Dr. Bryan Terry is running for State House Representative for District 48 (the seat soon to be vacated by Joe Carr). I have known Dr. Terry for several months and he has been kind enough to talk with me about his political positions and world view. I reached out to the other candidates in this race, asking them to take part in my questionnaire. They ignored me. Dr. Terry on the other hand, took the time to give detailed answers and explanations to my questions. I would like to share those answers with you and broaden the scope of this article to dive more into his views and the method he uses to come to his conclusions.
A Quick Bio
Dr. Terry was born in Oklahoma and is a member of the Choctaw Nation. His family has been in the farming and auto-salvage for generations and Dr. Terry spent much of his youth working for his family business. He began to study medicine and as a medical intern in 1995, he was actually working in the local ER during the horrific Oklahoma City Bombing, which killed 168 and injured nearly 700, and helped to treat many of the casualties.
He has been married to his wife, Cheryl, for 21 years and has two children, Brayden and Breeley. Dr. Terry has lived in the area for 16 years and is a license anesthesiologists working at MTMC; as such, he would be the only doctor serving in the State House if elected.
Dr. Terry takes great pains to think about problems and to find the best solutions to apply. He is required to be methodical in his profession (lives really are on the line), but beyond that, the way he thinks is truly a part who he is, not just something he learned. He takes the time to study an issue and to arrive at a solution based on evidence and reality. While you may or may not agree with his ideas, there can be no doubt that his conclusions are sound, and not merely the product of knee-jerk reactions or towing a particular line just to get elected.
Two questions I asked him relating to why he decided to and his background were:
Why run for office?
I know that my parents worked long and hard in the auto salvage business to see that I would have better opportunities than them, and I did. However, over the years, I have seen the political establishment from both parties make things worse all in the name of helping.
For me, my passion is my children and their generation. I go to work every day with my children on my mind looking to give them a better life. I will continue working as a physician to do just that, but if I don’t work just as hard for the values, liberties and ideals that we value, then I am not doing all that I can.
What sets you apart from other candidates?
I have a very unique background compared to a lot of people either in office or running for office. My grandparents, parents and I all worked in our auto salvage. Because of my severe asthma and allergies, I took personal responsibility to heart, and worked to become a physician.
Additionally, having been involved with patient care following the domestic terrorist bombing of the Murrah Building (Oklahoma City) and having a family farm destroyed by a tornado are two heartbreaking, yet spiritually growing opportunities that, to my knowledge, are unique to me. I think that these experiences, as well as my background, provide me with a real world foundation that when combined with my principles, process, and passion will allow me to reach out in a manner that speaks to the constituents, as well as, be able to carry a message for the district.
Before I get into specific issues, I want to explain the principles and process he uses when determining a solution or position. For me, if you can't explain why you came to a conclusion, or you can't defend your ideas with anything more than "because", then you're just an ideologue (basically, towing the party line without question).
Dr. Terry's three main principles are 1) Do no harm; 2) Is it Constitutional; and 3) Is it right?
He believes it is very important to not just legislate because you "think" something is right, but because you truly believe it is right, based on the Constitution, and doesn't harm the inherent rights of other people.
To come up with the best course of action, his process involves the need to answer these four questions:
1. What is the problem?
2. What goal are we trying to accomplish?
3. What options do we have to achieve that goal?
4. How feasible are each of the options?
According to Dr. Terry, "I believe that my principles and my logical process for dealing with issues combined with my passion will not only lead me to the correct decisions, but provide me with the tools to work with legislators and constituents in order to find solutions that work best for Tennesseans."
Here are his views on some issues that few other candidates are addressing (based on my questionnaire). For other issues like gun rights and taxes, please visit his website.
TCA-5-8-301 allows for local governments to invest surplus revenue. In the case of Rutherford County, this money amounts to well over $10 million and earns fractions of a percent in interest. All the while, the County pays multiple percentage points in interest payments on the debt. Moreover the maturity date for the investments don't coincide with the budgeting process, effectively making this ever growing pile of money impossible to use. Statewide, similar examples can be found and the total amount of invested money is in excess of $1 billion. Governments should not tax us only to perpetually invest the money while raising taxes. I asked Dr. Terry his thoughts on changing the law to make it easier for local governments to withdraw these funds in lieu of raising taxes.
- The premise of the question is that Rutherford County invests funds in low interest vehicles that could or should be used in the budgeting process; yet barriers exist in accessing these funds. Thus, local governments are raising taxes as opposed to using the invested funds. As with any bill, I would have to sit down and look at it through a process that determines possible consequences of any action or inaction. On the surface, though, the analogy is one of an individual investing in a low yield CD for a year. Then that same individual uses a high interest credit card to purchase certain items instead of accessing the money tied up in the CD. Assuming that is the case, I would definitely think that we should look at solutions that would rectify that situation.
His views on the role of Federal & State governments:
- I believe that Tennessee is one of fifty sovereign states as opposed to one of fifty federal districts. As the Tenth Amendment reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.” I believe in the individual, in personal responsibility and in the creativity and productivity that goes along with competition. The further you get away from that, the more group think you get and the less individuality and creative spirit you achieve.
- I like to draw the simple analogy of the relationship of the states and federal government to that of schools. Within schools, you have cliques, clubs and individuals. The school should protect the individual rights and clubs, and encourage innovation; yet, provide for a safe environment. However, the school shouldn't be in the business of requiring everyone to conform to one club or clique.
How does Obamacare affect local doctors and what are some steps, if any, Tennessee could take to mitigate those problems?
- I refer to Obamacare and other regulatory burdens placed on the medical field as the “Headache to Health Care Imbalance”. As the government intrudes more and more in the patient-physician relationship, there are more speed bumps to health care. Doctors are spending more time and money dealing with issues that are not direct patient care. So, doctors have more headaches to deal with in order to deliver health care. Patients, on the other side, are going to have less access and less time face to face with a physician. Patients will see their headaches to health care ratio rise.
- The first step for Tennesseans is understanding that the patient-physician relationship is the cornerstone of health care and we must work to remove barriers to that relationship. Another step would be to help elect candidates at the local, state and federal level that will work to mend our broken system. On a local level, St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital will be starting residency programs in Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine. This is a huge step in helping patients in Rutherford county deal with health care access issues.
If you could pick one single and specific issue that you would most want to accomplish, what would it be?
- For me, there are several issues or causes that I would like to address, but the goal I most hope to accomplish is self governance. I see and hear the frustration from voters with the political process and with politicians. People are sick and tired of good old boy politics. People are tired of elected officials abusing their power. There is a lot of disappointment with elected officials and it leads to apathy and a sense of helplessness on the part of voters.
The 48th district has a population of over 75,000. If elected, how do you plan on staying in touch with your constituents?
- With the advent of social media, I think that it is getting easier and easier to reach constituents. I get weekly and sometimes daily updates from Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn and Joe Carr. Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan does a fantastic job of reaching constituents using social media including providing updates and reasons for how he voted. There is software that will allow elected officials interact with their constituents. I would explore the option of using that kind of software to interact with constituents.
- To my knowledge, I am the only candidate that has given out my personal cell phone number. I am available to talk right now. As well as holding an open house, I have frequently held “Tuesday’s with Dr. Terry” at a local restaurant and talked to many constituents. If elected, I would plan to either attend or hold many events for constituents to come and talk to me.
Campaign contact info:
Campaign website: www.TerryFor48.com
Contact E-mail: TerryFor48@gmail.com
Phone number: 615-801-2999
Facebook page: Dr. Bryan Terry