July 13, 2018 – Bill Lee, Republican candidate for governor of Tennessee, came to Sequatchie County Friday morning to meet with supporters. Hosted in an open-air pavilion at the Cookie Jar restaurant, the town hall meeting gave about 60 voters a chance to meet the Williamson County farmer and businessman.
Surrounded by mountains and green fields, Lee admired what he said was “the most beautiful town hall we've had since we started across Tennessee.” He and his wife and crew are traveling the state in an RV, for 100 town hall meetings before the Republican primary Aug. 2.
Lee said his plan for the state focuses on the three things people want most: A good job, good education for their kids, and a safe place to live.
“The six largest cities in Tennessee had a higher crime rate last year than the year before,” Lee said. “Ninety-five percent of the people in jail or prison are coming back out into our communities. Of those, 50 percent will commit another crime within two years. And they have children that are growing up with that example. Those inmates cost us $30,000 a year to house. That revolving door of crime and recidivism has got to be stopped.”
He described a successful prison ministry in which he participated called “Men of Valor” that takes men who are one year away from their release date and pairs them with Christian men who mentor and disciple them. They also help them with transitional housing and job placement when they get out.
Lee met with his inmate at 5:30 in the morning one time a week, every week until he got out of prison. Afterwards, they continued their friendship.
Helping convicts adjust to normal life keeps them from repeating the mistakes of the past, he explained.
With regard to education, Lee favors rebuilding vocational and technical programs in public schools, to give students who are not suited to college a path to a successful career. He also favors reviving agricultural education and school organizations like the Future Farmers of America (FFA).
Lee Company was three times named the best company to work for in Nashville, and Lee said his policy is to “create an environment for our employees to thrive.”
He would apply that policy to the education system, as well, he said, giving teachers what they need to thrive in the classroom.
One way to do that is to transfer control over the schools back to state and local governments, he said, and to eliminate programs like Common Core.
Lee owns and manages the family farm in Williamson County, where he raises Hereford cattle. He suffered a personal tragedy when his first wife died from injuries sustained in a horseback riding accident in 2000. He was left to raise his four children alone.
“The Lord walked me through that season in a powerful way,” he said. “He transformed my perspective. I was a single parent, raising my children, for eight years. I decided to get involved in things that matter.”
Once the numbness of his loss receded somewhat, he began taking his children on mission trips and getting involved in activities that helped others.
“My faith in Christ is the most important thing in my life,” he said. “People of faith have been made to feel increasingly unwelcome, especially in the public square, but faith and family and community are not old-fashioned values, they are critically important values.
“Government is not the answer. Oftentimes, government is the problem. We have the solutions to the challenges of our society. This is government by 'We The People.' The private sector, the faith community, is where the solution lies, doing the jobs that government cannot do.”
In answering questions from the audience, Lee pointed out that he has never run for office, nor served in a government job, but he runs a quarter-billion-dollar company and has served as chairman of the board for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.
“There is freedom in not being beholding to anybody,” he noted. People who have been in public office have financial donors with expectations and lobbyists with whom they have a relationship, “and you're beholding to them. I'm beholding to one thing – the people of Tennessee who elect me. The best leadership is servant leadership.”
Lee brought up the question of unsolicited text messages that recently were sent out by one of his opponents. Several in the audience had received them. The message implied that Lee is a closet liberal because he had contributed to Democrat Phil Bredesen's war chest in the past.
The money that was donated over 10 years ago was a small amount, given when Bredesen was governor of Tennessee, Lee said.
“At that time, I had contracts with the city and the state,” he said, describing it as a “business decision,” not a political decision.
“To get an unsolicited message like that says more about the one that sent it than the one it's about,” he added. “I'm not going to talk negative about my opponents. Negative, deceptive approaches are everything wrong with politics.”
July 6, 2018 – The prize-winning floats in the Dunlap 2018 Fourth of July Parade are:
Tennessee Tree Toppers – Most Unusual
Citizens Tri-County Bank – Best Business Float
Cowboy Church – Best Community Float
Vietnam Veterans Chapter 203 – Best Civic Float
All winners received a plaque presented by the Sequatchie County Rescue Squad, sponsor of the parade.