Bonnie Kate hosts Democratic Party meet-and-greet for Dean, Olsen

Published 8:24 am Thursday, May 24, 2018

Recognizing Northeast Tennessee’s impact on the state, Karl Dean and his wife, Anne Davis, were more than happy to make the trip to Elizabethton this week.

Dean, the former mayor of Nashville, is one of the Democratic Party candidates vying for the party’s nomination in the upcoming gubernatorial race and spent time Wednesday speaking with potential voters throughout the city and had the opportunity to field questions from the public during a meet-and-greet event held inside the Bonnie Kate Theater. Dean was joined by his wife, Anne Davis, and U.S. House of Representative candidate Marty Olsen. Over 70 people attended the event, was sponsored by the Carter County Democratic Women’s Club and the Tri-County Democrats.

“Northeast Tennessee has such a unique impact for the state,” Dean told the Elizabethton Star Tuesday afternoon. “Rural communities are an important part of what makes the state great. It’s such an asset because of the natural beauty it has to offer and it’s our job to focus on helping these communities grow and be there for the public.”

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An election cycle is nothing out of the ordinary for Dean. Serving for two terms as mayor of Nashville has seen it all, managing the city through a recession and flood to being part of the city’s economic boom.

“The experience serving as mayor of Nashville really is something I will rely on during this election,” he said. “A major part of our success was working together and knowing that it doesn’t start with just one person. We all need to work together to improve the economic well-being of the state.”

One of Dean’s focuses during his time as mayor was to bolster the education opportunities for Nashville. The former mayor was a proponent of increasing funding for the school system and invested over $600 million in the school system for infrastructure and other improvements.

According to Dean, some of his focuses, if elected, would be to increase teacher pay, expand after-school programs and invest in early childhood education.

Healthcare and jobs, much like education, are the three sticking points for Dean’s campaign. And in regards to Northeast Tennessee, those topics will be key issues to address moving forward.

“As a state, we need to focus more of our economic development on these communities,” Dean said when asked about Carter County’s declining population. “That will be more of my top priorities if elected. Quality of life, protecting the environment from all the natural resources available, education opportunities … these are all things that need to improve to make sure we keep people in our communities. There doesn’t need to be any forgotten people in Tennessee.”

Dean added that a focus on expanding broadband will prove to be vital in moving the state forward in all three aspects.

Another focus for the Dean campaign is opening up healthier lifestyles for residents across the state.

“We’ve got to focus on giving our children a healthier life,” Dean said.

Medicaid expansion was also topic brought up Tuesday evening.

“We have lost over $4 billion because of this,” Dean said about the failed Medicaid expansion. “We need to expand Medicaid. We need to make sure everyone in the state has access to healthcare. We have to make reasonable, common sense decisions.”

A theme shared by Dean, Olsen and Davis was promoting bipartisanship and working across all party lines. A recent Vanderbilt poll showed that Dean was leading among independent voters across the state.

To learn more about the candidates, be sure to visit the websites for Dean and Olsen, along with following their different social media accounts for other information.

During Tuesday’s event, Wilda and Edward Newman also officially announced a memorial fund will be established through the local party has a way to give back to the community. The fund is named after Eunice and Frank Carr and will be used as a way to raise funds for educational opportunities across Carter County and Elizabethton.