Gov. Bill Lee has some big goals as well as challenges

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Republican political newcomer Bill Lee on Saturday took the oath of office as the 50th governor of Tennessee, vowing to not solely look to government as the solution to the state’s most pressing challenges.
“As honored as I am to be your next governor, no governor will solve the problems — in fact, no government will solve the greatest problems that we face,” Lee said. “Government is not the answer to our challenges.”
Lee, a Franklin-based businessman, defeated former Democratic Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in November. It was the first time Lee had ever run for political office.
During the primary, Lee was considered the underdog. While the presumed front-runners were launching attack ads against each other, Lee visited 95 counties in 95 days and held 100 town halls.
Gov. Lee has placed as his priorities: transportation, education, recruiting business, and criminal justice reform.
As far as the Tennessee Department of Transportation is concerned, Lee previously has said the department should play a role in leading a regional dialogue about traffic and mobility, but that counties must decide what’s best for themselves.
Lee is a big believer in vocational education, and it was a pillar of his pitch to voters. “We have not created the pathways for success through skilled trades, and I have a deep belief we ought to change the public school system to create those pathways, especially for the four out of 10 kids in our state that don’t go to college,” Lee said during his campaign.
As for recruiting business, Lee has often said he would prefer Tennessee focus its recruitment and incentive efforts throughout the state, rather than in Tennessee’s main urban areas.
“We do a lot to recruit out-of-state business, but could do more to support growth and retention of businesses already here. I’d also like to reduce barriers to entry and see Tennessee become more welcoming to firms in innovating, emerging industries.”
Another pillar of Lee’s campaign is his support for some criminal justice reform. Lee is an ardent supporter of Men of Valor, which helps integrate former prisoners into society.
Gov. Bill Lee has experienced success as a Tennessee cattle farmer and businessman, but he has also known his share of personal tragedy and adversity, relating to the accidental death of his first wife. He is a man raised in a hardworking farm family with values and principles that have sustained and undergirded his faith.
Bill Lee has proven he can win. We hope that he will look beyond the large urban areas of Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga and at small rural areas like Elizabethton, Mountain City, and Erwin and see their potential for growth and will lend the support these small towns need to move them forward.
The new governor has much to learn. However, the outsider’s perspective he brings to the job could prove invaluable. His enthusiasm for vocational, technical, and agricultural education is an intriguing example. So, too, is his intent to partner with nonprofit and faith-based groups to address issues of addiction, crime and recidivism.
With his conservative credentials, lack of political obligations and strong spirit of compassion, Lee is well positioned to work with the GOP legislature to find creative ways to cut through the daunting knots that have constrained progress on some serious problems, including access to health care, limited rural and inner-city opportunity and the achievement gap in education.
With his personal success and dynamic campaign, Bill Lee has shown he has the potential to be an inspiring Tennessee governor. We’re on his side and will be there to cheer him on. But, should he forget Carter County and Elizabethton voters, we’ll remind him of that, too.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox