Caskey kicks off state representative campaign
By Joel Davis | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Blount County Education Association President Grady Caskey has officially kicked off his campaign against incumbent state Rep. Art Swann, R-Maryville, for the Republican nomination for the 8th State House District seat.
Caskey held the event Saturday at the Springbrook Pavilion.
He said the campaign is gearing up in earnest. “We’ve been trying to raise some money. I’ve been putting signs up, talking to people and just trying to get better organized and out in the community. Plus, as president of the local education association, I’m having to try to deal with some end-of-the-year school issues. I’m trying to balance that with the campaign.”
Education is a cornerstone of Caskey’s campaign. “Education got slammed last year,” he said. “My opponent voted for every bit of the legislation that did the most damage to teachers. We have an evaluation system that is totally unworkable. It’s got to be changed.
“The other thing was loss of bargaining. Mr. Swann made some promises on education, and he did not fulfill any of those promises. He promised to protect teachers, and what he voted for has really hurt teachers. We have teachers heading for the exits because of what the legislature did to them.”
If the legislature is concerned about improving student achievement, it should actually consult teachers — not punish them, Caskey said. “Quit blaming the teachers.”
Caskey is also concerned about the state’s Basic Education Program funding formula. “I don’t believe that the students in Blount County are $2,000 less valuable than the kids in Davidson County or Shelby County or one of the other big counties. There needs to be some equity in the funding formula.”
The current legislature has departed from Republican principles of small government, Caskey said. “We’ve got a very, very intrusive legislature right now. They are trying to micromanage education. They are trying to micromanage everything. That’s not the Republican party I grew up with. The Republican party I grew up with was small government, nonintrusive government, freedom, and getting out of people’s lives.”
The state needs to find a balance between spending and its obligations, Caskey said. “We have to understand that sometimes less is not enough. We have to be frugal, but we also have to make sure we take care of those who are less fortunate and can’t take care of themselves. We also need local communities to take care of themselves, too. Government should be the safety net — not walking around hanging out goodies.”
In November 2010, Swann replaced former state Rep. Joe McCord as the 8th District representative. He is a former District 20 state representative and brother of Maryville Councilman Joe Swann.
In other state primary races, incumbent state Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, and Seymour resident Scott Hughes are seeking the Republican nomination for the 2nd District State Senate seat, which is currently held by Overbey. Formerly the 8th Senate District, the 2nd District includes all of Blount and most of Sevier County.
Incumbent 20th District state Rep. Robert Ramsey faces Tona Monroe, of Greenback, an unsuccessful candidate for the seat in 2008.
The state primary election will be held Aug. 2. The presidential and state general elections will be held Nov. 6.