Metro Pulse sent the following questionnaire to the three Republican candidates for the state Senate 6th District. Candidates' responses have not been edited in any way.
VICTORIA DEFREESE, candidate for state Senate 6th District
1.) All three Republican candidates for the 6th District seat describe themselves as conservatives. Please define what that word means to you. In what ways are you "a conservative"?
I am the ONLY candidate in this race who will truly support individuals against eminent domain abuse, is in 100% support of second amendment rights and will stand against red light cameras.
A conservative is a person who approaches the future armed with the lessons of experience. That is, throughout history, human beings have experimented with many ideas, faiths, and values--some of which have stood the test of time to form the basis of modern society, and some of
which proved foolhardy or even disastrous for that portion of humanity who tried them. Those ideals that persist--representative government, an educated electorate, the rule of law, separation of powers, individual rights, free markets, and private property--do so because they are sound. They consequently form the basis of how we should go forward and solve the problems we confront today, rather than abandoning these bedrock principles for the false doctrines preached by utopians and socialists.
More specifically, I agree as a conservative with George Washington that "Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society." And I also agree with Teddy Roosevelt that education is paramount, and that the home, the school, and the church all play separate yet critical roles in a child's education. I would define myself as a social conservative who would favor social policies aligned with Judeo-Christian beliefs.
I also would define myself as a fiscal conservative who has an eye for social mobility through free trade, deregulation of the economy, and lower taxes. Government intervention in the marketplace can create corruption and can result in the government setting up unfair advantages to certain groups. All people should be treated as equals.
2.) Name 3 political leaders past or present other than Ronald Reagan whom you consider conservative role models, in terms of their beliefs and how they apply them in government.
I don't believe there is any perfect political leader past nor present but it is nonetheless productive to study historical figures and emulate what is worthwhile about them and try to avoid their flaws. With that in mind, I believe that these three political leaders have demonstrated conservative leadership on some key issues.
On the contemporary scene, I liked some of what Mike Huckabee did in Arkansas. He was a dynamic conservative leader who first entered the political stage as one holding to a Christian world view. In the area of education, he paved the way to get back to basics with a focus on reading and math in grades K-4 in a "Smart Start" program in Arkansas. He pushed for dollars collected from Arkanas' tobacco settlement to be used for the state's health care system rather than going into the general fund. I also appreciated his personal commitment to healthier living and the program "Healthy Arkansas" launched to promote prevention and wellness.
Going back a bit, George Deukmejian served as California's Governor in the 1980s. He faced a severe recession as we do today, yet pared $1.8 billion from the budget and doubled California's general fund without increasing taxes.
My third choice is Dwight Eisenhower, who most remember as commander of Allied forces in Europe at D-Day. As President; however, Eisenhower embodied conservative principles and achieved a budget surplus three different times. Many consider America's relative affluence in the world to have been at its zenith during the 1950s under Eisenhower's leadership. I also try to remember Eisenhower's admonition that "it is amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit for it."
3.) Despite lots of campaign talk about job creation, Tennessee's unemployment rate has risen since the new Legislature took office this year. Name three specific things the state Legislature can or should do next year to help put Tennesseans back to work.
If we could find a way to get rid of OBAMA that would be a great start. Short of that I think Tennessee needs to realize that government is not the solution to employment problems. Government is closer to being the problem. We need to look for ways to get rid of the issues that slow investment in new business. Getting rid of the Tennessee's hall income tax (a tax on business investment dividends) would be a good start.
Two, I think government must refrain from acting as investor and employer. We give out incentives to new employers at the cost of our current employers who are just hanging on by their finger tips. Our small businesses can't afford to pay for someone Else's start up pet project.
Third, I am sort of split. While most states lost jobs, Texas grew them after they passed loser pays tort reform. In fact, over the last few years 1/3 of the new jobs in the nation came from Texas so they are a model. That or we may need some more illegal immigration reform. Tennesseans need those jobs as much or more then illegals do.
4.) Tennessee House Bill 600 generated a lot of controversy earlier this year, with many major employers—including Knoxville-based Scripps Networks—saying it will hurt their recruitment and retention of top employees. Would you have voted for the bill? Why or why not? Would you vote for its repeal?
Although some employers may have opposed the bill, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce supported it. The argument that it would hurt recruitment or harm retention doesn't on the face of it make any sense because an individual employer is free to set any tighter standards he or she wishes in their own work place regarding these issues. In fact, an employer would presumably have an advantage in recruiting and retention over its competitors if it adopted workplace standards more in tune with a job candidate's preferences than those who did not. Isn't it odd that Scripps Network would argue it needs the government to force it to adopt a policy it's free to do so on its own at any time?
I would have voted for the bill to keep government regulations of the workplace consistent throughout the state and would not vote for its repeal.
5.) If the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, will you vote to make abortion illegal in Tennessee? If yes, does that mean that women who have abortions, or doctors who perform them, should be charged as criminals? What would be an appropriate jail sentence for a 20-year-old University of Tennessee student who has an abortion?
Yes, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, then I would vote to make abortion illegal in Tennessee. It's important that the stated position of government be on the side of the unborn and life and advocating for that, rather than discuss the hypothetical prosecution of a hypothetical student. As with illegal drugs, law enforcement efforts should focus on the abortion provider. The person who had the procedure done or done to them would be the victim not the criminal.
6.) Many observers (including those of us at Metro Pulse) believe the state Legislature this year spent a lot of time fighting over political wedge issues like collective bargaining and Stacey Campfield's "Don't Say Gay" bill, which are likely to have little actual effect on the economy or lives of Tennesseans. Do you agree, or do you agree with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey that this was a successful and productive legislative session? If so, can you name its major accomplishments? Would you hope that next year's session is a lot like this one, or different? If different, how?
I believe that education, business de-regulation, and employment are key issues to the people of Tennessee. A major reason I'm running for office is the public's all-too-accurate perception that government is broken and ineffectual. Wedge issues are easy, but it's not only the government's fault that so much time is spent on them. You in the media like to cover them for the same reason. The nuts and bolts of how government actually works and accomplishes the goals of its constituents are not always as newsworthy. For example, this last year tort reform passed, common sense regulation was put on red light cameras, Planned Parenthood was defunded, Government spending was cut overall with no new taxes, the hall income tax was reduced, E Verify will help with the illegal immigration problem. Despite these accomplishments, I hope the next session will be more productive. Specifically, I would like to implement a 5 second yellow light at intersections where red light cameras will be used. Finally, I believe that too often we measure the accomplishments of government by how many new laws it passes and how much money it spends.
7.) Tennessee is contending with two drug epidemics right now: methamphetamine and abuse of prescription opiates like oxycontin and methadone. What can or should the state government do in terms of prevention, interdiction, or treatment in those two specific cases?
The legislature just passed two bills, one will cut down on the pill mills and I think that is a great start that needs to be given a chance to go into effect. The other puts tracking on sudafed sales on line and interconnects the sellers. We need to see how that does. If it fails, the next step is making people get prescriptions for sudafed. I don't know if we need to go there yet.
8.) Can you read, write, or speak any language other than English? (Even partial proficiency counts, but please indicate your level of ability.)
I read/write/speak limited Spanish as I have taken two years High School Spanish and one year college level Spanish. In addition, I can read, write, and speak English proficiently. I will also admit my life of education has not hurt me none: I can read the writing on the wall.
9.) People often talk about Tennessee as a "low tax" state, but it actually has the highest sales tax rate in America. Given that sales taxes are regressive—they hurt poor people more than the affluent—do you see that as a problem? Are there any items or categories you would add to the list of things exempt from the sales tax?
Sales tax is hard to avoid and simple to calculate and collect, but I would like to be able to exempt whole or natural, non processed store bought foods. . Also, Tennessee as a state draws a lot of tourism. The sales tax benefits residents by shifting some of our tax burden to visitors.
10.) Coal-industry supporters have so far blocked legislative action against mountaintop removal mining in Tennessee. Would you vote to ban the practice here? Why or why not?
No, I would not vote to ban mountaintop removal mining in Tennessee. I support property rights, and we need the jobs and energy. Cheap energy is fundamental to economic growth and rising standards of living. We cannot keep restricting our capacity to produce energy without destroying jobs and the families that depend on them. The new regulations also make coal miners fix more then they clear so it really helps the environment more then it hurts.