Bennett announces candidacy for office
Messenger Staff Reporter
Larry Bennett of Cat Corner community has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for State Representative, House District 77.
“I’m new in politics, but I’m not new at people,” said Bennett, 67.
The 77th District is comprised of Obion and Lake counties and a portion of Dyer County. Bennett seeks to succeed incumbent Democrat Phillip Pinion, who has chosen not to run for reelection.
This race is Bennett’s first time to run for public office. “I’m guess I’m a born politician,” he said. “I love people. We live in the greatest country on earth, and this three-county area has some of the finest people you’ll ever meet.”
A farmer of many years — “all my life” — he works about 1,500 acres that produce corn, soybeans and winter wheat each year. For almost 30 years, he and his late brother, Joe, were partners in Bennett’s Tool & Die, located in Dyersburg. They sold the business in the late 1990s.
Bennett’s community service includes membership on the Elbridge Water Association board of directors; member of Tennessee Soybean Association; member of Farm Bureau; and member of Bogota Community Center board of directors.
He has found time to serve as director of the “Never Ready for Prime Time Players,” an amateur theater group whose mission is to raise funds for nonprofit organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the March of Dimes and Dyer County Project Graduation.
“My philosophy of life is, ‘Help people who need help.’ That’s why we’ve done this show 30 years and raised over a half million dollars,” he said. “Every penny went to help kids or help somebody suffering with cancer. The Lord has blessed me so much, and I want to give back. I want to do it the right way.”
Bennett was one of nine children — eight boys, one girl — born to the late Ila and Carl Bennett of Bogota. Five have died.
“My daddy was a sharecropper. I was raised in the cotton field,” Bennett said. “I was raised to work, so I know what it is to work. We always had a big garden, raised most all our food. We had milk cows and hogs, of course. You didn’t buy many groceries back then.”
Bennett attended the former Newbern High School and Newbern Trade School and served two years — 1963-64 — in the U.S. Army as a military policeman. While in military service, he earned a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) and was later awarded a formal diploma from Newbern High School.
“Let me tell you something about my time in the Army,” he said. “We were trained in riot control. I was with the first troops sent to Ole Miss in 1962 when James Meredith enrolled there. I stayed there about three months.”
One of his four brothers who also served in the U.S. Army was a World War II veteran; one was a Korean War veteran.
Bennett is married to the former Mary Williams of Lake County. They have a daughter, Andrea (Bennett) Black of Alamo, and a son, Carlton, who lives in Nashville.
Mrs. Bennett is the daughter of the late Ludie Williams and Albert Williams of Ridgely. She was one of five children — four girls, one boy — born to the Williams. Four survive.
Mrs. Bennett said she fully supports her husband’s decision to run for state representative. “I have a wonderful husband. He’s a real good Christian. He raises money for charity purposes. I fully support him in this campaign. I’ll love him even if he loses,” she said.
“We’ve done well. Worked hard. We’ve lived in this community 36 years, and we look forward to many more. Somebody told Larry the other day he didn’t need to find someone to be his campaign manager, that he had me, and I was the best he could ever find. Well, it’s true that I’m outgoing.”
“I’m new in politics. I’ve got to learn it,” Bennett said. “So I’ll be out campaigning. I’ve already been out to some. I want to stick out my hand and say, ‘Hello. My name’s Larry Bennett, and I’d like to be your state representative, and I’ll do the right thing.’
“That’s what I tell ’em.”
“I don’t have anything to gain by going into politics, as far as power,” Bennett said. “I just want to help and do the right thing, whatever the people want. Like I said, I’m learning. We in the 77th District and Tennesseans across the state are concerned about education, good roads, economic development. I want to work for the people and represent their interests in the General Assembly. I will do the best I can and I will do what’s right.
“I therefore ask for your support.”
Published in The Messenger 4.25.08