Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, candidate for state governor, met with a group of Democrats in Chattanooga Thursday. (Photo: Staff)

 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean, former mayor of Nashville, stopped in Chattanooga Thursday and talked with local members of his party.

“There are a lot of things you’ve got to do in a campaign in terms of organization and fundraising, but listening to people, hearing their ideas [and] hearing their thoughts is key,” Dean said after meeting with about a dozen local residents at The Camp House. “I think people want to meet the candidate … You’ve got to go out and make that effort.”

So far, after getting into the race in March, Dean has visited 52 of the state’s 95 counties, he said.

Dean talked with students and local Democrats about issues ranging from health care to school vouchers—which he opposes—from transportation infrastructure to taxes.

He noted that a recent Vanderbilt University study found that the most important issue for Tennesseans is health care, and he said his anecdotal experience bears that out.

Voters have also told Dean that the “opioid crisis,” state parks and workforce development are important to them.

Dean said there’s a need to “restore the balance to politics” and refocus on what can be done to improve the state.

And he has the experience to help do that, he said.

“I’m a pragmatic person who has executive experience being mayor of Nashville for two terms, and I want to focus on doing things to move this state forward—and the things that matter to me are public education, economic opportunity and health care,” he said.

Between mid-March and the end of June, Dean’s campaign raised more than $1.2 million.

Six Republicans—Mae Beavers, Beth Harwell, Kay WhiteRandy Boyd, Diane Black and Bill Lee—are also in the 2018 race for governor.