Senator Mark Green Addresses Tea Party
District 22 Senator Mark Green from Clarksville spoke to members of the Wilson County Tea Party at their most recent meeting. He shared some of his goals in the Senate, the motivation that propelled him to that office and his plans to seek the highest public office in the State of Tennessee.
Chairman Menda Holmes opened the meeting by stating the Tea Party’s opposition to Governor Haslam’s proposed gas tax despite the State’s $1.8 billion surplus. She also explained that the gas tax can be increased in the future without approval from the legislature due to the way the bill was written.
Holmes then announced that Pastor Ben Graham of Mt. Juliet had been unanimously approved by the organization’s board of directors to succeed her as the new Chairman of the Wilson County Tea Party. She thanked the audience for their support during her 4 years as chairman and urged continued support for Graham in his new role.
Ben Graham followed. “I’m going to get involved because it is my duty,” he began, “Now is not the time to be relaxed.” After sharing several humorous anecdotes, he brought attention to his family who was in attendance, noting the future of his four boys was the main reason he was not going to sit back at this time. The group welcomed him with a warm round of applause.
“Tennesseans are this state’s greatest resource,” Senator Green began as he talked about the work ethic his father had instilled in him as a boy. When he was in the first grade his father lost his arm. After his father’s employer placed him in a desk job with much lower pay he took on a second job of roofing houses. With a stump of an arm he would carry shingle packs up a ladder and start the nails with a single hand – a strong lesson in overcoming adversity.
Senator Green went on to graduate from West Point in 1986 with a degree in economics, obtained a Masters from the University of Southern California and earned his medical degree at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He came to Tennessee as an army special operation flight surgeon assigned to the 160th Special Ops Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell. There he planned and flew on some of the war on terror’s most covert operations.
His most memorable mission was the capture of Saddam Hussein whom he interviewed for six hours on the night of his capture. The details of this interview and his service with our military’s Jedi Nights are revealed in his book, “A Night with Saddam.”
After retiring from the military in 2006 he started Align MD which is an emergency department staffing company. He serves as the president/CEO and has also set up the Align MD foundation which provides healthcare to underserved populations and operates a free medical clinic in his hometown.
Five years later former Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey asked him to run for Senate but he was hesitant. Shortly thereafter, at his 25th reunion, he was reminded that the mission of West Point was to develop leaders who will serve their country for a life time. Inspiration came while standing at MacArthur’s statue and the inscription, “Duty, Honor and Country,” fully sank in. Returning to Tennessee, he accepted the Lt. Governor’s challenge and was elected to the State Senate in 2012.
“As government decreases freedom increases. People use this freedom to develop prosperity,” Green explained as he talked about streamlining licensure of various trades such as hair dressers. “Do you really need 300 hours of training to wash someone’s hair?”
“Opponents on the Left want to replace God with government,” he said. “Government entitlement programs tend to cover up people’s God given abilities just like hanging a piece of cloth over a painting will hide its beautiful artwork,” he continued.
“In this country, what is given unto Caesar is given unto us,” referring to the fact that the people in this nation govern the republic. “We must all get involved with the political process,” he said.
Addressing education, he redefined the role he felt the Federal and State Education Departments should have. “The federal department of education should only do studies. They should not have the authority to dictate policy or curriculum to the States. The State Department of Education should support economies of scale for the different sized school districts throughout the state. All final decisions must be done at the local level,” Green emphasized.
Citing the low college completion rate of 43.6% in Tennessee, he pointed out that not every kid should go to college. “Rejuvenate vocational education,” he encouraged. “The “Tennessee Promise” program provides a 2 year degree paid for by the State. In fact, we might consider integrating 2 years at TCAT (Tennessee College of Applied Technology) with the junior and senior year of high school,” Green suggested.
Moving onto infrastructure, he addressed the need for expanding broadband networks into rural areas to support the growth of hi-tech agriculture. Senator Green is sponsoring a bill to encourage partnerships between major carriers and electric co-ops for this type of broadband deployment.
Given Tennessee’s central location in the eastern U.S. he acknowledged the need for good barge ports and great roads but did not support a tax increase to achieve it when the State has a $1.8 billion surplus. Mass transit projects should be tackled with private/public partnerships with emphasis on private he explained. “If it’s in the Yellow Pages, the government should stay out of it.”
In the Q&A session that followed he was asked to share his plans to seek the Governor’s office in 2018. Green said he declared early but has not officially launched his campaign because the State legislature is still in session. However, key players on his campaign staff have been hired and volunteer slots are being filled around the state. After session, he plans to formally kick off his campaign with a state wide bus tour.