JACKSON, Tenn. – April 28, 2004 – State Sen. Don McLeary and state Rep. Chris Crider spoke to a group of Union University students and faculty on April 23, 2004. Addressing a Tennessee history and government class, McLeary and Crider talked about their personal campaign experiences, how a bill becomes law in Tennessee and about some key issues that the Tennessee General Assembly is facing.
“This was an excellent opportunity for students to see the state government in action, rather than just learning about it,” said Judy LeForge, visiting instructor of history at Union. “Both McLeary and Crider are very involved and knowledgeable about the legislative process and provided useful information on how it works.”
Crider is a 28-year-old freshman representative for the District 79 seat, which includes all of Gibson County and south Carroll County. A Republican, Crider defeated 10-year incumbent Paul Phelan last November in what has became known as one of the biggest political upsets in Gibson County. Crider is only the second Republican to hold the District 79 office and is the youngest member of the state legislature. He serves on the agriculture and health committees. Crider, who lives in Milan, graduated from the University of Tennessee and owns a financial planning business in Milan.
Crider spoke of the difficulties of campaigning against a well-known and well-financed opponent and the unique experience of being the youngest member of the General Assembly.
“We just wanted to give people an option to vote for someone who would vote like they would,” Crider said. “The people had faith in my ability to represent them and I’m working to do a good job at it.”
McLeary, also a freshman, is a Democratic senator for District 27, representing Gibson, Madison, and Carroll counties. McLeary serves as Democratic Caucus Majority Whip and is on numerous committees, including the Oversight on Education, Government Operations, and Economic Development committees. A former investment executive with Union Planters Bank and former football coach at UT Martin, McLeary lives in Humboldt with his wife. They have three children.
When asked by a student how to decide who is the best candidate is to vote for, McLeary stated that the best way to decide is to look at individual candidates.
“It doesn’t matter if they are Republicans or Democrats,” said McLeary. “Just look at the kind of person they are to determine whether they would make good representatives.”
Leforge said, “As freshmen representatives, both McLeary and Crider have shown a passion for the people they represent. They both have new ideas and are working hard to realize their goals. It was a great opportunity for Union students, and we are fortunate they took time from their busy schedules to come”
by Mariann Martin ('05)