If you run for office, you’re essentially applying for a job. And voters are your hiring managers. So if you want the job and you believe you’ve got what it takes to do it well, why would you skip the interview?
That’s why when I decided to run to be the next State Representative for Tennessee’s 30th State House District, I committed to attending as many forums and debates as possible. Typically, these are hosted by community leaders, civic institutions, and neighborhood associations. It’s an important part of the electoral process and attending is a clear sign that you respect your voters enough to show up and talk about the issues.
Since I announced my campaign, we’ve discussed a diverse range of important issues: whether or not we should raise the minimum wage, how to properly fund our local schools and pay teachers what they deserve, and where I stand on expanding access to TennCare to over 280,000 working families across Tennessee. Who the next State Representative is for Tennessee’s 30th State House District is going to have an important say on these issues—and many more.
Esther Helton, my opponent, and I have real differences on those issues and very different visions for our state. That’s why it is so important that voters have an opportunity to ask us questions and hear those ideas discussed in a neutral and fair space. Campaigns shouldn’t just be a handful of managed meet and greets in controlled environments with pre-planned questions. That’s not reflective of the tough and important decisions faced by our legislators and it’s cheating the very people we’re signing up to serve.
When community leaders and residents get together to learn more about their candidates, it’s not an ambush. When a moderator asks a tough question about the issues, it’s not a public fight. And when we are asked to explain our position, it’s not mudslinging. That’s part of the job.
Our community deserves a robust series of debates, hosted in each region of our diverse district, focused on the decisions that matter most to working families. I am committed to accepting and attending as many as I possibly can because there’s nothing more important than having a discussion about the future of our state.
The election is less than two months away and I know there are a wide range of neighborhood associations and organizations willing to step up and host these discussions. I’ve reached out to Ms. Helton and asked her to join me at these events in talking about what matters in this election—the issues. I’m hopeful she will and that we are able to have a respectful, in-depth, and productive conversation about how to move Tennessee forward.
_ Joda Thongnopnua