State Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin), the powerful chairman of the House Finance Committee, announced on Thursday that he will not seek re-election.
“It has been my honor and pleasure to serve the citizens of the 61st District for the last 21 years. I would not trade that experience but circumstances change,” Sargent told the Williamson Herald, which noted:
Due to recent circumstances, Sargent’s health has become his top priority.
“I have dealt with skin cancer on and off for many years,” he said. “I have recently been diagnosed with a related condition that requires my attention. My health is the most important matter right now. I want to focus on my health, my wife Nancy, and our children and grandchildren.”
However, Sargent stated that this is not the end of his community involvement.
“I think I still have a lot to offer to Williamson County and the State of Tennessee, just not in the House of Representatives,” he said. “I am confident that different opportunities and challenges will present themselves.”
Sargent’s announcement put the spotlight on conservative activist Rebecca Burke, a member of the Republican State Executive Committee, who is the only announced candidate for the Republican nomination in the 61st House District.
“Charles Sargent has served Williamson County communities with great devotion for over twenty years,” Burke said in an exclusive statement to The Tennessee Star on Thursday morning.
“The times are changing and his leadership style spoke to the needs of the times,” Burke continued, adding:
The State of Tennessee faces several crises that are important to the residents of House District 61, as I have learned walking door to door to be in close touch with voters. They are worried about the prospect of increasing taxes to meet the needs of growth, mainly the building of more schools and infrastructure to support new homes. As my campaign has addressed, the 25-year-old formula the State uses to help with schools’ funding is grossly inadequate for high growth, high cost of living counties like Williamson. We need new and better funding mechanisms.
We need to be released from oversight of the Tennessee Department of Education which has stifled creativity with promises of assessment tools that are inadequate despite tens of millions of dollars in investment. Teachers are unhappy and students are over stressed. Williamson has the formula to deliver high performance unfettered.
The State of Tennessee also faces crises in curbing opioid use and the impact that has on health care funding. The federal government has failed to deliver a viable health care plan, except to say they will block grant the mess to the States. It will take leadership in the State which understands education and health care. I am uniquely qualified with decades of experience in both fields. I look forward to reaching out to Williamson countians with solutions to these vexing problems.”
Several other candidates are now likely to enter the race.