BY TOM YANCEY
Jeremy Faison, a pest-control company owner who is former chairman of the Cocke County Republican Party, is the Republican nominee for the state House of Representatives in the 11th District.
That seat is now held by Democrat Eddie Yokley, of Greene County.
Faison, 34, of 1009 Country Mountain Road, Cosby, and his wife, Miriam, have four children: Rebekah, 7; Regan, 5; Gage, 5; and Asher, 22 months.
He attended Clearwater Christian College in Florida for two years, and is owner of Rocky Top Pest Control.
Faison is worship leader at Crossroad Church in Newport, and is involved with the Douglas Cooperative (DCI).
This is his first run for public office.
Why are you seeking this office?
Faison answered that he is running to "be a part of recruiting industry and making Greene and Cocke counties attractive to prospective businesses."
He also said he would like to "be a part of the solution that takes our education from 42nd place. We can do better and become a competitor in a global economy."
Faison also said he would "like to be part of the solution that takes our education system in Tennessee out of the bottom ten for the country."
He added, "Cocke and Greene Counties' students have unique needs. As your representative, I want to involve the teachers who are actually 'in the trenches' every day. Their input is essential when we make decisions in Nashville."
Faison also said he desires "to see East Tennessee be an example of conservative values to bring honesty and integrity to the political forefront and to represent the interests of each person in the 11th district as a whole."
In your judgment, what are the two most important qualities or character traits a legislator should have? Please explain your answer.
Faison replied, "Honesty -- Speak the truth regardless of popular opinion; Leadership -- Ability to network and advance positive ideas from the community to the House of Representatives."
What will be your top two or three priorities if elected or re-elected this year?
"1. Recruiting industry. 2. Education. 3. Fighting back at 'big government.' "
Do you see illegal immigration as a problem in Tennessee? If so, what steps do you think the state should take to deal with it?
"Yes, illegal immigration is a problem in East Tennessee. Federal rules need to be enforced. The spending of our hard-earned tax dollars for public benefits to illegal immigrants needs to be stopped."
TennCare, Tennessee's subsitute for Medicaid, continues to be a heavy drain on the state's budget, and the "Obamacare" health-related legislation has now been enacted. What would you like to see happen regarding TennCare and Obamacare, especially in light of the state's budget problems?
"Able-bodied individuals should be responsible for their own health care.
"Strict guidelines are needed for any individual receiving these government subsidies."
Across the state and often within counties, significant differences in how teachers are paid for handling similar responsibilities remain a fact of life. For instance, there are often major differences in compensation between teacher pay-levels in urban areas vs. rural areas, and in teacher-pay levels between city and county school systems within a single county. Yet all public school teachers are asked to meet the same state and federal criteria, and their students take the same standardized tests. Should the legislature try to influence the differences in compensation?
"Yes, and as state representative I will make sure that Greene and Cocke county get their fair share of BEP (Basic Education Program) money so that we can be competitive with all schools in Tennessee."
Job cuts at Greene Valley Developmental Center were avoided in this year's state budget, but it was made clear by state officials that this funding will be carefully scrutinized next year. Do you foresee a continuing role for Greene Valley Developmental Center, at current staffing levels?
"Greene Valley needs to be left alone. The people who live there and have loved ones that live there depend greatly on the success of this establishment."
Are you generally pleased with the operation of the Tennessee Lottery and the Hope Scholarships and other educational efforts that the lottery funds, especially where state universities are concerned? What, if anything, would you like to see changed? Please explain your reasons.
"No. More money should go into the hands of the students and less into administrative cost and government procedures."
Currrently, enforcement of the state's Open Meetings Law, or "Sunshine Law," requires that, if there is believed to be a violation of the law, a private citizen or private-sector company or organization must file a lawsuit. Should a district attorney general also have the power to enforce the Open Meetings Law? Should a violation include a financial penalty? (There is no financial penalty for violations at this time.)
"Yes and Yes. The public is always served best with transparency."
What is your position on a state income tax? Do you feel that Tennessee's sales-tax-based financial budgeting system is working?
"As your state representative I will never vote for or allow any state income tax.
"No. Our sales tax is too high and puts pressure on the lower and middle class working people."
Do you support Tennessee's Right to Work law?
"Yes. As a small business owner, I understand how important this law is in helping us recruit new industry."
Do you support Tennessee's concealed-handgun-carry permit law?
"Yes. As your state representative, I will always be pro-gun and push for gun ownership."
What is your position concerning abortion? As a result of court rulings in Tennessee in recent years, the Tennessee Constitution is currently interpreted as invalidating almost all limitations on abortion. Would you support an amendment to the state constitution that would make the state constitution neutral on the subject of abortion, leaving it to the legislature and federal law to decide what Tennessee's abortion laws would be?
"As your state representative I will always fight for life. From the unborn to the elderly, life is precious and God-given."
What is your position concerning traditional marriage and same-sex marriage?
"Marriage is between a man and a woman and should stay that way."
"As your state representative, I promise to always be available to you and your concerns. I will be proud to represent you and our great area of East Tennessee in Nashville.
"If you would like any more information about my beliefs or ideas you can reach me through Facebook or at http://www.jeremyfaison.com."