Skip to content

Kirkland: I will represent constituents’ values

Kirkland: I will represent constituents’ values

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 9:02 pm
By: Glenda H. Caudle Special Features Editor

 By GLENDA CAUDLE Special Features Editor Obion County was his home address for the first 38 years of Dr. Ron Kirkland’s life. The Jackson ear, nose and throat physician, and the most recently announced Republican candidate for the Eighth District seat being vacated by Union City Congressman John Tanner this year, remembers his first home as a small house on South Sixth Street in Union City. He grew up in this community that can boast of the late Robert A. “Fats” Everett as yet another congressman and graduated from Union City High School in 1962. Kirkland, whose parents were the late Hayden Kirkland and the late Sadie Kirkland, claimed his degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1970 while serving his country in Vietnam. When he returned to the states, it was to work in the family business and then enter medical school in Memphis, but he still considered Union City “home.” He even married a young lady newly-arrived in this area — Carol Glasgow, the daughter of Jo Glasgow of Union City and the late James Glasgow — in 1968. He still listed this northwest Tennessee town as home while he attended medical school at UT Mem-phis, where he graduated in 1977 and completed his residency in 1982. During the next two years he honed his skills at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and at Methodist Hospital in Memphis. He then accepted a call to move to Jackson to join the Jackson Clinic. It is from that Jackson home base that Kirkland is launching his campaign. His first goal is to claim the Republican primary victory in August. Then he plans to defeat a Democrat and become the first GOP congressman from the Eighth District. “I want to represent the citizens of the Eighth District the best I can and to represent all citizens of our United States,” Kirkland said Friday as he visited old friends in Obion County to enlist their support in his cause. “I have no personal agenda, no legacy to create. I will do everything in my power to remain the same the person I am today,” Kirkland is in his first run for political office; nevertheless, he brings a wide array of practical experience for dealing with problems facing the nation. With the country focused on healthcare, the unique perspective of a physician is not to be “sneezed” at. In addition, Kirkland has been chairman of the board of the Jackson Clinic, with 120 physicians on staff, and has served as chairman of the board of the American Medical Group Association. The latter has given him a view of healthcare policy at the national level that few in government can claim. He has also worked in retail and been involved in management roles through his family’s ownership of the former Ben Kirkland store in Union City and has earned his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, graduating this past December. His experience as a Vietnam veteran has solidified his determination that the country must provide a strong national defense and be willing to recognize and to combat terrorism. Kirkland decided to enter the political arena immediately following Tanner’s announcement that he would retire at the close of this congressional season. “I have never been more concerned than I am today. When I heard John (Tanner) was retiring, I didn’t see anyone in the race who could do the job as well as I can. We don’t want a liberal Democrat in Congress and I can represent Obion County and the Eighth Congressional District better than any other candidate.” He has filed the necessary forms declaring his intent and has hired a general consultant from Atlanta with experience in “fighting hard and fighting fair” — the style he wants for his campaign. In addition to fund raising, he is working at fleshing out his campaign staff. His Web site, VoteKirkland.com, is up and running and will be improved in the days to come, the candidate says. Supporters may donate to his campaign there or mail donations to Kirkland for Congress, P.O. Box 11235, Jackson, TN 38308. On the issues “I would like to see an expansion of the private side of healthcare rather than the government side. In Australia, the government subsidizes healthcare premiums for those who cannot pay. If we went to that model, needy American citizens could take that subsidy and add their own money to buy into private health insurance plans, so they have a seat at the table like everyone else. There are a lot of good things the government could do, such as standardizing the forms healthcare providers use to request reimbursement from insurance companies. I personally think the concept of not allowing preexisting conditions to affect coverage is a good thing, but the country needs to understand that if changes like this become a requirement, the cost of healthcare premiums will have to go up. “I think premiums are going up now not because of problems on the private side but because the government pays less and less on the public side. As our government pays less, the cost of care to privately insured patients must go up to cover the government shortfall. The insurance companies are not necessarily the bad guys they are being painted to be. They are businesses and they need to be regulated and need to be responsible to their stockholders, as well as the patients. If we have true competition, there will be reasonable returns for stockholders and reasonable prices for patients. “The current system of treating people through emergency rooms is the most expensive way to deliver care. If we could provide primary care for people in a cost-effective way with minimal government interference, we could reduce costs and, at the same time, improve quality.” On the issue of illegal immigration, Kirkland says, “This country was founded by legal immigrants and their families. That’s where most of us came from. So I’m in favor of legal immigration, but I am opposed to our porous borders that allow illegals in. That’s a national security issue. We are under threat of attack from a variety of groups that can infiltrate our country easily, so our borders need to be more secure.” Energy issues earn this assessment from the candidate: “We need to return to being self-sufficient in energy. We need to open up opportunities to drill for oil and gas and mine for coal right here in this country. I am very supportive of energy from wind and solar sources, but I don’t think these resources can make a significant dent in our energy needs. Agricultural sources of fuel, such as ethanol from corn and switch grass, will help us in the short run, but our long-term needs will have to be met by some combination of increasing fossil fuel consumption and nuclear power. Fundamentally, we must encourage the same innovation that has made our American economy great. For example, power plants can provide the power needed to charge up battery-powered cars.” With unemployment lines swollen despite the promises of the current administration, Kirkland sees the solution to the nation’s workforce woes as incentivizing private enterprise, because he believes small businesses can most quickly provide the jobs necessary to spur recovery in the nation’s economy. “Remember that every government job has to be paid for by extracting more taxes from working Americans, and we are past our limit on taxes,” he says. “Even in the current healthcare bill, there are economic penalties for small business and these taxes suppress the innovation that fuels our economic engine of free enterprise.” He is a supporter of term limits, believing 12 years should be sufficient for house and senate members. Personally speaking Kirkland and his wife are the parents of four adult children: Arthur Kirkland, who lives in Knoxville; William Kirkland of Nashville; James Kirkland from Jackson; and Frances Kirkland, whose home is Memphis. They also have three grandchildren. While many of the candidate’s commitments and activities have been curtailed by the necessity to devote time to the campaign, he is still a deacon at First Baptist Church in Jackson and serves on committees there. Kirkland is approaching the campaign with the same excitement, determination and sense of service he has brought to so many other life adventures he and his wife have enjoyed, but he also has a fine appreciation of the goal he wants to achieve: representing the values of the people from the Eighth District. “This will be public service. It’s not an honor or a title to wear. It’s not about becoming a member of some royal society. Those fortunate enough to get elected to Congress need to remember they are servants. Congressmen need to come home to the districts they serve and then return to Washington and represent the values they have experienced at home. That’s what I will do.” Published in The Messenger 1.19.10

Leave a Comment