Dennis Clark, a Democrat, has announced his candidacy for the the Tennessee House District 28 seat.
"We need a new generation of leadership for the people who need it the most," said Clark. "We need safer streets, stronger families and communities and smarter children."
The needs of the district's black community are not being addressed at the state level and that has to change, he said.
Democrat Joanne Favors is the incumbent and is seeking reelection.
Clark, who owns a small public relations and marketing firm, cited five years of legislative experience as a major asset. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth from 2004 to 2009. In that role, he was a legislative advocate for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. Clark also served as a legislative aide and policy adviser to Georgia state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan from 2009 to 2010.
As a community leader and activist, Clark participates in advocacy programs related to education and violence reduction.
Clark said he wants criminal justice reform that helps "formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society as productive citizens" and to "end the school-to-prison pipeline I see in my community."
He also called for proper funding of high-quality education as a priority for every child, "regardless of race, economic status and what part of town they live in."
Clark said he also considers job creation and the rebuilding of urban communities as key priorities. This means competitive living wages, educational opportunities for adults and small business growth for minorities and women, he said.
"There's people in my district who make $13,000 a year," he said. "How can anyone live like that?"
Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or firstname.lastname@example.org.