JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Democratic candidate for governor and former Nashville mayor Karl Dean stopped by our station today during a visit to the area.
Dean is in the Tri-Cities this week as part of his tour to emphasize jobs, education and health care in the volunteer state.
One of two democrats running for governor of the state, Dean said he feels Tennesseans want a governor who is going to be “middle of the road.”
“Someone who is practical, someone who has common sense and gets things done,” Dean said. “I think having the experience of being a mayor of a major city — eight years as mayor of Nashville — gives me an appreciation that we are in government to do things. To make life better for the citizens.”
Dean said he believes some of the big issues that matter to Tennesseans include public education, economic opportunities and affordable healthcare.
“I think it’s very important as a state that we produce more college graduates and that we make college available for all Tennesseans,” he said. “I also think moving forward though we have to acknowledge that not everyone goes to college and so we can’t forget to have good vocational programs and good apprenticeship programs and technical programs.”
As hurricanes and tropical storms continue to threaten the coastal states, Dean said he has some experience dealing with a natural disaster, as he was mayor of Nashville in 2010 when the city flooded.
“Probably the worst natural disaster that Nashville has had in the last 75 years,” he said. “We had $2 billion in private property damage, 11 of our citizens died.”
“The volunteer spirit is absolutely critical. Nashville got back up on his feet quick. Probably a lot quicker than a lot of cities could because there were so many people volunteering to help their neighbors, to help strangers,” Dean said. “We had help from all around the country.”
One thing Dean said was a mistake of the current state government is not participating in the Medicaid expansion.
“We have literally lost $3.5 billion that could have been used to make health insurance available to people in need, people with disabilities, people with pre-existing conditions,” Dean said. “That money is not being saved somewhere. That money is being spent in other states. Part of it is our own tax dollars. I think that decision was the wrong one and if there is an opportunity to expand Medicaid we should. I think we need to do everything we can to look out for our citizens and to make sure that we are treating our taxpayers right by not just leaving money on the table or having our taxpayer dollars go elsewhere. I think it was a big mistake.”
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