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Farragut GOP welcomes state candidates

One club member put the focus on Farragut as three District 7 state senate candidates spoke to Concord-Farragut Republican Club last week.

“What is your view on red-light cameras?” asked Dan Andrews during CFRC’s monthly meeting Thursday, May 6, in Seasons Cafe.

State Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-District 18), who joined fellow candidates Steve Hill and Ron Leadbetter, said he was 100 percent anti-camera.

“I’m not going to mince words. I don’t like it even a little bit,” Campfield said. “I’d get rid of all of them. I don’t think we need to be one nation under surveillance. ... It is a revenue generator, I don’t care what anybody says.

“When they realize the revenue doesn’t generate as much revenue as it was [expected], they go away,” he added. “It’s not about safety, it’s about revenue.

“For every argument that says it does help I can show you two that says it doesn’t.”

Leadbetter said he doesn’t believe red-light cameras “should be used to raise money.”

But this former 35-year attorney representing The University of Tennessee added, “Where there’s a dangerous intersection where the figures show that the red-light cameras can solve the problem; if that’s what the people in that district want to do, I have no problem with it.”

Hill, a businessman who led “marketing, public relations and government relations” work for St. Mary’s Health Systems while also a “liaison between Knox County Schools and state government,” agreed with Leadbetter.

Concerning “good bills” that don’t even make it to the floor for a vote, Campfield said, “A lot of times good ideas don’t make it. ... The Red-Light Camera Bill, we couldn’t even get a little bit of it up to the full Senate. And that’s Republican-controlled, unfortunately.”

Hill pointed out Tennessee “is in the hole about $2.2 billion” because of using “stimulus money” and “rainy day funds” for “reoccurring revenues ... and we have to make that up.”

To help avoid severe state deficits in the future, Hill recommended “maybe a Constitutional amendment that says, ‘We’re going to put a sunset clause in every program that we have.’

“We’ve got programs that we haven’t looked at in years ... we don’t know if they’re working for us or not,” he added.

Hill also recommended a Constitution amendment or “some rule” that state government “could not grow faster than the inflation rate,” which has happened, he added, “the last seven years.”

“Job development” through support of small businesses, Hill said, is one way “we can grow our way out of this mess,” adding small business accounts for 65 percent of Tennessee’s job market.

“Most importantly, help them create small business incubators,” Hill added about lending small businesses guidance as they start up.

Leadbetter said he’s “worked successfully with all three branches” of state government, adding he had a 94 percent success rate handling “all kinds of federal and state lawsuits for The University of Tennessee. … I settled three percent and lost three percent.”

His work also included “drafting legislation, I had one hundred percent success drafting legislation that got enacted into law,” Leadbetter added.

“It’s not enough to be for sound medical systems, it’s not good enough to be for education, it’s not good enough to be for a balanced budget.

“You have to be able to work with other people to get things done.”

Campfield suggested “roughly $8 million” in cuts, which includes “selling off airplanes, closing golf courses that aren’t making money.”

He suggested limiting Senate resolutions, “which cost about $400 apiece,” to “three or four per legislature per year.”

Campfield basically agreed with Hill’s state growth assessment, saying the number has gone from “$18 billion to about $27 billion in eight years.”

“The hard battle is going to be, are we going to do cuts? Are we going to increase taxes? Or are we going to rob the Rainy Day Fund? Those are our three options,” Campfield said.

“It would be very easy for us to cut out enough to balance our budget, very easy, if we’re serious about doing it,” he added.


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