Interview with Dr. Steve Dickerson, GOP candidate for Tennessee State Senate, District 21

Before moving to Nashville in 1996, Dr. Steve Dickerson performed his residency in anesthesiology at the University of South Florida, acting as chief resident during his final year.  Dr. Dickerson’s practice has since grown to ten physicians.  He currently serves as chairman of the board of trustees at the Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia and, in 2009, was appointed by Gov. Bredesen to the Tennessee Board of Medical Laboratories, a position he resigned to run for the state senate as a Republican, District 21.  An avid guitar player, Dr. Dickerson has played in a band with Grammy-nominated artist Duncan Sheik and currently plays lead guitar in the local band No Good Deed.

Dr. Dickerson recently granted Underground Nashville the following interview:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:  What compelled you to run for the Tennessee state Senate at this particular time? What problems are you especially driven to help solve?

STEVEN DICKERSON: Like many Tennesseans, I have had a growing sense of unease about the future of our state and nation. Over time, I realized my unease was really a concern about opportunity. I am a candidate for the state senate because I believe, unless we act now, the opportunities available to the Tennesseans of tomorrow will be less than those available today.

There is an inverse correlation between the size of government and individual opportunity. As government takes on a larger role in society, individuals, and the opportunities available to them, diminish.

As a state senator, I will act to responsibly constrain the size and scope of our state government and limit its role to serving functions that are absolutely necessary. By so doing, Tennesseans will be empowered to live, work, and prosper in a state and nation where they have more opportunity, not less.

UN: Why do you believe GOP primary voters should vote for you on August 5, rather than your opponent, Mr. Chesser?

SD: Healthcare will be one of the defining issues facing our state over the next decade. How healthcare is handled by our General Assembly will impact our economy, our privacy and, of course, our health.  If elected to the state senate, I would be the only senator who was also a physician. In that capacity, I would be able to use my medical experience to help author and guide legislation to enhance access to healthcare, improve its quality, and do so in a fiscally responsible manner.

Moreover, being a physician has uniquely prepared me to deal with legislative decision-making. Legislators across our nation shy away from making decisions that cause short-term pain while providing long-term benefit. They are more concerned about the next election rather than the next generation. As a physician, I make decisions on a daily basis that are based on long-term benefit, though they may result in short-term discomfort. I will apply that same sort of decision making to legislation.

UN:  If you are successful in the GOP primary, and face Democratic Senator Doug Henry in the fall, what in Sen. Henry’s record will you most take exception with?

SD: Senator Henry has served his district with singular distinction and honor since 1955. However, I believe this campaign is about the future. Many of the problems facing our district, our state, and our nation result from a business-as-usual mentality of those in government. They see government as the solution to problems rather than an impediment to individuals and communities finding their own solutions.

Now is the time to elect leaders who will bring a fresh perspective about government, and the limitations about what government can and should do, to our General Assembly. It is only natural for leaders who have supported and authored legislation to have a certain sense of ownership in the status quo. After all, they are part of it. I think we can and must do better than the status quo. Now is the time to elect a new generation of leaders.

For more information, visit

Note: Dr. Dickerson’s opponent in the upcoming GOP state Senate primary, James Chesser, was interviewed by ‘Underground Nashville’ last week. Current state Senator Douglas Henry and his Democratic primary opponent, Jeff Yarbro, also have received interview invitations.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.


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