Frank Eaton modestly describes himself as an average, hard-working family man who became interested in running for the Legislature because he sees a meaningful opportunity to serve his family, and help his community, by looking out for our future. That's all surely true, yet Eaton's professional background and insight, thoughtful logic and low-keyed candor, are well beyond the "average" we see in candidates for public office. If all our legislators were as sensible and as genuine as Eaton, we wouldn't have to worry so much about what the Legislature is doing to the public interest in Nashville.
Eaton has worked nearly 25 years for BlueCross BlueShield, first as a registered nurse and currently as a project manager. In his civic life, he has served, among other things, as president of the North Hixson Neighborhood Association, and as chair of the Chattanooga Neighborhood Association Coalition's codes committee. Both inform his outlook for civic responsibility.
His intimate knowledge of the health care system, and of the benefits of affordable health care both to individuals and to their productive roles in our society, would be a welcome addition to our legislative delegation.
Equally valuable is his ability to articulate the crucial linkage of secure, regular health care to higher achievement in education, to job growth and economic opportunities, and to Tennesseans' ultimate prosperity and quality of life.
His first priority, he says, is jobs and a growing middle class; next are education and environmental protection. He recognizes that a quality work force and the growth of family-wage jobs rely primarily on quality public education and environmental integrity.
He advocates improving education by empowering teachers, not by demoralizing them and driving the best away. He also believes in making college and vocational training available to any Tennessean, regardless of income.
Eaton correctly sees the best route to improving education is through restoring respect and support for teachers and allowing them a voice in educational policy and curriculum. He sees harm in the recent wave of breaking teachers' organizations, denigrating their professional role, and sticking them with an excessive teach-the-test routine. Instead, he favors more flexibility for teachers' innovation, and improved pay and benefits.
Eaton's wisdom and insight in the sequential dynamic of how to lift more Tennesseans into a productive middle class and how to secure more and better jobs is far superior to that of Richard Floyd, the incumbent legislator in District 27.
Floyd admittedly cares more about denying women's right to reproductive choice than he does about health care, or regulation of pollution or mountain-top-removal coal mining. He objects to the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act mainly because it would require businesses with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance policies, or pay a penalty.
Floyd is not known for producing solid legislation. Rather, he's known for making wild statements, like declaring that if he saw a transvestite male headed going into a department store's women's dressing room, he'd "stomp a hole in his chest, and then stomp it dry." That stunning remark made as a much negative national attention for Tennessee as the Legislature's far-right "don't say gay" bill, and its bill to give creationist teachers cover for denying the science of evolution.
While Floyd engages with these "social values" fights, he and fellow right-wingers typically downplay their bills to allow PACs to fund fully 100 percent of a candidate's campaign; to give state cash away to businesses as incentives for expansion; and to eliminate inheritance taxes on the estates of Tennessee's super-wealthy minority while cutting the regressive sales tax on food just a tiny fraction.
Eaton would work to steer constructive attention to more vital issues: establishment of the state's insurance exchange, under federal health care reform, for flat-rate, comprehensive health insurance; rational education improvements; and even-handed environmental regulation to protect water and air quality, and to restrict mountain-top removal for coal mining.
With his broad view, incisive intellect and ability to advocate for constructive legislation, Eaton would make a fine representative. We strongly endorse his election to the 27th District seat in the state House of Representatives.