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Tennessee Voices: JB Smiley, Democratic candidate for governor – Tennessean


The Tennessee Voices podcast brings readers conversations with authors of insightful and compelling guest columns.

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  • David Plazas is the director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY Network Tennessee.

A college basketball athlete and attorney, JB Smiley today is also an elected member of the Memphis City Council and he seeks the highest office in the state.

Smiley is running for the Democratic nomination for Tennessee governor, and he said his experience working with diverse communities — Republicans and Democrats and affluent and low-income residents alike — shows he can develop common ground to solve problems affecting residents across the state.

On this episode of the Tennessee Voices video podcast, Smiley spoke about how his campaign has allowed him to connect with residents living in all different sets of circumstances.

He recounted speaking to an audience in a rural county. When he talked about poverty in Shelby County, an audience member explained to him how poverty affected her community in different ways. It opened his eyes to wanting to “raise the floor” for better outcomes for all Tennesseans.

Smiley talked about his philosophy about putting service over self, and we touched on several issues, including health care. Tennessee is one the few U.S. states that has not expanded Medicaid to insure working poor citizens. Even if that ever happens, he elaborated on how, though it is an important start, more must be done to serve people’s health needs,

More: Replay: Governor and congressional candidate forum at University of Tennessee Martin

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About Tennessee Voices

The Tennessee Voices videocast is a 20-minute program, which started in March 2020 and invites leaders, thinkers and innovators who have written guest columns for a USA TODAY Network Tennessee publication to share their insights and wisdom with me and our viewers.

Please email your ideas for future guests to me at [email protected]. Thank you for watching.

Finally, our journalists are working hard during this pandemic to bring you accurate, verified and solid information. Please consider subscribing and supporting local journalism. 

Watch past episodes: Tennessee Voices videocast

David Plazas is the director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY Network Tennessee and an editorial board member of The Tennessean. Tweet to him at @davidplazas. 

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