Gubernatorial candidates talk on local control versus legislature

Excerpt from the Times-Free Press report on a gubernatorial candidate forum Thursday:

In response to a question about cities’ and towns’ complaints about the General Assembly’s propensity to wade into their operations on issues like guns in public parks, removal of Confederate statues and education, (Democrat Craig) Fitzhugh said, “I believe in local control” and put the blame on the Republican-run Legislature.

“It seemed to me that for many years, the Republican view was the best government was at the local level, but here recently at the Legislature, the majority party has taken it upon themselves to sort of get into cities’ business and counties’ business on various things. I think they had it right the first time.”

(Democrat Karl) Dean took a more nuanced view. Calling the education issue “complicated,” Dean noted the state is a major funder of education and has numerous laws and regulations. The general rule, he said, is that local government “should follow the laws and rules of the state when it comes to education.”

While Nashville mayor, Dean, a charter school supporter, backed Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s move to withhold $3.4 million from Metro Nashville Public Schools following its rejection of a charter school proposal.

But Dean was more critical over state lawmakers wading into the guns-in-parks issue, saying while he backs the First Amendment, the original law left the issue to decisions by local governments.

That flexibility was later taken away. Dean said that while lawmakers “probably” had the ability to do that, “the issue there to me is judgment, reason and being practical. Why take that away? It’s always a balance.”

(Republican Rndy) Boyd later said as governor that his first question on such issues will be “Can the local community make this decision for themselves? If they can, then they should.” Calling it “very ironic” that some local governments have hired lobbyists to press their cases at the state Capitol, Boyd said as governor he would create a deputy to be the “eyes and ears of local government.”

(Republican Kay) White, a self-described “Christian Constitutional conservative” participating in her first forum, alluded to the number of wealthy candidates running in the GOP primary, noting, “an election can be won without millions of dollars.”

She declared that if she were a multi-millionaire, she would “spend millions helping others.”

In her campaign disclosure on Tuesday, White reported she had $458.08 in her campaign account.

Both Boyd, Lee and two GOP hopefuls absent from the debate, state House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, and U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., have all put at least $1 million of their own money into the contest.

…The event was sponsored by the Tennessee Press Association, along with various watchdog or public policy groups from across the political spectrum, including the Beacon Center, a free-market think tank, and the American Civil Liberties Union Tennessee.

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