Cookeville Herald-Citizen: Congressional candidates share views at Cookeville forum

Three of the five candidates seeking the Republican nomination to fill the 6th District Congressional detailed their positions on a variety of issues at a forum in Cookeville Thursday evening — ranging from immigration to taxes to "the infiltration of Islam" in the country.

Bob Corlew, Judd Matheny and Lavern "U-Turn LaVern" Vivio spoke at a gathering of the District 6 Patriots group.

"Like everybody else up here, I'm a conservative," said Vivio, whose nickname came from her broadcasting career as a traffic reporter in Nashville. "I'm going to check all the boxes of the conservative platform."

Vivio said that platform included being pro-life, upholding the Second Amendment and supporting the need to control the border.

"We're all going to say exactly what you want to hear (and) what you need to hear to know that we're conservatives," she said, urging those in attendance to do their own homework on the candidates.

Corlew, a retired judge, also described himself as "the conservative candidate," adding that his concerns include the national debt and the need to better secure the border.

"Why shouldn't we have a strong border?" he asked. "This is the border with the most important country in the world. We need a strong border not only to prevent illegal immigration but frankly because of the drug issues. So many of our criminal cases today are related to drugs."

He said he was the only candidate to sign a pledge to eliminate "death taxes" and "do my best to balance our budget."

"I want to go to Washington, not to talk about these issues, but so that I can do things about these issues," he said. "We have too many people in Washington who, sadly, are doing too much talking and not enough acting."

Matheny, a former Putnam County law enforcement officer and current state representative from Tullahoma, touted his record on conservative causes.

"You're looking at the man that leads the Republican caucus in the Tennessee House," he said. "I, along with 68 of my colleagues stopped Nashville from becoming a sanctuary city last year."

Matheny said he also stopped Common Core in Tennessee and led the fight against increasing the gas tax.

"It's ludicrous to think that you can call yourself a Republican and push an agenda like that," he said. 

The three candidates generally agreed on most of the issues that were brought up by audience members, including what they said was the danger posed by the spread of Islam in the United States.

"Are you aware of this over-abiding threat to our country?" asked Cookeville resident John Boggs.

"(It's) something that I know all too well," said Matheny. "For about 10 years, I've been confronting this directly. It is up to us to stop Islam. You can't trust them, you can't negotiate with them."

"This is a battle we're very, very unwise to ignore," said Vivio. "Why do we let people in our country that hate us? We have to have radical immigration reform."

Corlew said, "What is important is that we all recognize that ... the only true religion is Christianity. One of the planks that I have in my platform (is) restoring Christian values and Christian principles into our government."

Voters in the Republican and Democratic primaries will choose their nominees Aug. 2.

Other Republican candidates in the 6th Congressional District include Christopher Brian Monday of Cookeville and John Rose of Cookeville. Democratic candidates for that seat are Dawn Barlow of Rickman, Christopher Martin Finley of Nashville, Peter Heffernan of Gallatin and Merrilee Wineinger of Hendersonville. Independent candidates are Lloyd Dunn of Portland and David Ross of White House.