The consequences have sometimes been negative, he said, such as when standing up to a bully at Chattanooga Central High School, got him kicked out of school. However, others led him into politics.
Gardenhire’s first political experience came at Cleveland State Community College.
“There was an anti-war demonstration,” Gardenhire said. “I was paying my way through school. I didn’t like the idea of someone telling me I couldn’t go into class and take a test.”
He walked into the biology building despite demonstrators blocking the way.
This led him to become a member of the Young Americans for Freedom organization. He went on to serve on the group’s national board.
“That sort of gave me my first political involvement, my political philosophy and how I view things about life,” Gardenhire said.
“You have to look at everything in life as what is going to be the unintended consequences of your actions and everybody’s actions,” he said.
It was connections through the Young Americans for Freedom that got him more involved in politics.
“Later through those same contacts people in The White House under President Reagan encouraged me to accept an appointment to the Department of Labor Advisory Council,” Gardenhire said.
He accepted the position.
Later he worked on the advance teams for both the president and first lady.
Under George W. Bush, Gardenhire was again appointed to the Department of Labor Advisory Council.
He has three children and four grandchildren.
Gardenhire said he had chosen to run for a state office rather than a national one because he wanted to stay close to his family. The senatorial candidate said healthcare and education are the two most important issues facing the state today.
Seeing a trade high school when he was in school has given him a desire to see a trade school re-established in the area.
“A true trade school for kids from the inner city ... a trade school that we could train these young people that they could get the jobs, so that when the Volkswagens and Wackers come to town they don’t have to go outside the community,” Gardenhire said.