Skip to content

Working for You: January 2022

I sincerely appreciate everyone who supported our fundraiser on January 10th. Thanks to all of you, as well as Brandi Bruns and the folks at Craft Brewed, it was our most successful event since 2014. Thank you!

Let’s start with some good news this week about the Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness Wildlife Management Area. As I stated in a previous newsletter, state Sen. Heidi Campbell and I have been working to save 2000+ acres of hardwoods on this White County property since the TWRA’s plan to clearcut the area was first brought to our attention. After outdoor enthusiasts, White County officials and legislators across the aisle reached out to us for assistance, we got to work. Fortunately, we were able to help form a bipartisan coalition of legislators who share some of our concerns about the TWRA’s proposal. Within 24 hours of delivering a letter sharing our concerns and support for legal efforts to halt the proposal, the TWRA announced it would postpone its proposed clearcutting plans. The battle is far from over to save this significant part of our state’s natural beauty, so we will continue our bipartisan efforts and keep you updated.

I rose on the House floor Thursday morning to honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day and ask my colleagues to recognize how recent legislation has facilitated hate and the continued discrimination of Tennessee families. Recently, a Jewish couple was denied the opportunity to provide a child a loving home via adoption, and Maus was officially removed from public school libraries in McMinn County. Several years ago, my resolution to denounce neo-Nazis and anti-Semitism was defeated on multiple occasions. Acts of violence continue and anti-Semitism is on the rise nationwide. We are heading down a dangerous path, and we all have a duty to speak up and take action. My entire floor statement can be viewed here (remarks begin at 00:25:30 mark). 
Having spent so much time working on redistricting in recent months, work on my legislative package got delayed a bit. Nevertheless, I have crafted a package that is once again heavily focused on public education, mental health care, infrastructure, public safety, and voting rights. I will share more on my legislation in the coming weeks. The bill-filing deadline is February 2nd.

If you have driven around Nashville in recent weeks, it will not surprise you that potholes have earned their own headline this week. Many of us have shared our concerns with TDOT, and TDOT is now doing all that it can to fill in potholes on state roads and highways with cold mix. If you see our hard-working state employees on the roadway, please slow down and move over to give them safe space to work. 

The redistricting bills are now awaiting Gov. Bill Lee’s signature. I voted “NO” on all three bills. It would be an understatement to say that the people of Nashville took it on the chin in these redistricting bills. I hope legal challenges to the various plans will result in an adequate remedy for the benefit of voters. Once the governor signs the legislation, and if they are upheld in the courts, the new congressional and state legislative districts will go into effect for the 2022 election cycle. This means all candidates for any of those offices, including me, will be campaigning this year to serve the newly drawn districts. We incumbents will continue to represent the districts as currently drawn until after the 2022 general election.

Tennessee House
The district I am privileged to currently represent, House District 55, will change drastically. I recently posted a comparison of the current District 55 and the future District 55 on my social media pages. (D55 is yellow in both images below). Regardless of district lines, if re-elected, I will continue to work to represent the best interests of all Nashville families and help anyone who contacts me for assistance. I will also continue to promote and advocate for the multiple infrastructure projects I initiated and on which I have worked in West Nashville, such as the widening of Charlotte Avenue, improving the safety of the Highway 70/100 split, and continuing improvements to I-440 and I-40 West. It is an honor to represent the families and historic neighborhoods of West Nashville, and I hope to be able to utilize all that I have learned working with you for the benefit of all Davidson Count residents in the years ahead.
No one will win from the gerrymandering of the Fifth Congressional District and the division of Davidson County into three separate congressional districts. Black and brown communities were outright targeted and will suffer adverse consequences as a direct result. Our city and region will also lose 32 years of seniority and institutional knowledge in the U.S. House in the form of Jim Cooper. 

Strategic Miscues
Whether the GOP supermajority realized it or not, their redistricting scheme to win a single congressional seat may not have only violated the law but also the trust of rural voters. The latter violation should not be overlooked, because the GOP just undermined its decades-old “rural vs. urban” political strategy. The strategy is, in large part, built on a false narrative portraying legislators who represent cities as out of touch with rural interests and values and classifying one party as urban and the other as rural. Through this messaging, the GOP has fueled the false notion that a legislator cannot possibly represent the interests and values of both rural and urban communities.

Oddly, the GOP just gerrymandered four of nine congressional districts in such a way that those districts’ representatives will be expected to do just that. So if the GOP’s narrative is to be believed, they just intentionally created a situation for a majority of Tennessee families in which they expect someone to always lose – rural or urban communities – and signaled that they are okay with it. If this was not their intention, they are effectively conceding that there is no merit to the core of their strategy and that they’ve purposefully misled Tennesseans for decades simply for political gain.

Having both grown up on a farm in rural Tennessee and lived in and represented Nashville in the state legislature, I am uniquely aware that rural and urban Tennesseans have far more in common than the GOP would have voters believe. A lot of opportunities for compromise and progress have been missed because of unnecessary divisiveness. 

STAYING IN TOUCHPlease join the conversation by following me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. I post a weekly legislative wrap-up video on Instragram at the end of every week. My latest “State of Things” video is here



Scroll To Top