Cooper: The Free Press recommends re-electing Hazlewood, Gravitt

Tennessee state Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, left, and Tennessee State Rep. Marc Gravitt.

The Hamilton County delegation in the Tennessee House, barring something completely unforeseen, will return intact when the legislature convenes in early 2017.

Two members, state Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, in District 27, and state Rep. Marc Gravitt, R-East Ridge, in District 30, still face opposition on the November ballot, but neither of their Democratic opponents, Katie Cowley and Steve Gordon, respectively, are actively campaigning. An independent in District 30, Patrick Hickey, is also on the ballot, but he has moved out of the district.

Two other members of the delegation, Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, in District 28, and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, in District 29, won primary races in August and have no opposition in the general election. Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Hixson, in District 26, had no primary and has no general election opponent.

Hazlewood and Gravitt both have served one term, and we heartily endorse their re-election for a second.

Both have an interest in the state continuing to improve in the education of its students, especially those in this county.

"Nothing is more important," Hazlewood said, "We're still searching as a delegation for specific things we can drive. We send money, but are there specific things we can do?"

"We have a vested interest," Gravitt said, referring to the state being the schools' largest investor.

Hazlewood emphasized the importance of a trained workforce when she ran initially in 2014, and she said education is the key to that.

"Some [people] are still unemployed or underemployed," she said. Meanwhile, employers have struggled to find employees trained for the jobs they're offering. "Some folks still don't have the skill set," she said.

Hazlewood said she also keeps a wary eye on transportation issues in her district and is concerned about beefing up the state's rainy-day fund for a future economic downturn.

"We're so reliant on income tax," she said. "We need to be cognizant of that."

In the legislature in 2016, Hazlewood, a former business executive and later an economic development director for the state, sponsored several business-related bills in her assignments to the Business and Utilities Committee and Finances, Ways and Means Committee.

She also sponsored one that updated the language in state law that clarified the type of contraceptive supplies that could be provided in a collaborative pharmacy practice agreement regarding a nonpatient-specific prescriptive order.

Gravitt, who has been vice mayor of East Ridge for the past four years, is not running for re-election there to devote more time to his legislative duties.

In a second term, he'd like to work on issues involving prescription drugs, including securing more funding for recovery.

"There's not a family that hasn't been touched by some kind of addiction," Gravitt said.

In the same vein, he said, he'd also push for the expanded use of medical marijuana.

Gravitt, in the legislature in 2016, sponsored a bill that changed the formula for calculating hearing costs in property tax appeals before the board of equalization.


A sample of what the ballot will look like in Hamilton County for the November 8 general election and a list of where you can vote. For a list of early voting locations click here. For more voting information click here.