Tim Barnes, candidate for State Senate District 22, set the pace for his campaign with a press conference held today at his Franklin Street office, discussing several of the issues of concern to “the people of Clarksville.”
Barnes, whose candidacy seemingly ended with his primary election 19-vote loss to incumbent Senator Rosalind Kurita, challenged that vote, citing alleged improprieties in the election process; the Tennessee Democratic Executive Committee subsequently overturned that primary election race and turned the Kurita/Barnes race over to the executive committees in the three District 22 counties: Montgomery, Houston and Cheatham.
On Friday, September 19, Barnes briefly reviewed the process that led to his reclaiming the Democratic nod, and said that the healing of the party rift had begun. In his statement, Barnes pledged to develop a “cooperative” spirit with other legislators, to work at attracting quality high paying jobs to the area, to work at expanding health care options for the people of Tennessee, and to work at managing the state budget with an intent to keep taxes low while “providing necessary services.”
“It is time to turn our attention to the needs of the people,” Barnes said. “I am not here to work for me, I am here to work for the people of Clarksville and all of District 22. The issue now is ‘What can I do for the people of the 22nd Distict?'”
Surrounded by his family, Barnes outlined several priorities he would pursue if elected:
- Price gouging related to gas prices. Barnes said the current laws which impose a $1,000 fine for price gouging “is an insufficient deterrent” to that practice. He advocates not just raising the fines to a more financially painful level but changing the crime from a Class B to a Class A misdemeanor, with a much heavier overall penalty.
- The HOPE Scholarship. Barnes would re-activate discussion of the HOPE scholarship with the intent of dropping the qualifying grade to a 2.75, a move that would open the opportunity of a college education to more students. He cited the need for an educated workforce, and the desire of more families to afford a college education. The 2.75 would reflect a high school student’s cumulative four-year average and would the grade standard for retention of that scholarship through each of the four years of undergraduate study. Currently the qualifying grade is a 3.0.
- Pro-life or Pro-choice. Barnes was candid about the fact that his law practice is heavily vested in adoption and family law, and admitted that particularly “some forms of abortion” (i.e. partial birth abortion) is something he does not personally favor. Personally, “I recognize that it is the woman’s right to choose.” The Supreme Court ruled that this decision rests solely with the woman, and “I respect that right.” He personally falls on the side of life, but said candidly that this issue of choice is not one to be made at the state level by state legislators. Barnes cited the Supreme Court as the arbiter and said that “choice” was the law of the land, and that law had to be respected. He indicated he would like to work for feasible alternatives to abortion, not the least of which is adoption, but added that “choice” is the law and the right of each individual woman.
- A Living Wage. Barnes voiced deep concern for the average family’s economic survival, stating that he wants the Tennessee wage scale tied to the federal minimum wage and a “living wage” that would offer more than a subsistence level of living for families. It’s a move that would benefit many, including single parent families, Barnes said.
- Paid Sick Leave that would allow an individual to not be penalized when providing care for a sick child, spouse or parent. “Tennessee lags behind the nation” in that area; the lack of this type of benefit negatively impacts employee morale.
As he wrapped up his statement on Friday, Barnes noted that the Senate District 22 seat “belongs to the people.”