Written by: Alyssa Rivas and Alana Crosby
Gov. Bill Lee visited Collegedale on September 7 for an event advertised on Greg Vital’s campaign Facebook page as “grab a cup of coffee with Bill Lee.” Lee, who made his appearance at The Commons, stopped by the city mainly to endorse and encourage his long-time friend Vital in the race for the Tennessee House of Representatives District 29 seat. The official endorsement by Lee occurred eight days before the election.
Vital won the unopposed Republican nomination with 1,065 votes and is running against the uncontested Democratic candidate DeAngelo Jelks, who won the Democratic primary with 136 votes.
“I am very proud to support this man,” Lee said to the audience at the unofficial press conference, noting how proud he was of those who support Vital.
“We’re in a very good spot in this state,” Lee said. “We’re headed in the right direction, and it’s because of men like Greg Vital. He will make sure that this district is represented well.”
In his speech, Lee also stated that people are flocking to Tennessee. He said this is due to the high standards the state maintains in personal and religious liberty, safety, security, freedom and opportunity.
Because of men like Vital, Tennessee would remain stable even in these times of difficulty and uncertainty, the governor said.
Lee told the citizens of District 29 to vote for Vital in the general election — which occurred on Tuesday — to fill the seat previously held by Mike Carter, who passed away on May 15 due to pancreatic cancer. Carter is survived by his wife Joan, who has been holding his seat.
Also in attendance was Carter’s son, Stephen Carter, who said a few words in support of Vital.
“It was really hard losing my dad,” Carter said. “But all he would have wanted for this district is for it to remain in good hands. … I know the district will remain in good hands under Greg.”
Vital also took the platform. He thanked Lee, citizens of District 29 and the elected officials who supported him. Additionally, he made an appeal, encouraging those in attendance to cast their votes in his favor.
“I am honored to carry the flag of Mike Carter and Joan Carter in District 29 next Tuesday,” Vital said.
Toward the end of the conference, Lee spoke in remembrance of Carter.
“Mike Carter was a great man. We need to make sure that the person who sits in that seat after Joan is one that will represent your values and your principles and the things that are important to you,” he said.
Lee went on to say that America is not a land of the government, but a land of the people, and that is why Tennessee is the spectacular place that it is.