Rick Trent, a second-term Morristown city councilman and real estate investor, is the Democratic nominee for the open 1st Congressional District seat.Trent
, 38, and his
wife, Lisa, have three children.He is a member of First Baptist Church in Morristown.
"I have lived in Tennessee my entire life, and graduated from Morristown West High School
said."While working in a factory for 10 years, I attended Tennessee Technology Center for Computer Technology, which gave me the knowledge to open two computer stores."Trent
said, "With the money generated by these businesses, I began investing in real estate and have prospered through hard work, sound business decisions, and the wise counsel of family and associates in our community."Trent
now owns 86 rental apartments, about 20 rental houses, and a small used-car lot in Morristown.
In an effort to help readers and voters know more about the candidates and their views, The Greeneville Sun
sent questionnaires to the candidates in this year's Republican and Democratic primary elections and published their answers.
In preparation for the general election, the Sun provided the opportunity for the primary election winners to update their answers to the survey questions, and interviewed Trent
Republican opponent, state Rep.
...Trent: "To give back to my community for the blessings it has given me. In discussion with my brother, who is a teacher, we've talked about the need for honest people to serve in Washington.
We spoke about the need for people who will stand up against the lobbyists.Then he
said, ‘Why don't you run?'"Trent
said, "If I could have encouraged my brother to run, I would have," even though his
brother is a Republican.He
himself has sometimes voted Republican in local races, when he
felt the GOP had the better candidate.Trent
said the main reason he
decided to run for Congress was that he
became "so aggravated by politicians being sold out by lobbyists."
What strengths would you bring to this office, if elected?What in your background would you like voters to consider when making their choice in this election?Trent
: "Hard work and an abundance of blessings have brought prosperity and happiness to my family.
...As a city councilman, Trent said he worked to influence Colgate Palmolive to locate a factory in Morristown, and voted to give the company a six-year tax break and free land, because of the jobs involved.
"You've got to invest a little bit, to get a lot," he
said.Trent said he is also an active board member of Keep Hamblen Beautiful, a litter reduction campaign.
Illegal immigration concerns many Americans.If you are elected, what approach to the illegal immigration issue could Tennessee voters expect you to take?Please explain what principles guide your thinking on this subject.Trent
: "I believe if you are here illegally, you are breaking the law.
would have "definitely" voted against building a fence along the border.
"That's a waste of money.What good is a fence with no manpower to watch it?"Trent
believes it would be more useful, and less costly than building a fence, to cut off benefits to illegal immigrants, to "deter people from coming here."
At the same time, he
said, it needs to be easier for immigrants to become U.S. citizens.But he
said that process should involve registering with and being fingerprinted by local law enforcement officials, to make sure that no criminals are allowed to become citizens.
Do you believe that English should be the official language of the United States?Trent
American troops are widely deployed around the world, and engaged in armed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.Please explain your viewpoint on the "War on Terror" in general, and President Bush's policy on it.If you think the U.S. should be doing something different from what we are doing, please explain what you think should be done at this time.Trent
: "First, I think we need to start by securing our own borders.
In the interview, Trent
believes the United States needs to invest more in its special operations forces, to better support them.He
said that U.S. forces should "hit hard, quick, and get out" of Iraq as soon as possible.But he
said that, although he
is "for a timeline" for troop withdrawals as a goal, "it shouldn't be mandatory," and perhaps should not be made public right away.
said, the timeline should be communicated to "the government we have set up" in Iraq.He
also said that, although more scrutiny of the conflict in Iraq is warranted, that does not mean that the news media "needs to know everything that's going on."Trent
is very concerned with "the U.S. borrowing money from China to fight the war."Asked what he
meant by that, he
means that the Chinese have invested heavily in U.S. bonds.He
also believes the U.S. should be making more use of robot technology in Iraq, to reduce the need to be putting soldiers at risk.
"We're really missing out on military technology," he
Please explain your viewpoint on abortion and how you would approach abortion-related issues if they should come up in Congress.Trent
: "I personally do not believe in abortion.However, I believe it is the woman's choice."
Asked to expand on that, he
would permit abortions in cases of rape, incest, and when necessary to save the life of the mother.However, he
repeated that, while "I am not for abortion, period, I cannot vote to take that away."
would not vote for federal funding of abortion, and would have voted to "outlaw" partial-birth abortions.
What is your view concerning the use of embryonic stem cells in research?Trent
: "I do believe in using the umbilical cord to further medical research.
: "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.I do not believe this should be amended to the U.S. Constitution.I think that should be left up to the state level." Trent
added that he
would support the concept of "civil unions," whether they involve "gay or straight couples."
"If employers need it, I'm for that," he
also said that, while he
does not favor a constitutional change prohibiting gay marriage, "We need to change judges who interpret the Constitution wrong."
What is your view concerning proposals to make sexual orientation a protected status under federal law, similar to such categories as gender, race, age, religion, and national origin?Trent
: "I believe all discrimination is wrong, and it should be protected under federal law."
However, when asked, if, for example, an elderly couple should be required to rent the other side of their duplex to someone whose gay lifestyle is offensive to them on religious grounds, or whether religious organizations that believe homosexuality is wrong should be required not to reject job applicants who are homosexual, Trent
statement slightly. He
said that, in general, he
believes "the government shouldn't oppose religious beliefs."He
also said he
opposes "sexual lifestyle advocacy in schools."
Do you support the custom in Congress under which congressmen and senators can "earmark" the federal budget, to add projects of interest to them?Why or why not?Trent
: "I do not support this custom.When special interest projects are thrown in at the last minute, this does not give the Representative or his
staff time to do proper research.Ultimately this will lead to an even larger deficit."
What do you believe should be done to protect the future stability of the Social Security System?Trent
: "I do not believe Social Security should be invested into an unstable stock market.This seems to be a way for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.
"As people are living longer and healthier lives, they may choose to work longer.With the right people in Congress, we can work to ensure the stability of Social Security for the present and in the future."
Asked to elaborate, Trent
said reform of Social Security is needed.He
said Congress should not be allowed to borrow from Social Security funds.
"If we don't quit borrowing from (Social Security), it's not going to be here," he
also said that, although he
is capable of making a "wise" investment in the stock market, he
has also made bad ones, and putting Social Security funds in the market seems too risky.
If the funds were lost on a bad investment, "then me and you would have to pick up the difference."