Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) rebutted claims by Cleveland, Tenn. attorney Jim Bilbo that splitting Bradley County between an eastwardly expanded 10th senatorial district and the 9th would weaken the county’s influence in Nashville. Bell cited his past House experience, when he served part of Monroe County, as evidence:
“Every time an issue came up with TDEC, TDOT or the County Commission passed a resolution, they had two representatives speaking for them in Nashville,” he said. “Anytime we had a meeting in Nashville, they had two representatives there.”
But is that assuming that their votes don’t cancel each other out? Say, for instance, that Sen. Andy Berke still held the 10th and Bell the 9th, and both represented Bradley. Well, look no further than Hamilton County, Bell says, which today is split between Berke, a Democrat, and Sen. Bo Watson, the Republican Speaker Pro Tempore.
“When it comes to local issues, economic issues or road issues, even Berke and Watson get along,” he said. “I’m sure they don’t agree a lot on political issues, but when it comes to local issues … when it comes to economic development issues, even Berke and Watson get along on those. It’s the political issues when you have people of different parties who might not get along.
In any case, despite Bilbo’s begging, it looks somewhat likely that Bradley County will have one senator representing its northern half, and another representing the southern.