Despite being neither a Democrat nor a Republican — caught somewhere in a political no-man’s land, it would seem — former Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams doesn’t seem particularly frustrated or worried.
Or at least he didn’t seem so on Saturday. In fact, he’s “pretty excited” about the future and a lot of what he heard in Gov. Bill Haslam’s remarks immediately after taking the oath of office on the steps of the State Capitol.
“My general impression would be that I like what he said about investing in our workforce and education,” said last session’s House gavel-handler, who was replaced by Nashville Republican Beth Harwell earlier in the week. “It’s pretty much along the same lines as Gov. Bredesen.”
Williams said he expects Haslam “will bring to the table his experience in developing business.” The independent from Carter County added that going forward he doesn’t expect a lot of extreme divergence out of the new administration from the previous administration’s core philosophies and front-burner concerns.
“I look for us to follow the path that we are on now with our education system and the strides we have made in education and health care over the last four years,” said Williams.
He also said he hears in Haslam’s economic development pledges a commitment to boosting job growth through employment training in rural areas — an idea that Williams said is likely going to go over well among his Northeast Tennessee constituents.
In Williams’ view, Haslam could do a whole lot worse — indeed, perhaps not much better — than following the cues of his predecessor on the whole gamut of policies, problems and issues that might come across the governor’s desk in the next four years.
“I think the Bredesen administration will go down in history as being one of the greatest administrations ever in the state of Tennessee,” said Williams. “I think he has put us on a path which we could follow for many years to come.”