The Williamson Families political action committee held its 2022 election kickoff event at The Factory at Franklin on Tuesday evening where the group announced their Williamson Families-endorsed county commission and school board candidates.
Those candidates include Lisa Lenox (District 1), Andy Moriarty (D2), Jeff Graves (D3), Daniel Jordan (D3), Mary Smith (D5), Evan Bledsoe (D5), Christopher Richards (D7), Drew Torres (D8), Brad Diaz (D10) and Wayne Garrett (D11), all of whom are running for the county commission.
Sitting District 8 Williamson County Commissioner Barb Sturgeon and sitting District 4 Commissioner Gregg Lawrence were also endorsed by the PAC as well as as new candidate Pete Stresser (D4).
The Williamson County School Board candidates include Elliot Franklin (D4), Debbie Pace (D6), Donna Clements (D8), William "Doc" Holladay (D10) and Jamie Lima (D12), while sitting school board member Dan Cash (D2) was also endorsed.
The kickoff event saw a variety of speakers including Robin Steenman who is leading the Williamson Families and local chapter of Mom's for Liberty.
"Our county has learned the hard way that voting strictly Republican does not guarantee we are voting for truly conservative candidates," Steenman told the crowd of around 300 people. "Williamson Families exists to identify, resource and support the true conservative leaders on the ballot. That means a lot more than a donation."
Steenman said that their support of these candidates would continue past the election cycle into public office if those elected officials continue to represent "the people," calling the upcoming 2022 election as a "crucial course-correction" for the county.
Speakers rallied against their idea of corruption, specifically claims of corruption within the Williamson County government and the school board. Outrage was aimed at tax hikes and the ongoing debate over books in schools that depict alleged "nudity or sexual activity," with the group calling these books "child pornography."
"We have a swamp here, we have an establishment, and it's very comfortable where it's at. I'm not okay with that reputation. I'm not okay with that reputation of being a corrupt county," Steenman said. "Williamson County, we have it in us, we can be the city on the hill. It's high time to take our county back."
Like the Tea Party movement more than a decade ago, the group (made of up registered Republicans and independents,) championed familiar fiscal and social conservative values, along with the equally familiar pairing of God and country, freedom and Christ, references to former President Ronald Reagan. Speakers alleged that the ongoing debates over COVID-19, masks and public education, and issues involving race, sexuality and gender, are believed to be part of a "war."
This war of morality and faith was detailed by the event's opening speaker Jeremy "JSlay" Slayden, a Franklin resident who previously played for the Philadelphia Phillies. He preached to his "fellow Christian warriors" of Satan and "mass formation psychosis" while also performing a monologue from 1995's Braveheart.
Actress Leigh-Allyn Baker spoke following the playing of the trailer for an upcoming film, and called on citizens to become engaged in the political process.
"I've said many times that this is a momma bear revolution, but I'm happy to say that it also belongs to the single freedom-loving bears and the papa bears and the grandpa bears and the grandma bears. What I'm telling you is that the time of hibernation is over," Baker said. "This is when we crawl out of our nice, warm, comfortable Netflix-caves and take a stand. It's all-hands-on-deck to pull off a political David and Goliath of epic proportions."
Musician John Rich, who previously spoke to Tennessee General Assembly's Criminal Justice Subcommittee where his remarks sparked criticism, closed out the night, speaking of the power of the moment in Williamson County.
"You might think that a local election like that is not a big deal. Let me tell you what, that's a national conversation. This is a local example of a national conversation," Rich said. "Right here, in this county, [it] could become the impetus and the driver and the viral moment that everybody's looking for. That, my god, look what the parents and grandparents did down in that little Tennessee country county."