Local elections are important for several reasons, not least among them that they decide how policy and laws closest to home are decided on and where federal funding is allocated. In addition to choosing a president this year, voters in Tennessee will have the opportunity to decide who represents them on a state and local level this November.
All across the state, there are several close elections that will decide which direction Tennessee will move in the future. Here is a brief overview of some of the most hotly contested districts during this election cycle.
Those participating in Maryville College Democrats, or MC Dems, will remember Gloria Johnson, who came to visit the meeting held at the Center for Campus Ministry on Sept. 16. Johnson was previously elected in 2012 in State House district 13, and then went on to lose to her opponent Eddie Smith by a mere 182 votes in the 2014 election.
Her platform is education reform, job growth, and health care reform through Insure Tennessee, a plan sponsored by Bill Haslam. Supporters say the plan will insure almost 300,000 people statewide who currently have no access to care.
In regards to the importance of voting in local elections, Johnson said, “It’s important to study what the candidates stand for so you can vote for the person who will fight for what you care about. Tennessee is 50th in the county in percentage of people voting, we can do better. Your vote is your voice, make your voice heard!”
Representative Eddie Smith, Johnson’s opponent and the incumbent, was elected in 2014. Smith is somewhat of a rising star in the Tennessee Republican party, being promoted to Deputy Whip by Jeremy Durham, the current House Republican Whip.
Smith is running on a platform of education, infrastructure and job growth. He is also anti-income tax and pro-gun. He carries a 100 percent rating from Tennessee Right to Life and a 91 percent rating from the American Conservative Union.
Smith voted against Insure Tennessee, saying that the issue is “complex.”
In Knoxville’s 15th District, Representative Joe Armstrong has dropped out of the race. Armstrong, a state representative of 28 years, was found guilty of filing a false tax-return. Since the conviction, the Knox County Democratic Party has decided to support Rick Staples, a community organizer.
Staples has no formal campaign website, but his campaign can be reached on Facebook. Staples will be running against independent candidate Pete Drew.
Voting is important. It may not seem that way, and a fair few of you might feel like your vote doesn’t count. To an extent, you’re right. But this election cycle is clearly different, you only need to look at the presidential race to see that.
This cycle, it seems the political playbook has been thrown out the window. If you live in any of the districts I mentioned, or if you live in Tennessee at all, I hope you go out and vote on Election Day.
The system rarely works, but when it does it’s a beautiful thing. We should all count our blessings that we live in a country where we can participate in the system. Even if it is only by casting a solitary vote.
Edit: The Highland Echo would like to make a correction. The article claimed State Representative Eddie Smith voted against Insure Tennessee, however, the bill never came to a vote on the floor.