Asked about his opinion of the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential candidates, Brooks quipped, “I am running for president!”
After a few chuckles, Brooks attempted to reassure the questioner about GOP hopes this year. “We have some good candidates,” he said. “But we have to unite and work together.”
The question and response were a lighter moment to the Kiwanians’ weekly luncheon at the Mountain View Inn, as Brooks moved on to more serious comments. He was also asked about the state’s redistricting changes which, if enacted, will split Bradley County into two senatorial districts — the 9th and 10th districts. The proposal was unveiled last week.
“The maps are out and it would be very difficult to change the maps,” Brooks said. He added that redistricting will be one of the first topics for legislators when they return to Nashville.
The Cleveland representative was asked about his opinion of the early work of Gov. Bill Haslam. Brooks said the governor is focused on new and existing industry across Tennessee. He said he was pleased Haslam chose Whirlpool Cleveland Division as an example of the importance of existing industry in Tennessee.
The governor recently visited the new Whirlpool plant’s construction site on Benton Pike which local government leaders have considered the corporation’s commitment to staying in Cleveland and Bradley County.
On a personal note, Brooks emphasized the state’s new governor has children in school and recognizes the importance of education. He said he was impressed on Christmas Day when the governor texted him a message wishing the Brooks family a merry Christmas.
Asked about the new Silver Alert Program which the state has endorsed, Brooks said it was one of the more important pieces of legislation of the recent session. He explained that the Silver Alert Program is like the Amber Alert Program for children, but for senior citizens.
Brooks was also asked about the Exit 20 exchange on Interstate 75 in southern Bradley County. “There’s going to be some big announcements in March, regarding the interchange and changes to the interstate, that we’re very happy for,” he said.
The state legislator was introduced by Kiwanis program chairman Traci Hamilton. She mentioned the many responsibilities he has held in the Legislature, and added Brooks also has “a job” in communications and public relations at the Church of God International Offices.
The Tennessee House member passed out a 15-page summary of the Legislature’s “history-making” year, which lists what he considers as the major accomplishments during the session.
He said the General Assembly was focused on passing common sense initiatives to aid both immediate and long-term economic development in Tennessee’s private sector. Brooks added many of the measures were to ensure employers find Tennessee an attractive destination for commerce.
The summary also noted the “fiscally conservative balanced budget,” “common sense education reform,” protection of teachers’ pay, welcoming more top companies to Tennessee, the Jobs4TN Plan, tort reform, protection for Tennessee workers, fighting back against Washington growth and spending, ensuring pro-life measures, taking a strong stand against illegal immigration, increasing transparency of government, cracking down on crime, approving the Judicial Accountability Measure, and approval of the Voter Photo ID requirement.
Brooks praised the Kiwanis Club and all its projects during the year. “I feel I mirror what you do (in trying to help people),” he said. “It’s a thrill to go to Nashville and say I represent Cleveland.”
“Almost every day I’m in Nashville, someone says ‘I love Cleveland,’” he said. “So many people say, ‘I love where you’re from,’” the state representative added.
Brooks said he loves to visit schools and talk to the students. At a recent visit with some fifth-graders, he said he was asked what a representative does. After thinking a moment he answered that he was like a postman. “I get to carry the mail from Nashville to their parents. Sometimes I get to bring some (mail) home ... in the form of grants.”
The 24th Legislative District lawmaker said the Legislature accomplished a lot last year, but it could be an even busier year ahead. “Sadly, before we even get there (to Nashville), we’re talking about budget cuts,” he said.
Brooks said he wanted to serve on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee this year because of the needs in Cleveland and Bradley County concerning Exit 20, roads and bridges. Instead, he has been named to the Finance Committee. “Instead of helping to attain these transportation needs, I get to help pay for them,” he said.
“You’re going to hear a lot about education (this year) and I was glad to see that the governor wants to review the teachers’ evaluation process,” Brooks said. He added, “We’ve done a great deal with education reform.”
The state representative closed by saying, “It’s a great time to be in the House of Representatives. This is a very critical (and important) moment. It’s exciting to be right here, on this precipice.”
Brooks made a plea to his constituents in Cleveland to continue to contact him. “It’s very important,” he said. “Hearing from you is my ‘marching orders.’ I can’t do my job effectively unless I hear from your.
“I want you to let me know how I can help and how I can be of service,” he continued. “I just love helping people.”
Other Kiwanis news:
n Kay Smith said volunteers from the club are needed as judges for the annual 4-H speech competition. The event is scheduled for consecutive Fridays (Jan. 20 and Jan. 27) at Cleveland State Community College.
n June Montgomery was inducted as a new Kiwanis member at Thursday’s luncheon. Montgomery works with the Family Resource Center.
n Club president Leigh Ann Boyd announced two businesses have removed their Kiwanis gumball machines, leaving openings for the coming year. Kiwanis’ Foundation receives a portion of the sales from area gumball machines The club will be taking applications for replacement businesses.