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 Yomi Faparusi. 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 Yomi Faparusi
I am Yomi Faparusi (also known as Fapas) and I am running as an Independent for election to the U.S. Senate to represent Tennessee. I was raised on the campus of the University of Ibadan, in Nigeria. Through hard work and perseverance, I attended medical school and achieved a Doctorate from John Hopkins University. In addition, I also hold a Juris Doctorate.
The desire to give back to America and an enthusiasm for helping others achieve the American Dream have driven me to seek election to the U.S. Senate.
I am married to Yetunde and we have three sons-Laolu, Baba and Yomi Jr. I attend Fellowship Bible Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. I am an active community leader, mentor and small business owner in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Federation: Do you have a favorite public land in Tennessee? What do you enjoy doing there?
Faparusi: Big Hill Pond State Park
I enjoy viewing the Travis McNatt Lake, watching the waterfowl and meditating in the rather soothing atmosphere.
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.
- Invest in wildlife management to prevent endangered and threatened species
This captures the total essence of all the issues. It is like the foundation strategy to tackle the other issues here. Without making this top priority and buying into its solution, the other issues would be almost impossible to address.
- Strategic public lands growth and access for conservation and recreation
Since most of the land in Tennessee is privately held, it is necessary to to achieve STRATEGIC growth of public lands to hasten and improve the likelihood of conservation goals.
- Support for private land management for wildlife
Since most of the land in Tennessee is privately held, it is crucial to partner with private landowners to achieve any meaningful management of wildlife. The aim is have quasi public land management goals for wildlife
- Fund adequate responses to non-native invasive species, like Asian carp
Whereas the other issues can be somewhat seen as “passive economic losses”, this is an active economic loss because of the damage it does on property values.
- Implement high-impact aquatic habitat projects to improve our waters
The solution would have to through the state appropriation process. I rank it lower because the others could be achieved without much governmental involvement. This implies we can start addressing the issues the people can do first and those requiring governmental funds later.
- Federal funding and other support to combat Chronic Wasting Disease in deer
Federal funding and support require the most complex process. If elected as a Senator, I will fight for this funding using coalition building and working across the aisles.
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?
Faparusi: If elected, I will use my Independent status to forge relationships across the political aisle and leverage these personal relationships to increase awareness of the Asian carp invasion, in one-on-one conversations. This would make it easier for me to get the funding bill approved. I will also write an OpEd to create a national awareness on the issue.
I will increase the amount of funding and make it an annual funding.
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?
Faparusi: I will promote the conservation and preservation of our natural resources through growth of public lands and conservation of wildlife. As a believer in these goals, I intend to volunteer in the public outreach activities of conservation groups to learn from experts how I can do things better.
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?
Faparusi: I will be the advocate for achieving these objectives in the US Senate by securing federal funding, and participate in these programs to publicly show my total support of these programs.
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?
Faparusi: I will secure funding for programs and projects to decrease pollution (improved buffering), increase access to waterways and structural projects to improve the qualities of the water. I intend to have town halls regularly if elected and I will use these town halls to communicate with the public about this issue and how we could achieve healthy aquatic life.
Federation: What did we not ask you today that you’d tell Tennessee’s outdoor enthusiasts?
Faparusi: Growing up in Africa where conservation was not a priority, I was blessed to have a father who was particular about wildlife and nature. Back then, there was a culture of immediate gratification rather than long term planning. Today, there are still no enforceable laws or policies aimed at conservation. This is further exaggerated with the fact that meat from wild animals (called bush meat) is more expensive than street/market meat. Hence, there is a financial inducement to poach these animals while no one is thinking of extinction. Sadly, the natural habitats and forests are considered to be infinite and that has thrown many ecosystems into chaos with extinction of species. This is what made me a conservationist.