Thanks to all who greeted me during my recent week-long bike ride through the First District. I appreciate the discussions I had with so many voters in their own communities. I met with folks in Johnson City, Elizabethton, Hampton, Mountain City, Bristol, Church Hill (where I chatted with folks from Kingsport) Rogersville, Sneedville, Morristown, White Pine, Sevierville, Newport, Greenville, Jonesborough and Erwin. My bicycle tires touched all twelve counties in Tennessee District 1. I met with supporters at some stops but at others I chatted with Everyday Americans in diners and other local businesses in an effort to learn their concerns.
I had not recognized that so many citizens fervently believe in Term Limits. The fact that my likely opponent, Congressman Roe, has violated his pledge to only serve 10 years was more worrisome to voters than I anticipated.
I knew that the impact of the region’s opioid epidemic is severe, but in some communities it is even worse than I realized. 90% of crime is drug related in some locations in our district. And while opioids are the primary drugs of abuse in my own community of Johnson City, in some other communities the major concern is methamphetamine abuse. Suboxone abuse also is pervasive. Drug addiction is a topic that voters want to see addressed.
Eco-tourism and Agri-tourism are areas that already provide boosts to our East Tennessee economy, but businessmen and businesswomen believe we can do better. “We have a beautiful town, but my downtown business will flourish when the empty storefronts have other businesses,” was a theme I heard over and over again. I certainly had a chance to appreciate the region’s natural beauty while on my on my bicycle, and I do feel that we can make our region even more attractive to visitors from other areas.
It was a pleasure to ride my Tennessee built bicycle throughout the region and meet with so many voters. The reception was quite positive and I remain confident that the citizens of East Tennessee are ready to vote for Responsible Change and send me to Washington.