Ed Jackson: Giving a Voice to Western Tennessee
ALEC-FreedomWorks Legislator of the Week
This week, ALEC and FreedomWorks introduce Tennessee State Senator Edward Jackson from the 27th District. His district is located in Madison, Dyer, Crockett, Lake and Lauderdale Counties, and includes his hometown of Jackson. First elected in 2014, he currently serves on the Government Operations, State and Local Government, and Health and Welfare Committees.
Why did you run for office?
Senator Jackson – My District of West Tennessee was being represented by a member of a non-conservative and non-business minded party, and this party had occupied this seat since the mid-1800’s. We had lost our voice in my district and West Tennessee was being left out in the growth our state was experiencing. We had lost much of our industry and the jobs left our part of Tennessee. After thirty plus years of working in business and with a large corporation I retired to manage a couple of small businesses I owned. Soon after retirement, I was asked if I would be interested in running for this senate seat. For two months my wife and I discussed and prayed about my run for office and decided “Yes.” It has been one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever taken on.
In your view, what is the biggest issue before your state’s legislature and your position on it?
Senator Jackson – Our state of Tennessee has taken on many huge challenges over the last eight to ten years with education reform, creating a business friendly atmosphere, opioid addiction, infrastructure, lowering taxes, corrections and justice reform. I feel that our greatest challenge is health care. Over one-third of our state’s budget is all areas of healthcare. Our state has huge challenges with everything from general health, mental health, health care costs, drug addiction, availability of healthcare in rural areas, the developmentally disabled, and shortages of health care workers. I sit on the Health Committee in the Senate and we have a great and challenging agenda before us in 2018.
If you could wave your magic wand, what would you like to see immediately implemented in your state?
Senator Jackson – The use of drugs of all forms in our state by our youth and young adults is a huge problem. We have a shortage of workers that are skilled and trained but the biggest hurdle that those trying to hire workers is finding workers that can pass a drug test. I would like to wave my magic wand to create a coalition between families, education, health care, law enforcement, corrections and judicial to come up with new ideas to put the brakes on drug abuse.
What project or law are you most proud of and why?
Senator Jackson – I would say corrections and justice reform is my favorite and big challenge project. I am Chairman of the Corrections Committee and we have a great deal of work and improvements that need to take place in our state. The corrections budget is the fifth largest line item in our budget at one billion dollars. We are looking at what other states are doing to make improvements and are meeting regularly with corrections, judicial and law enforcement to see what is working best across our state.
How has ALEC helped you as a legislator?
Senator Jackson – ALEC has helped me with being able to delve deeper into issues that I am interested in for our state. I attended my first ALEC meeting in D.C. in January 2014 just after I won my election for office and before I had started my first session. At the D.C. meeting, I was able to learn about problems, not just Tennessee had but all states were struggling with. I enjoy and get a lot out of the meetings on the different topics and the discussion during the sessions that ALEC puts together. I like hearing the experts you bring in and the discussion that takes place.
Can you share a fun fact about yourself that’s not in your official bio?
Senator Jackson – This is a true story. When I was asked by friends to run for this Senate seat, I came home and told my wife what they had asked me to do. Her first response was “well you told them ‘no’ didn’t you?” I told them, “I would think about it.” After a couple of months of talking and praying my wife came to me and said, “ Honey, I think I will vote for you.” I instantly thought Marilyn has given her approval. I thanked her for agreeing to vote for me. But before I had gotten the thank you completely out of my mouth she said: “I think every woman should vote for her ex-husband.” Well after almost four years in office we celebrated 45 years of marriage in August and we are still going strong. She is enjoying my service to our state as much as I am. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
Each week, ALEC and FreedomWorks showcase legislators who embody the principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism.