'A Lot Of Variables,'
Went Into Decision
BY TOM YANCEY
State Rep. Eddie Yokley said Friday that he had decided to stay in the state House of Representatives, where he has served for seven years, rather than make a bid for the 1st District state Senate seat now held by Republican Steve Southerland.
Yokley said he discussed what he called "a hard decision" with local party officials, and with Sen. Southerland, and said he believes that conversation was productive.
As a result of that frank, hour-long discussion with Southerland, Yokley said he believes they reached an understanding that will help the areas that they both serve in Greene and Cocke counties.
"If his (Southerland's) words are good, and I think they are, were going to be able to work together better next year, if we're both in the legislature," Yokley said.
Yokley said he prayed about the choice, and though he believes he could have had a good chance of winning the senate race, it would have involved campaigning in two counties, Hamblen and Unicoi, where he is not well known, as well as the two counties he now serves.
The decision had to consider "a lot of variables," Yokley said, but ultimately, "I feel like I can serve my constituents best, with my experience and the situation I've worked myself into in the House right now," he said.
Yokley said he is not taking the 11th District race for granted either, since it had been a Republican-leaning one for so long before he was elected in 2002.
In a prepared statement dated Jan. 30, Yokley stated, "After talking with my family, my friends, my fellow colleagues and most importantly, my constituents in Cocke and Greene counties, I am announcing today my intent to seek re-election as the state representative for the 11th District."
In a press release, Yokley said that while he believes he has accomplished a great deal in his four terms in the House, "I feel like there is still important work to be done."
Yokley said it has been an honor to serve the citizens of Greene and Cocke counties, "and it is my hope that they will continue to give me the honor of serving them in the future."
Earlier this month, Yokley had picked up paperwork needed to qualify as a candiate in both the House and Senate races.
Greene County Administrator of Elections Donna Burgner said then that, although candidates can pick up as many blank petitions as they like, candidates can only run in one race on the same ballot.
The state primary election on Aug. 5 will include both the house and senate.
Yokley now serves as chairman of the House Elections Subcommittee, and is a member of the Commerce Committee and the State & Local Government Committee.
Yokley was first elected in 2002, after serving three terms as Greene County Assessor of Property.
He became the first Democrat to represent Cocke County since the Civil War when he defeated longtime incumbent legislator Ronnie Davis, who was then under federal indictment and later convicted of charges that included influence peddling and money laundering.
Yokley said he believes his support for fiscal responsibility, conservation and family values has been shown by his support for SJR127, a pro-life bill, his work with Gov. Phil Bredesen to pass balanced budgets each year, and his co-sponsorship of a bill to improve cleanup initiatives for the Pigeon River, which flows through Cocke County.
"Last year, Tennessee faced a financial crisis that had not been seen since the Great Depression, and even with such gloomy fiscal news, we in the legislature were able to work together, in a bipartisan manner, to pass a state budget without raising taxes or having to make extreme job cuts," Yokley said.