The following is the first in a series of survey responses provided to the Times Free Press by candidates for public office in advance of the Nov. 3 General Election. Today we highlight the two candidates for Tennessee State House of Representatives, District 30. District 30 includes portions of Apison, Brainerd, Collegedale, East Brainerd, East Lake, East Ridge, Missionary Ridge and Ooltewah. The candidates’ answers are presented in alphabetical order. Both candidates were offered an opportunity to submit a photograph, and only one did so.
* Name: Esther Ruth Helton
* Affiliation: Republican
* Previous public office experience: Tennessee state representative, District 30, and vice mayor, East Ridge.
* Why should voters choose you? I care about the people I represent. I have experience at the local government level solving problems close to home. I also have experience solving big picture items such as health-care availability, giving parents and students educational options and protecting our first responders.
* What is the biggest challenge facing the office you seek? Helping small and medium businesses deal with COVID-19. Our economy didn’t slow down because these folks made bad business decisions. It was factors out of their control.
* How will you address this challenge? The State Legislature voted to approve the TN COVID-19 Recovery Act that protects businesses from lawsuits arising from COVID-19 in the absence of gross negligence or willful misconduct. This gives business owners the protection to reopen their businesses.
* What policy position of yours might surprise people? It’s not necessarily a position but my overall body of work in my first term. I was ranked as the fifth most fiscally conservative House member in my first term.
* What past or current public servant do you most admire? Why? Abraham Lincoln because of his unwavering belief in the credo “All men are created equal.” Lincoln’s communication skills were extraordinary when talking direct to people. But he was not a great public speaker, however people believed that he believed what he was saying to them.
* Campaign office address: P.O. Box 9132 – East Ridge, TN 37412
* Campaign office phone: 423-529-0084
* Campaign office email: ElectEstherTN30@gmail.com
* Campaign website: www.ElectEsther.com
* Age on Election Day: 58
* Occupation: Nurse (semi-retired) – state representative & vice mayor East Ridge
* Employer: City of East Ridge and state of Tennessee
* Education: East Ridge High School, Class of 1980. Chattanooga School of Nursing, Class of 1981
* Family: Children – Lee Helton, Lisa Golden and Kip Helton. Five grandchildren.
* City of residence: East Ridge.
* Church/civic involvement: Graceworks Church, East Ridge Alumni Association, East Ridge Optimist, Elks Lodge #91, Hamilton County Republican Women
* A quote or saying you live by: In a world where you can be anything – Be Kind
* Best phone number for voters to contact you: 423-529-0084
* Name: Joseph O Udeaja
* Affiliation: Democrat
* Previous public office experience: None
* Why should voters choose you? Voters should choose me for the following qualities that I embody: dedication, honesty, family values, success, working with people with different views and varying backgrounds. Voters will find that I am always looking for ways to make things better for people and the community and make decisions based on facts.
* What is the biggest challenge facing the office you seek? Having affordable health care. There are many people in my district and throughout the state who cannot afford quality health care. This was the case before COVID-19. With COVID-19, the situation is made worse and requires action.
* How will you address this challenge? My strong background in health care is an asset that I will tap into in working with my colleagues in the legislature, to understand the huge risk and loss associated with having many of our people live with uncertainty about their health care. I will work with them to implement the Medicaid Expansion, which has been shown to provide better and more cost-effective health care to the people. In addition, I will work with health care providers and insurance companies to make patient education a measurable part of their service just as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services does.
* What policy position of yours might surprise people? I believe in fiscal responsibility that prevents government wastes and working within the budget. I believe that those at the low economic level should be helped but that help should not focus only on handouts but on helping people through education, employment and paying livable wage.
* What past or current public servant do you most admire? Why? I admire a public servant who embodies courage, fairness, and truthfulness to the public. A person who is aware of his own fallibility, accepting mistakes without passing such to others and who understands that to be appointed or elected to serve, is an honor that is worth working hard for.
* Campaign office address: P.O. Box 23787
* Campaign office phone: 423-827-5363
* Campaign office email: email@example.com
* Campaign website: www.joseph4tn.com
* Age on Election Day: 64
* Occupation: Clinical Pharmacist
* Employer: retired.for now
* Education: BS, MS in chemistry, doctorate (Pharm.D.) in pharmacy, post-graduate in clinical pharmacy
* Family: Married with four children
* City of residence: Chattanooga
* Church/civic involvement: Christian
* A quote or saying you live by: Do not compromise on your principle for then you are not worth much.
* Best phone number for voters to contact you: 423-827-5363