Unemployment exceeds 10 percent in all six of the rural Middle Tennessee counties that now make up the 28th state Senate District, observes the Tennessean.
So it comes as no surprise that in the race to occupy the newly drawn state Senate seat, state Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, and former state Rep. Ty Cobb, D-Columbia, are squabbling over their job records as they traverse the rural district south of Nashville.
Cobb took partial credit for creating the Northfield Workforce, Development and Conference Center, a job re-training facility that was funded when he served Maury County for two years in the state Capitol.
Hensley, a 57-year-old Lewis County doctor, disputed Cobb’s role and said he’d done more to bring jobs to his three-county district, including 100 jobs in Lawrence County in the past year.
And despite calls by Cobb and Hensley for a clean campaign, both sides were willing to question how effectively their opponent could bring work to the region, which acquired the 28th after Republicans moved it east from Memphis earlier this year.
The beginning of a Chattanooga Times-Free Press article:
Tommie Brown reminds people that when Moses went up the mountain, he was older than 80.
Brown, a Democrat who’s been serving House District 28 in the Tennessee General Assembly for 20 years, is 78.
Her Aug. 2 Democratic primary opponent, JoAnne Favors, is 69. She served for eight years in House District 29 before the Republican-dominated Legislature this year drew both women into the 28th District.
Brown is a trailblazer for minority rights in Chattanooga battling what she sees as a public perception that she’s too old to represent the city effectively. She says she feels like she’s up against leaders of her own local party, whose ideals she says she’s fought for her whole life.
“The two of us should be able to run a race that would make everyone stop and think ‘This is how it should be done,'” Brown said Wednesday. “But I’m just baffled.”
Favors, who, while widowed with four children, became the first black woman elected to the Hamilton County Commission, acknowledges Brown’s influence in Chattanooga.
But Favors says she has to run. People begged her to, saying that the county needs her, she said.
Area Democrats are watching, most publicly saying little, knowing that at least one of their two highest-profile leaders will be staying home come January. The winner of the Aug. 2 primary will face Republican Johnny Horne in the November general election.
“Whoever wins and whoever loses, I think Democrats lose a significant voice in Nashville,” said former county Democratic Party Chairman Stuart James.
Redistricting by the Legislature’s new Republican majority has forced Democratic Reps. Tommie Brown and Joann Favors to run against one another in House District 28, anchored in Chattanooga.
They and other candidates debated at a recent event, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Favors said she doesn’t think of the race in terms of personal competition.
“I don’t consider myself running against, I consider myself running for the seat,” Favors said.
The two women took the same position on nearly all of the issues they debated. Both agreed that racial profiling exists and should be fought, that the current sales tax system is regressive, and that gun laws should be tightened but realistically, won’t be.
“It would take an act of God to get that [gun] legislation out,” Brown said. “I’m not going to introduce it, but I will vote for it.”
Neither said the redistricting at the state level was fair to African-Americans.
“We did not have any input in that,” Favors said. “I do feel that we were treated unfairly.”
Columbia Mayor Dean Dickey said he will run for the new 28th state Senate district seat created in Tennessee’s redistricting process, reports the Columbia Daily Herald.
Dickey joins Democrat Ty Cobb, a Columbia firefighter and former state representative, and Republican state Rep. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald as candidates for the 28th District seat, which will encompass Maury, Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Perry and Wayne counties.
Dickey said his familiarity with all those counties played a role in his decision to run for the seat. He grew up in Giles County, worked in all six counties as business services manager for the Tennessee Career Center and also owned and operated a Giant Foods supermarket in Lawrenceburg
. “So, it just seemed to be a natural (fit), and that’s what got my attention there,” he said. Dickey, who was elected mayor in November 2009, is also a former Columbia city councilman. As mayor, Dickey has made bringing more jobs to the city his main focus.
He said as state senator he would continue to work to improve employment numbers, as well as issues dealing with safety and roads.
“I can do that, and I can be successful,” he said.
News release from Ty Cobb campaign (slightly edited):
Columbia firefighter and former state Rep. Tyler “Ty” Cobb announced today he is seeking the new state Senate seat encompassing Maury, Lawrence, Lewis, Giles, Wayne and Perry counties.
“I’m excited to have this opportunity to ask hard-working folks like you to let me represent District 28 in the state Senate,” Cobb said. “I want to represent your best interests in the Legislature because I understand many of us are hurting financially as jobs have disappeared during one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression.
“Neighbors, family, friends and co-workers have urged me to serve in the Senate so we can get the Legislature back to doing what it’s supposed to do, which is govern with common sense and efficiency. We now have too many politicians in Nashville who are more worried about being big-shots than being advocates for the regular Joe.
“They fuss and fight up there in Nashville about things that have nothing to do with getting people back to work. Most of us worry about paying our bills, feeding our children and having a good life. It seems the Legislature, though, is more concerned about political pay-back and petty rivalries. I promise you, if elected, I will do everything in my power to bring good jobs back,” he said.
The Tennessee General Assembly last week created the new District 28 Senate seat after Census numbers forced the state to redraw new legislative districts. A mandatory Census count is done every 10 years to examine population growth. The general election will be held this fall on, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Cobb pointed to the Northfield Workforce and Development Conference Center in Spring Hill as an example of his ability to get results for the people of Middle Tennessee. The Northfield facility is used by local and state officials to train workers vital technical skills needed in today’s industries and businesses.
“Because I know how to work with people to get things done, I was able to get former Gov. Bredesen to allocate $5 million for Northfield,” said Cobb, who served in the state House as a fiscally conservative Democrat, as well as on the Maury County Commission.
“We were then able to use that money to buy the facility from General Motors and transform an otherwise empty building into a state-of-the-art technical training center. Northfield is also being used as a call center where hundreds of people work in technical services. It should be a prime example of what our communities can do with the resources we have available to us.
“We have a lot to offer top-notch companies and industries looking for communities in which to locate. But it takes leaders with vision, commitment and dedication to make sure we have a well-trained workforce and the infrastructure needed to support employers,” he explained.
TRG Customer Solutions, a leading global provider of customer management solutions and technologies, operates a 50,000-square-foot technical service center from the Northfield facility. Cobb also points to the vital role Columbia State Community College and Martin Methodist College play in keeping the region desirable for employers.
“Providing our children with second-to-none educational opportunities is vital,” said Cobb, whose parents are educators. “But it seems lately that the Legislature has a vendetta against our teachers. Just look at how the General Assembly tried to destroy the Teachers Education Association last year.
“The TEA’s primary purpose is to ensure educators have the resources they need to teach our children how to read, write and solve the kinds of problems everyone faces in an ever-changing world. I will support unequivocally our teachers and our children while serving in the state Senate, unlike some of our elected officials serving there now,” he added.