In the second debate between state Senate Democratic nominee Andraé McGary and his Republican opponent Todd Gardenhire, the men highlighted their differences in fixing failing schools and creating more local jobs.
To a small group of locals at the Cleveland State Community College, Gardenhire argued in favor of school vouchers Monday night, saying parents need to be empowered to pull their kids out of a failing school and move them somewhere else.
"We have basically a voucher system with [higher education] grants, students get and they can chose any college they want to go to," he said. "If it works for higher education, why can't it work for lower education?"
But McGary, who is a Chattanooga city councilman for District 8, said while he pulled his own daughter out of a failing school and put her in a private school, he is against school vouchers and wants to see more money put into the current system.
"We recognize choice is very important here," he said. "But ultimately I'm not for a voucher system because I believe it short-skirts the issue, and the issue is we have to fund education."
Gardenhire and McGary are campaigning to represent Senate District 10, which includes portions of Bradley and Hamilton counties.
State Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, isn't seeking re-election so he can run for Chattanooga mayor.
Both men also disagreed on how to bring more jobs to the area, McGary arguing local leaders need to work together to bring business to the region and not think of what only benefits a specific county.
Gardenhire debated how he believes the real question isn't jobs but "careers, careers, careers."
He argued the state needs to partner with local community colleges to train young people for local jobs so businesses will hire locally and not bring in qualified employees from other states.
But McGary argued several times in the debate that Gardenhire's answers weren't based in reality.
He corrected Gardenhire, saying bringing large companies to the region is overall beneficial.
Gardenhire also threw jabs at the councilman for opposing the latest gun legislation that would allow employees to leave their guns in their vehicles at work.
McGary argued that he is against the bill because it takes the rights of the employer away, and he also accused the National Rifle Association of going too far in their lobbying at the capitol.
"The NRA has raged war against our legislatures," he said.
Gardenhire snapped back that every law abiding citizen should have the right to tote their weapon to work if they please.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at email@example.com or 423-757-6659.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...