1. Abortion rights
Holmes received the first question, which asked his stance on legislation regarding abortion.
Holmes said his personal opinion was that every abortion "is a tragedy," but a topic that must be looked at with compassion, understanding and sensitivity. He said as long as it is a federal law, elected officials must uphold it, and although it can always be changed, state government should support other options for women, such as funding birth control centers.
"In having to uphold this [federal law], we need to look at our options. We need to find ways to limit abortions in the state of
Cepicky responded saying his belief, as a Christian, was that all life begins at conception, describing abortion as "committing murder" and a "scourge on our state." He said he believes the solution lies in less government funding for organizations like
"The options begin before the choice is made to engage in the activity that leads to pregnancy. It's a personal choice and we don't need the government to come in here and provide birth control and all the other things necessary for women to avoid pregnancies or take care of pregnancies," Cepicky said. "I think that we should work to de-fund
2. 2nd Amendment rights
When the topic came to gun control, Holmes said he comes from a family of gun owners, and doesn't support any law infringing on a person's right to arm themselves, even if it's assault weapons. He said federal laws banning guns have historically failed, and that there should be stronger laws regarding background checks, and better ways to conduct mental evaluations of would-be gun owners.
"We want to make sure people can maintain their rights to keep and bear arms to defend themselves, but if you threaten others or yourself, we need to be able to step in, help you and help others," Holmes said. "I support your right to keep and bear arms. If I wanted to take your guns away, I'd have to start with my own."
Cepicky challenged Holmes by saying he had previously written on social media his support for background checks to all sales, including private sales to family members, magazine capacity limits and banning bump stock modifiers. He said stricter laws for gun ownership haven't necessarily proven adequate in the past.
"Some of the strictest gun laws reside in
3. Healthcare vs. Medicaid
Healthcare for Tennesseans was discussed at length by both candidates, and whether
Cepicky said he does not support Medicaid expansion, while Holmes said 32 U.S. states who have expanded Medicaid have shown improvements. Cepicky said Medicaid expansion will only harm taxpayers in the long run, and has almost bankrupt the state during previous attempts. He called for "common sense" solutions like increasing access to primary care and outpatient treatments through technology, especially in rural communities.
"Expanding Medicaid will create a doctor and nursing shortage that we haven't seen since the last time we revisited this when
Holmes argued that of the 32 states who have passed Medicaid expansion, many of them have lower private premiums, as well as better access to private care. He also said that when it came time to fund a Medicaid expansion, he isn't afraid to seek input from the experts in the field.
"The majority of Tennesseans have clearly, loudly and plainly spoken on this issue," Holmes said. "I've said since day one that if I don't have the answers, I'm going to ask an expert. I had questions about the Medicaid expansions and asked the experts of the
4. Top priorities, agri
The debate concluded with discussions about each candidate's top priorities for
Both candidates agreed that
Holmes said he mostly wants to give
"You have a voice in all issues and all matters, but what I've believed since day one on this trail, is that we need a representative that's going to give you an ear," Holmes said. "I think mostly, my top priorities are putting you first."
There is also a need to focus more on
Both candidates expressed support for expanding vocational training programs for young people, avoiding the high costs of becoming involved in farming and agriculture these days. There is also a need for future generations to keep the industry moving forward, which will become reliant on interest, technology and global manufacturing.
"We have to put
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