.
At the appointed time, I declared, “We have an hour. At the end of that time, all parties are going to be done with this case.”
To shorten the story: Everyone had their say—and TDEC had absolutely nothing in its favor. I declared that Mr. Jones was guilty of nothing, and all charges, accusations, fines, letters of reproof, and the rest should be destroyed.” TDEC then shredded the file.
An honest, good man had been put through months of needless anxiety, only because some bureaucrat “dressed in a little brief authority” wanted to assure his (self-) importance
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?
The people of my district love their small towns, their country home places, and memories of their ancestors. They love their God and their country and beautiful Tennessee. They’re hardworking, proud, and independent.
I can serve them well in the Senate because I come from the same kind of salt-of-the-earth people. My grandfather (in whose house I live, built in 1922) worked as a miller. (His clothes were covered in flour at the end of the day.) He grew some of the staples for the kitchen table, and although I’ve never farmed, I honor those who do. I’m a member of the Farm Bureau, and have consistently supported its legislative platform.
I favor a streamlined state government, letting more people keep more of the dollars now going for taxes. I want to make it harder for young people to acquire pornography, like Cosmopolitan magazine. And, for their sakes too, let’s do something about the high cost of college, the debt they’re piling up to attend, and the degraded bachelor’s degree that’s not much better now than a high-school diploma.
Those are a few things I’m for. Here’s what I’m against: Obamacare; common core; and homosexual “marriage,” so-called.
And I’m against professional politicians who have never done anything but live on their pay from public office. Let me declare here and now: I’m term-limiting myself. If the voters send me back to Nashville for a second term, it will be my final one.