Hispanic Republican commissioner seeks to succeed Democratic Rep. Pitts

Tommy Vallejos, a Montgomery County commissioner and Clarksville pastor, has declared as a Republican candidate for the House District 67 seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Joe Pitts, reports the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle.

“Joe Pitts has done a great job, but I feel I can add to all that he’s done,” Vallejos said. “Everyone’s saying, ‘But there’s never been a Hispanic state representative before,’ but guess what, there’s never been a Hispanic county commissioner before, so what’s new?”

Many expected Vallejos to go for the state Senate seat (to be vacated by Sen. MarK Green, who is running for the 7th Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn), which will involve a special election and might have pitted him against fellow Republican state Rep. Jay Reedy.

“For me, this is better suited,” Vallejos said. The state Senate seat involves a larger region — all of Montgomery County, plus Stewart and Houston counties. District 67 is confined to most of the Clarksville city limits.

“I want to take this step first,” he said.

A retiree of the U.S. Army, where he served for over 21 years and was awarded the Bronze Star, Vallejos is associate pastor at Faith Outreach Church in Clarksville.

…Vallejos, originally from New Mexico, has a storied history. A former gang member, with the neck tattoos to show for it, he lost two brothers and his stepfather to gang violence, and his sister and two brothers were sent to prison for murder.

He himself previously sold and used drugs. “I’ve seen how God restored my family and restored my life, so I hold to the (political) party that reflects that.”

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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