Gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee makes a stop in Elizabethton to hear from voters

Published 8:03 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018

As part of his Faith in Tennessee Tour, gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee visited Elizabethton on Thursday to meet with local leaders, faith-based organizations, and voters.

Lee is crossing the state to meet with leaders of faith-based community service groups to hear from them the issues the state is facing and, if elected, he hopes to work in partnership with those agencies to begin addressing those problems that plague Tennessee.

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“I am a guy who believes that government is really not the answer to some of the deepest issues in the state,” Lee said, adding government has the key to tackling some problems but not all of them. “We have a large faith-based and non-profit infrastructure in this state that is underutilized and is more effective in dealing with these issues. We need to engage and utilize our churches and non-profits in a better way.”

“We are a state that has a deep tradition of faith, family, and community,” he continued. “It just makes sense we engage those three in a greater way.”

Lee and his wife, Maria, live in Franklin on his family’s farm and Lee runs the company which his grandfather founded in 1944. Lee Company, the largest mechanical contractor in the state, employs more than 1,200 individuals.

Before joining the governor’s race this year, Lee has never been involved in politics or sought public office.

“I’ve never been a politician, but I think maybe that’s what we need now,” Lee told voters who turned out to a meet and greet session at the Crazy Creek Co-Op in downtown Thursday afternoon. “I really believe when our founding fathers framed this government of ‘We the People’ they envisioned regular people from the private sector engaging in the political arena instead of a bureaucracy, and I think we’ve gotten away from that.”

Before deciding to throw his hat in the race, Lee said he and his family prayed about the decision, asking for God’s guidance.

Part of that guidance, Lee is taking from the Bible verse Psalm 71:14, which he has lettered on the side of his tour bus: “As for me, I will always have hope.”

That message of hope is something Lee said he firmly believes in.

“I believe there is great hope for this state,” Lee said.  “There is great hope for Tennessee to not only be a better place to live but to lead the nation.”

Across the state, Lee said residents are dealing with the same major issues.

“Everywhere that I have traveled, no matter where you live in Tennessee, people want a good job, a good school for their kids, and a safe neighborhood,” Lee said. “Our rural communities, for example, are really struggling. I believe we are at risk of losing a way of life in rural Tennessee and small towns.”

To help address those issues, Lee has a plan he is calling his “Roadmap for Rural Tennessee.” The plan highlights four points he feels need to be addressed and that will become his focus if elected.

•Promote the dignity of work and economic independence. Invest early in vocational, technical, and agricultural education and knock down barriers to work.

• Support innovation and technology to improve economic growth, healthcare access, and educational opportunities. Reduce the tax burden for small businesses and bring more healthcare options to our rural communities.

• Attack the epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction. Increase penalties for drug traffickers, and put non-violent addicts on a path to wellness.

• Renew our state’s commitment to faith, community, and family. Strengthen civic and character education in our schools, and support strong families in our communities.

For more information on the candidate, visit his website at