Sam Bledsoe

Sam Bledsoe (left) and his wife and two children.

On Thursday, Brentwood resident Sam Bledose, 39, officially became the Democratic nominee for Tennessee's 61st Congressional District, and will go on to face Republican incumbent Brandon Ogles in November.

A native of Brentwood, Bedsoe meet his wife while in high school at Brentwood High, and went on to have two children.

Graduating from Tennessee Tech with a degree in computer science, Bledsoe said he was first inspired to get more involved in politics after there "started to be Nazis openly walking on the street," referencing the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.

Questions from the Home Page are paraphrased.

Do support expanding Medicaid?

I think it's borderline criminal that we haven't done it yet. The number of people before the pandemic in Tennessee who were under-insured or uninsured was about 700,000 - like 10% of the state. There's no humanitarian, logical or even budgetary argument against [expanding Medicaid], although of course I have heard the ones that Republicans put out... they don't make sense, they're incorrect and misleading.

The fact that we haven't done it is awful, and it should be done as soon as humanly possible.

The reason they don't want to do it is because it's a part of Obamacare, they don't want to support the ACA (Affordable Care Act). Hospital networks and some health care companies around the state have already come together to cover any excess burden on state finances that would come with offering more care, so it's not factually accurate that [expanding Medicaid would be a burden on the taxpayers].

We're already putting [ACA] money into the federal level, we're already paying into this with out taxes, we just need to get that money back into the state. It's like over a billion dollars a year that were not bringing in.

If elected to the state legislature, would you push for any form criminal justice or police reform?

Yes, definitely. I would focus on things like reducing the power of police unions, community oversight of the police - so not community policing, but an elected or jury-style chosen oversight board. Money is literally power, and it's clear that the police budgets keep going up - even locally here in Williamson County, the police are about a quarter of the Brentwood budget, of the Franklin budget.

It's easy to see a structural critique of our policing system as a personal attack, and I know that's a sensitive issue here right now, so I wanted to say it is always sad when we lose a young family man from our county. My wife and son went to the procession [of Brentwood officer Destin Legieza].

Where do you stand on school vouchers, which would make funds earmarked for public schools eligible to go towards private schools?

So I see that as one more step in a four decade-long effort to privatize services that could, should be provided by our government. So it takes things that are publicly provided with democratic control and oversight and directs the money to for-profit companies.

So I'm against that type of neoliberal privatization that has taken over almost every aspect of our life and services. One of the major reasons why I think it's dangerous to cut police funding for example is because the people who need it are just going to privatize it, and that's worse because there's no democratic accountability or control.

If elected, are there any legislative proposals you're particularity passionate about pursuing?

The main thing is expanding Medicaid, I think as far as how many people's lives are going to improve, that's the thing - the program is there, it's easy to do, [and] it helps a ton of people, especially right now.

Beyond that, I would say education, so allocating more money to teachers specifically. The situations they find themselves in are awful; they're not getting raises again this year, which of course means they're getting a pay cut because things keep getting more expensive. So giving their unions more power, making sure we fund teacher raises, [etc.].

For the environment, I support the Green New Deal on a federal level, but of course there's not a ton of stuff you can do on a state level, but [I would push] to protect our watersheds better and dealing with dumping of toxic waste. We're one of the worst states when it comes to just letting toxic waste in from other states and burying it.

[If elected, Tennesseans] would have a competent person in state government looking out for their health and their kids' health, instead of what we have now, which is empty suits working for the benefit of their party, big companies, and whoever else ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) tells them to.

They’d have someone fighting for keeping teachers and students alive and well, instead of rushing [them] underprepared into the start of the school year mid-outbreak.

If elected, could you name one example of how the lives of Williamson County residents could improve?

So many people move to Williamson County for the schools, which is great because we do have really good public schools.

But our teachers don't get paid enough - Williamson County teachers can't live in Williamson County, they can't actually be members of the community, they have to spend their own money on supplies... we have to compensate teachers well. That's something I would push for really hard.

Bledsoe's opponent, Brandon Ogles, did not respond to a request for interview.

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