With the retirement of Senator Alexander, a race is on to become Tennessee’s next senator.
It’s up to sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts to let candidates know that the great outdoors is an important voting issue. So, Tennessee Wildlife Federation asked every candidate to share their views on conservation, and below are the responses we received.
Below are the views of candidate Aaron Pettigrew. All answers, information, and images are unedited and appear as they were provided by the campaign.
Primary voting ends August 6. Find your polling location here.
About Aaron Pettigrew
My name is Aaron Pettigrew and I am a proud Tennessean by choice. I am the blue collar Constitutional conservative in the race. I am a self-educated truck driver seeking to serve. Hunting, fishing, agriculture and camping are an integral part of who I am and how I grew up. Because of my career and other activities, I haven’t really been able to do them here in Tennessee but it is a part of life that I truly want to preserve for generations to come and it is a large part of what I love about Tennessee.
Federation: Do you have a favorite public land in Tennessee? What do you enjoy doing there?
Pettigrew: I haven’t been able to visit all the parks and public lands in Tennessee so picking a favorite would be disingenuous. I have enjoyed hiking in Natchez Trace and around Stones River. It’s been quite a while but loved Rock City and Ruby Falls. I have also enjoyed lounging Old Hickory Lake and Nickajack Lake sometimes even as a break from the 24 rest area on the side that allows trucks. No matter how the election goes, I will be getting back to fishing and hunting soon and I am the kind of man that eats what I hunt and catch.
Federation: There are a lot of issues facing our natural resources and the Tennesseans who depend on them for recreation and their livelihood. Please rank these issues in the order they are most important to you and please explain the reason for your number one pick.
- Fund adequate responses to non-native invasive species.
This is not only a Tennessee problem, it is National and is both affecting wildlife and plant life, in fact entire ecological systems. It is also a problem for agriculture industries too.
- Implement high-impact aquatic habitat projects to improve our waters.
Water ecology and sustainability is another key factor in living quality and economic activity.
- Federal funding and other support to combat Chronic Wasting Disease in deer.
Aside from natural harvesting, deer also play a vital role in Tennessee habitat.
- Strategic public lands growth and access for conservation and recreation.
While I do consider this important, it borders on the line between Federal and State Constitutional powers.
- Invest in wildlife management to protect endangered and threatened species.
Again, this borders on State and Federal powers but because ecological systems don’t follow map lines, there is some ground for Federal help.
- Support for private land management for wildlife.
This one can be difficult, given Constitutional Limits to both the Federal Government and State Constitution as well but I am willing to work with you and the State to determine what can be done and Constitutional as well.
Federation: Last fall, a Tennessee Wildlife Federation-led effort successfully secured $25 million of federal funding to fight Asian carp. It is a one-time appropriation that is split among several states. If you are elected, how would you support similar efforts? What you would do differently?
Pettigrew: As stated in the previous answer invasive species management is a National problem for natural harvesting and agriculture. Aside from funding concerns mentioned above, I will use the interim period between the general election and being sworn in to collect information from the State Department of Agriculture and Wildlife Management as well as private organizations related to both on this subject as a whole, including yours. While this question is about Asian Carp, the efforts and funding of any plan to address it must be done on a national scale to get the proper attention and funding it needs.
Federation: As a senator, what would you do for our natural resources, from public lands to wildlife and water, that are held in the public trust—that are collectively owned by all Americans?
Pettigrew: My primary efforts will be to develop and foster a better environment for Citizen involvement and to aid the efforts of organizations such as yours. The reason I say that is because the Federal Government can’t do it alone. The proper care of the environment is a responsibility of all of us as citizens, not just out of tax dollars.
Federation: Tennessee Wildlife Federation operates a number of programs to improve the great outdoors and Tennesseans’ lives, including habitat restoration work, Hunters for the Hungry, and even creating new sportsmen through Hunting and Fishing Academy. What support would you look to provide as a senator?
Pettigrew: Much like the answer above, most of my support would come in bringing attention to your efforts and helping them that way. Sometimes I could lead a park cleanup day and the like or publicly participate in those very programs, doing so as a sitting Senator will bringa lot more public attention to these needs than just as a trucker that cares. I do understand there is Federal assistance involved and for very good reasons which is why that would not be part of my efforts to come down hard on Federal spending but the truth is, increasing spending without direct actions like the Asian Carp issue can not be done without cutting more out of other spending too. I am more than happy to do a trade of 1.5 in cuts of other federal spending to get 1 spent on habitat and wildlife but you know as well as I do, getting cuts is harder than pulling teeth. The one common theme I have seen in politics is that everyone wants you to cut the budget except the oarts of it they benefit from. I will never talk to you or anyone else about support without acknowledging that simple fact. The truth is, I want to help but I won’t promise more than I can honestly deliver. I would rather under promise and over deliver.
Federation: A significant number of Tennessee streams, rivers, and lakes are unable to support healthy aquatic life. What would you do as Senator to heal this backbone of our environment and many local economies in the state?
Pettigrew: This one is more related to my answer of questions 2 and 3, healthy water ecology is a very important part of environmental health. Because of that, there is a Constitutional and National purpose that is warranted and can be supported by conservatives and liberals alike which is why I believe I can deliver on a promise to it. Again, the best way to do so is again to start with Tennessee Wildlife and Natural Resources as well as groups like yours, then work my way out from there to address it on the National scale. I can’t offer a direct plan for it without using that period between the election and being sworn in because each river and stream has it’s own problems and I would have to work with people that know them.
Federation: What did we not ask you today that you’d tell Tennessee’s outdoor enthusiasts?
Pettigrew: I may not have participated in outdoor life as much as I want to but I really do want that part of American culture to be available for generations to come. What it’s going to take is a Senator that really wants to do the work, especially if you want to honor the Constitution doing it. I am that man.
Every Tennessean is welcome to contact me directly. My cellphone number is (615) 869-8658 and I prefer texts to go to my tablet at (615) 713-8448. aaronpettigrewfortennessee.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.