Mountain City to Memphis: Gubernatorial candidate promoting ‘rural roadmap’ with tractor tour

Published 8:42 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2017

“But as for me, I will always have hope,”
A new journey awaits Franklin, Tenn., native Bill Lee, but the passage from Psalms 71:14 continues to guide the cattle farmer’s passion for the state.
Wanting to make a difference, Lee continued his push to become the state’s next governor by kicking off his “Rural Roadtrip” tractor tour Tuesday from Farmers BBQ & Grill in Mountain City. Over the days, Lee will be en route to Memphis, making various stops across the state to hear concerns and issues from residents of Tennessee. Tuesday’s tour is the second by Lee, who recently concluded a 95-day tour visiting each county across the state.
“We’re doing this because our small towns and rural communities are hurting,” Lee told the Elizabethton Star Tuesday. “We are just a generation away from losing a way of life in small town Tennessee. If we don’t act decisively, we will lose it, and that’s something we can’t allow to happen.”
Lee added the tour would serve as a way to provide awareness to issues and insight into his “rural roadmap,” which contains different bullet points he would address if elected governor in 2018.
“We are a rural state with big cities. Our big cities are doing well, but the truth is rural Tennessee matters to every Tennesseean,” Lee said.
The businessman’s roadmap features a bevy of ideas to help strengthen communities across the state, including Northeast Tennessee.
“Our first goal is to address the dignity of work,” he said. “That includes putting a new emphasis on vocational, technical and agricultural education in our school systems. In our state, 4 out of 10 high school students will not go to a four-year school, and we want to make sure our future generation can achieve their dream working as a skilled tradesman.”
Lee added he would look at bulking up the “Drive to 55” and allow areas to take full advantage of resources available.
“We have many counties that don’t have access to a TCAT (Tennessee College of Applied Technology) facility,” he said. “That’s something we need to address. Along with college counselors, we need to utilize career counselors to students, beginning in seventh and eighth grades to show what choices are available. We need to show our students there are opportunities available, and we don’t leave them disenfranchised.”
Another goal includes strengthening entitlement programs, i.e. welfare and Medicare.
Lee added the second portion of the roadmap includes enhancing technological opportunities and innovations to help bolster the economy for healthcare and education.
With Carter and Johnson Counties, both within the First Tennessee Development District, classifying as “at-risk counties” in the state according to the Appalachian Regional Commission, bulking up the first two goals will be critical to improving the region.
“There is no reason we should be in this type of situation with how vibrant our state is,” Lee said. “20 percent of our counties are classified as distressed. People want a good job, a good school, and a safe neighborhood. That’s what I want to accomplish if I were elected governor. We will bring access to these areas and let people have the opportunity to experience the American Dream.”
Addressing safety falls is in line with Lee’s third goal, attacking the opioid epidemic.
“I will attack the opioid crisis with everything I have,” he said. “This is ravaging our community.”
Ideas include providing community-based rehabilitation services to individuals caught in addiction and providing transparency to the prescription process, Lee added.
Going back to the passage in Psalms, Lee added the fourth item on the roadmap includes the state going back to the values that “made this country and Tennessee what it is,”
“Faith, family and community,” Lee said. “We want to engage the faith community on the challenges we have. We want to encourage character education in our schools. It’s about taking the values and principles we hold and stressing them to the public to help our state.”
Hope is what drives the campaign, Lee said, and he added that hope is what will help Tennessee take the next steps to success.
“My message to Carter County is I have a great deal of hope for that county and this state,” Lee said. “We have a lot of challenges, we have a lot of issues, but I have a great deal of hope. Hope is not a strategy, but hope fuels that strategy that I have to make life better for people in Carter County, Johnson County and every county throughout Tennessee.”
For more information about the candidate, visit or check out the campaign sites on social media.

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