published Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Jim Lewis seeking Senate seat in 16th District

JIM LEWIS

Age: 68

Family: Married with four sons

Education: 1967 graduate of University of Tennessee at Knoxville; 1970 graduate of Samford College of Pharmacy

Political experience: State senator for District 10 from 1982 to 1990

Occupation: Staff pharmacist at Parkridge Medical Center

A former Tennessee state senator has announced that he is joining the race to represent the area he served before it underwent redistricting.

Democrat Jim Lewis served in the Senate from 1982 to 1990, when District 10 included Marion, Grundy, Sequatchie, Van Buren, Bledsoe, Rhea, Meigs and McMinn counties. The redistricting led to what is now District 16 -- encompassing Marion, Grundy, Sequatchie, Van Buren, Warren, Coffee and Franklin counties.

A Marion County native, Lewis has taken issue with redistricting of the state House and Senate, he said in a news release.

"My home, Marion County, has been fortunate enough to be represented by a great representative, Bill Harmon, and a great senator, Andy Berke," he stated. "Losing representation of that caliber to gerrymandering is a tragedy. I will do my best to live up to their high standards of excellent representation."

Lewis, a pharmacist for more than 40 years, said he wants more focus in the Senate on the "average citizens" of Tennessee who aren't being represented by those now in office.

"While Tennesseans need jobs, those in control are talking cuts -- cuts in civil rights, women's rights, voting rights, workers' rights, health care and public education," he said. "It seems as if those in control of Tennessee believe they have an obligation to punish all Tennesseans."

During Lewis' time as a senator, he opposed the privatization of public schools, and he said he still would have a strong focus on education if elected again.

"Tennessee teachers know how to fix public education," he stated. "We should listen to them rather than renting public schools to private corporations."

Debbie Cleek has known Lewis for about five years. She resigned as vice chairwoman of the Marion County Democratic Party to focus on Lewis' campaign because board members may not endorse candidates, she said.

Cleek said she is confident his experience and thoughtfulness for common people can lead to a successful campaign.

"He knows the problems of people. He's not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get in there," she said. "He's a man for all people, not just the wealthy."

Other candidates for the seat are Republicans Ron Stoltzfus, Winchester; Rod McClellan, McMinnville; Eric Chance, Morrison; and Janice Bowling, Tullahoma. Democrats running are Justin Walling, Spencer; Steve Roller, Smithville; Kevin Lawrence, Viola; and Jeff Bottoms, McMinnville, according to the Tennessee secretary of state's website.The primary election is Aug. 2.

Lewis is the father of Ryan Lewis, a Marion County correspondent for the Times Free Press.

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