Recently, the North Nashville based Manna from Heaven Supper Club venue packed the house with candidates and candidate supporters for both the State House Representative (District 54) and State Senator (District 19) races.
Dedication to the political races and from each candidate’s supporters demonstrated a level of sincere commitment and solid concern. All seemed to be unbothered as the heat index in and outside of the venue ran its course that evening.
The segment of the forum for State Senator District 19 was moderated by Harriet Vaughn Wallace (Fox 17 Nashville WZTV reporter and host of Politics & Pumps). Former Councilman Duane Dominy also moderated the Statehouse Representative District 54 segment.
State House Representative District 54 candidates on hand included: Metro Councilman Scott Davis, John Smith, Lola Denise Brown, Terry R. Clayton and Vincent Dixie. Candidates for State Senate District 19 included: State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, Christina ‘Chris’ Callaway, George Thomas, Rev. Howard Jones, Ruben Dockery and Sandra V. Moore.
Each candidate was asked to share their inspirations behind running for their particular race during the high impact event.
Property Assessor of Davidson County Vivian Wilhoite provided bottles of cool water for the crowd. Nashville MTA (soon to operate as We Go Public Transit) representatives were on hand to provide information about the changes in the public transit bus system. State Rep. Harold M. Love and Thomas Hunter of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office were also present, supporting the forum. Various members of the Bordeaux Business Coalition and North Nashville Leadership Council (including realtor/entrepreneur Dan Lane) provided overall supportive forum remarks.
Candidates were asked questions like:
1) “What distinct qualifications/experiences do you believe make you the best candidate for State Representative/Senator?”
2) Many Tennesseans are uninsured as a result of Tennessee not accepting funds for Medicaid expansion. What is your position on Medicaid expansion and the stipulations that come with accepting the funds?
3) The House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. With the majority having different values and opposing views, what is your strategy for working successfully with others who are of a different persuasion?
4) What three laws or legislation do you hope to introduce, influence or reform should you be elected the next State Senator?”
5) Charter vs. Public Schools? Where do you stand?”
6) In light of recent reports about TN Ready, what is your position about online testing and why?
These questions were posed to Scott Davis and Sandra Moore:
The culture of the Metro Council and State House are different in contrast. Metro is constituent based and peer friendly. The State House and Senate are ‘Party based’ and controlled by Republicans. As seasoned council members running for State Representative, this can be a challenging shift. What qualities do you possess that will make you an effective Legislator vs. Council Representative?
This question was posed to Vincent Dixie:
Criminal Justice Reform is a top priority in our state and country. There is a movement to eliminate cash bails in the criminal justice system. As the owner of a bonding company and legislative candidate, do you believe there is a conflict of interest?
This question was posed to Brenda Gilmore:
Citizens like to feel connected and informed about legislation and laws that impact their lives and communities. Accessibility and lack of communication is a common concern about career politicians. Excluding elections, how do you plan to keep constituents informed and remain connected?
This question was posed to Howard Jones:
Being a State Senator is a full time, demanding responsibility. As a pastor, principal and entrepreneur, how do you plan to be an effective leader while wearing so many hats?
This question was posed to John Smith, Lola Brown, Terri Clayton and Reuben Dockery:
Most politicians start at grass root levels and work their way up. With little or no political experience, what inspired you to leap into the race for State Representative/State Senator?
Each candidate fully answered the questions posed. Depending upon whether the candidate was an experienced politician or becoming familiar with the political structure, their answers were heartfelt and impressive.
The Bordeaux Business Coalition and the North Nashville Leadership Council hosted the forum.
Tonya Sherrell, one of the organizers, spoke about how important and effective the implementation of timekeepers was for the forum.
“With the wide variety of questions coupled with the time granted for the candidates to answer them effectively and honestly, it often didn’t seem like it was enough space. But we remain grateful for the opportunity to get to know of them better and are looking forward to what lies ahead on election day,” said one attendee who chose to remain nameless.
Early voting has kicked off and voter registration, education, as well as additional information about the candidates or polling locations can be found online at www.nashville.gov/Election-Commission.aspx. For general election information, call (615) 862-8800.