BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Republican Women's Club on Monday heard from Republican candidates in the Aug. 2 primary for the 5th District seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
The club's president, Crystal Goan Hawk, assured those present that any of the four candidates has the potential to defeat the Democratic Party's primary candidate, Eddie Yokely, who previously served as the 11th District state representative.
"Greene County is a Republican county," she said, saying that the party must simply stand behind the winning Republican primary candidate.
Hawk is the wife of state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, who is running for re-election.
Also running for the office are Greeneville attorneys Duncan Cave and Bradley Mercer, and County Commissioner Ted Hensley.
Each candidate had 10 minutes to speak and was later given the opportunity to answer how he is working to become a "great man."
Hensley, the first to speak, emphasized the importance of adding local industry and building school system involvement with local industries.
He said that he sees a need for an adult education center in Greene County and is interested in the possibilities of building a new industrial park for small-aircraft-related industries.
"We've got a lot of holes in our pocket to fill," he said. "Working together, I believe we can fix some of these and have a better future for our future generations."
As for how he is working to become a "great man," Hensley recalled his mother's aspirations for his life before her death during his late teens.
He said he hopes to meet her expectations in order to become the great man she envisioned him to be.
Next, Duncan Cave spoke of his belief in freedom of choice and limited government.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with having a weak state government," he said, recalling Philips Consumer Electronics Co.'s small New York office that ran numerous large facilities.
Instead, he said he supports a government that is local and county-based.
A constitutional amendment that clarifies the absolute right for individuals to carry arms is also needed, Cave added.
Finally, in order to become a "great man," he said he is in attendance at his church every Sunday, learning from his seniors.
Bradley Mercer, who is 29, began his address by assuring the audience that, despite being the youngest candidate running for the office, he is an appropriate age.
He emphasized the need to work with educators to improve the local school systems.
Mercer discussed details of his time spent in Nashville, during which he interned for state Sen. Steve Southerland, R-1st, of Morristown, and later studied the making of legislation.
"I wanted to gain an understanding of the legal process because legislators pass the law, the courts interpret the law, and lawyers are left to argue how the law ought to be interpreted," he said.
Finally, the local attorney said he believes he is soon to be on his way to becoming a "great man" through his upcoming marriage.
State Rep. David Hawk was the last to address the club, stating that he has served in Nashville for 10 years and is proud of what has been accomplished in that time.
"I'm looking forward to doing more," he said. "I wasn't here to hear the blessing ... but the old saying goes that the Lord's promised us that he'll never place more upon us than we can endure.
"I have to admit, there's been a few days lately here that I wish the Good Lord didn't have so much faith in my ability to carry a burden."
Nonetheless, he said he is prepared for the hard work ahead and is the same person that the people of Greene County elected for the last five elections.
He made no direct reference to a domestic assault charge filed March 18 in connection with an alleged incident involving his wife, Crystal Goan Hawk.
Rep. Hawk, who is scheduled to appear July 16 in General Sessions Court, maintains his innocence in the matter.
He said he will continue to work on lowering taxes, improving efficiency and making sure veterans are being treated fairly and with honor.
Despite being a "shy and extremely private person," Hawk said he puts himself into the public limelight to make the world a better place for the next generation.
Although one may have the ambition to become a "great man," he later added, it is as unachievable as perfection. Instead, he pointed to Jesus Christ as the only great, perfect man that has ever walked the earth.
The club members thanked each of the candidates and announced that the next meeting on July 9 will feature the Republican candidates for the 11th District State House of Representatives.
During the luncheon, a large cake in red, white and blue and flanked by elephants celebrated the upcoming retirement of Property Assessor Ralph Bowers and Circuit Court Clerk Gail Davis Jeffers.
Both thanked the club for their support and promised their continued dedication to the Republican Party.