Republican voters in Tennessee House District 27 may be able to make their Aug. 7 decisions based squarely on issues.
Candidates Tommy Crangle and Patsy Hazlewood say they are both conservatives -- but they don't see eye-to-eye on everything. The two candidates met Monday at their first one-on-one debate sponsored by the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club.
Crangle says he wants to work to end Common Core curriculum, kill the state's tax on dividend income and make Tennessee an uncomfortable place for undocumented immigrants.
Hazlewood says Common Core needs some adjustments -- but standards for education are good. The Hall tax on investment income should be phased out -- gradually. And the state should be a very easy place for undocumented workers and students to start paying taxes.
On education, Crangle, a retired engineer, said flatly he hates Common Core. He doesn't understand what is wrong with the traditional way of teaching children math.
"The old-fashioned way of learning math served me pretty well. And the guys who did the calculations who sent guys to the moon and back again, they learned the same way I did," Crangle said.
On the other hand, Hazlewood, a former telecommunication executive who recently retired as regional director of the state's Department of Economic and Community Development, said like it or not, education across the state is suffering. And she wants Tennessee's children to be able to compete in the job market.
"I've sat across the table from companies who say they have jobs but can't find people to fill them," Hazlewood said. "Do I think it's a perfect system? No. But I do think we have to stick with standards. We can't manage what we can't measure."
She also said Common Core was created by a group of state governors -- not the federal government. And the system can be adjusted.
On the Hall Tax, the state's tax on investment income, both candidates agreed it needed to go, but Hazlewood said abruptly cutting funding from state and municipal programs would hurt local governments -- including those in District 27.
But Crangle said much of the revenue local governments draw from the Hall Tax should simply be raised at the local level. Further, he said the government should be spending only tax dollars on essential services.
The two didn't disagree about a piece of legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants in Tennessee to pay in-state tuition at public colleges. But they didn't outright agree. either.
If passed, the bill would allow undocumented immigrant students who meet academic standards, have Tennessee high school diplomas and have lived here at least five years to get in-state tuition at public colleges.
Hazlewood said she supported the bill, which is backed by both current District 27 Rep. Richard Floyd and Sen. Todd Gardenhire. But Crangle said he still has a few questions about the bill he needs answered before he decides.
Republican voters will still see Charlie White's name on ballots come voting day, but White has suspended his campaign and thrown his support behind Hazlewood.
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic candidate Eric McRoy in November.
District 27 comprises much of the western part of Hamilton County, including Signal Mountain, Walden, Red Bank, part of Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Soddy-Daisy.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6481.