Elam vs. Lynn: Spats Over Redistricting, Style in House District 57

Chas Sisk has a review of the House District 57 clash between Rep. Linda Elam and former Rep. Susan Lynn, which is something of a personality contest between two Tea Party conservatives..
Lynn said she believes she has the voters on her side. She points out that she carried Wilson County by nearly 1,700 votes in her unsuccessful effort against Beavers — a lead that evaporated in other counties.
Elam questions Lynn’s devotion to the 57th District. After reapportionment in January, Lynn’s home, off Coles Ferry Road, now lies in the neighboring 46th House District, Elam notes.
“She doesn’t even live in the district where she is purporting to want to represent people,” Elam said. “I see that as — I don’t want to say the word that came to mind. I see that as disrespectful to the voters.”
Lynn defends herself by saying that state lawmakers, including Elam, redrew the 57th District to exclude her. Although state law doesn’t require residency in a district — only that the representative live somewhere in a county that overlaps its boundaries, as is the case with Lynn — she pledged to move after the election.
“I think it’s extremely disingenuous,” Lynn said. “This is the area that I represented for eight years.”
The spat over district lines reflects the tenor of the race.
Elam is quick to highlight the contrast in style between her and Lynn, who frequently made headlines during her four terms in office. Elam conducts herself in public like the banking and commercial lawyer she once was, saying she prefers to work behind the scenes.
“I am levelheaded. I am solid. I am conscientious. I am easy to work with, and I don’t do drama,” she said. “I go down to the Capitol to do the people’s business.”
As proof, Elam points to a campaign fundraiser earlier this month in which 58 of her 63 House colleagues, including House Speaker Beth Harwell and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, were listed as co-hosts.
Lynn says she did not seek out news coverage, either, but admits that it finds her on occasion.
Attention-getting measures Lynn backed over the years include attempts to reverse the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee, reassert the sovereignty of the states over the federal government and protect people from having microchips forcibly implanted under their skin.
Such legislation was filed out of principle, Lynn said, not to grab attention.
“I don’t write the newspaper articles.”
Lynn also flips the drama accusation around. She notes that Elam was censured by the Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners in 2007 over her handling of a sexual harassment complaint against the city’s public works director.
She also says Elam fought to hold onto the office of mayor even after 87 percent of the city’s voters cast ballots in favor of an ordinance barring city officials from holding other elected positions.
Elam defends her actions in both cases.
In the sexual harassment situation, Elam says that all she did was call the accuser to gather information about the complaint. She said the conversation had been blessed by the city attorney beforehand.
“Yes, I was censured,” she said, “but it was a very political vote on something where the city attorney (and) ethics officer said I hadn’t done anything improper.”

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