Here are some of the most frequently asked questions as I meet voters across the 1st District.
Steve, why are you running for Congress?
Steve Darden –

To make life better for the people who live in the 1st Congressional District of Tennessee.  And I have the right skills and passion for the 1st District that we need right now in Washington.

I’m a small business owner of a law firm, and I’m a trained mediator who knows how to deliver win-win outcomes. I’m not a career politician, but my 10 years as a City Commissioner and Mayor gave me valuable insights into how to get things done. I will be an excellent ambassador for our District and will help make our local communities better places to live, work, worship and raise a family.

You speak of special skills. Can you offer some examples of how you used those skills as Mayor of Johnson City?
Steve Darden – Here are a couple examples. I saw that downtown Johnson City would never have the shops and restaurants we wanted unless we ended the flooding that choked development. I worked to end the problem and it has led to a thriving downtown. I had a vision of how abandoned railroad tracks could someday become a pathway for running and biking. Today, with the help of others, we enjoy the Tweetsie Trail, which was the first rails-to-trails project in Tennessee. And my knowledge of federal laws and refusal to give up were crucial. I bring people together to solve problems and despite the partisan politics of Washington, I will work to solve the many problems of our Federal government.
How will you help the 1st District recover from the COVID Pandemic?
Steve Darden –

We’ve all been impacted in some way by the Coronavirus. Several of our counties have been especially hard hit because of suspended travel to tourist locations. I will make sure that our small business owners and families here in the 1st District have the best opportunity to recover through government support. I also urge voters in the 1st District to support local small businesses by choosing them for your purchases in the months ahead. For workers who have lost their jobs, I will work hard to see that there is Federal support in finding your next job.

Phil Roe did a great job for the 1st District. Can you live up to that standard?
Steve Darden – Congressman Roe is a great representative for the 1st District, especially in helping our veterans, and he and his staff, including my brother, District Director Bill Darden, are known for being very accessible. I will provide the same level of service.  Congressman Roe and I were both Johnson City Mayors and I have seen how hard he works. I will do the same. I will build relationships in Washington that benefit us at home. I promise that I will wake up every day ready to fight for the needs of the people throughout our District.
What are your core beliefs that would make you a great Congressman?
Steve Darden –

Every person has the right to build a successful life here in America. Government is here to protect and support that freedom to be a success… not to infringe with heavy taxes or overreach on our Bill of Rights. I believe that my Conservative Republican values can protect those freedoms here in the 1st District.

The best social program is a good job. I will help bring good jobs to every community in our District as well as promote tourism to our beautiful, natural attractions as well as our historical and entertainment sites.

The Republican Party needs to be the party that offers solutions to our Nation’s problems. And Congress, with its dismal approval rating, needs to up its game.

Are you pro-life?
Steve Darden – Yes. Every person, no matter their age, is precious and a work of God. I also support efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancy and end the cycle of single, teenage motherhood that can limit a person’s options in life.
What is your view on immigration?
Steve Darden – I support President Trump’s initiatives to combat the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. Those who have felony records must go. We must offer a fair route to citizenship and honor the law. We must also assure that an affordable and user-friendly seasonal worker program is in place that supports agriculture in the 1st District and assures an ample labor supply. I think it would be a great idea to move oversight of the program to the USDA rather than the Department of Labor.
Will you support the second amendment if you are elected to Congress?
Steve Darden Yes. The Second Amendment is safe with me. It is protected in the Bill of Rights, and I’ll be a strong defender of our right to bear arms.
What about the First Amendment?
Steve Darden – The First Amendment was placed first by the Founders because of its paramount importance.  They were fierce advocates of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression / conscience, and I will be too. Big tech plays a huge role in American life and must act responsibly. But these are private sector businesses, and regulation aimed at holding big tech accountable must preserve First Amendment liberties.
The COVID Crisis has seen unprecedented growth in the Federal budget. What is your view on Federal spending?
Steve Darden – Our national debt was out of control before the COVID-19 Crisis. Now, it’s nearly $25 Trillion! While some Federal spending was necessary through the crisis, I fear that the ramifications will soon saddle us, and future generations, with a heavy burden. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to restore responsibility to the federal budget.
What is your view on the size of government and accountability?
Steve Darden – I favor smaller government. Over the past several decades, the federal bureaucracy has become oversized and more concerned with its own self-preservation than service to the citizenry. I believe that Republican success at the ballot box in 2020 will mean a doubling down for accountability by government agencies, and I look forward to playing an active role in such effort.
There are many family farms in the 1st District. How will you support them?
Steve Darden – The 1st District is largely rural and preserving our farm culture and helping farm families and rural communities is imperative. We don’t need to be pouring milk down the drain or seeing crops wasting in the field. We need to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill, as has been done through much of our history and at the same time reduce burdensome regulations that make it difficult for farmers to earn a living. The Federal government must continually strive to reach trade deals that open up foreign markets to crops grown by American farmers and maintain a level playing field for our farmers. Locally-grown meat and produce need to be sold locally on a bigger scale, and such meat and produce should be served in our school cafeterias to promote more healthy diets and wellness. We need policies that make affordable guest workers available and that have less red tape. We need Federal regulations regarding water and other issues to be reasonable and broadband service must be available across the board to our rural families. I will support our farmers and rural culture to the greatest extent possible.
What is your view on healthcare?
Steve Darden – It’s too expensive for middle class families. I have several initiatives in mind when I am elected to Congress. We need to attack this problem through an overall focus on population wellness. ETSU and UT need additional support for the development of more health care professionals and doctors. We must find less costly alternatives to in-person visits with a doctor. We should allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs from U.S. manufacturers as well as from those abroad. We need additional Federal support in the 1st District related to drug addiction and obesity. Forcing everyone to buy health insurance that costs too much and covers too little is not the answer. We have looming doctor and nurse shortages coming in a few years and we need to get ready now. While that’s not Washington DC’s way, it’s the Darden Difference.
What are your views on the opioid crisis?
Steve Darden – The opioid crisis and addiction issues continue to harm people and families, burden our healthcare system, increase crime rates and create quality-of-life issues for our cities and rural areas alike throughout the District.  I joined the Addiction Science Center Working group a couple of years ago to try and better understand the issues and look for solutions.  Of course, pharmaceutical companies that hid the addictive risks of drugs in the interest of profit, irresponsible doctors and treatment facilities must be exposed and held accountable.  But for many people these are issues of life and death and I will be an ally and work with experts to address and overcome this scourge on society. The pressures of the COVID-19 outbreak will likely compound the problem, and that is why addressing opioid and other addiction in our District will be one of my top priorities.

One very promising development involves our local use of “drug courts.”  These programs consist of a judicially supervised drug treatment program that offers someone arrested on drug charges the chance to avoid jail and fight addiction by meeting the requirements of the program.

What are your views on national defense?
Steve Darden – I applaud President Trump for removing us from foreign entanglements in the Middle East and elsewhere. He has invested in rebuilding our military and in how we pay and support military men and women and families. The best opportunity for a peaceful world is for the U.S. to maintain a strong national defense, and I will not waiver from that support as your next Congressman.
What about your views on public education?
Steve Darden – I’m a product of public education and a proud graduate of Science Hill High School. Public education must produce an educated citizenry and improving career training is essential. We must focus on the workforce in the 1st District with vocational training that will help recruit more industry and high-paying jobs here. We are fortunate to have so many great public schools here, and I will be an ally to helping where it’s needed.
What about foreign trade?
Steve Darden – President Trump has made great progress in making American jobs a priority. I will support him in doing even more, especially when it comes to moving important technology, personal protective equipment manufacturing and pharmaceutical production from China to the U.S. Overall, trade must be fair, and the goal of any trade deal should be to enhance the standard of living of the American worker.
Do you feel that our veterans are well taken care of in America?
Steve Darden – Congressman Phil Roe did a great deal in improving healthcare for our veterans here in the 1st District and nationwide. So has President Trump. I will uphold their fight for continued improvement in veteran services.
Many of your opponents are accepting donations from special interests. What is your position on this matter?
Special Interests – The job of a Congressman is to serve the voters, not special interests. Those donations to the other candidates in this race are because most are career politicians. I’m not. I will never put re-election above what’s best for the people of our District.
How do you feel about limits?

Steve Darden – I think term limits are the only way to reduce the influence of special interests and their huge sums of money.  The only people who seem to be against term limits are career politicians.  The President has term limits; why should Senators and Congressman be any different?

What is your view on America's relationship with Israel?
I support the continued alliance of the United States with the nation of Israel which has demonstrated its status as our ally.  As the only democracy in the Middle East, our support for Israel must be unwavering.

As a high school senior, through the United Methodist Church, I attended a multi-day seminar at the United Nations.  Among the presentations that I and other attendees heard was a forum at which a representative of the Israeli government and a representative of the Palestinian movement spoke.  It was 1978, a mere 6 years after the murder of several Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games. 

The representatives were both mannerly, intelligent, well-spoken and informative.  Now, however, over 40 years later, a peaceful resolution between Israel and the Palestinians remains elusive.  The United States should encourage a peaceful solution but does not have the authority to mandate such an outcome or its terms.  Instead, we should continue to encourage a solution resulting from direct negotiations between the parties.  We could, however, serve a mediator role.

There are, of course, those who foment conflict, including Iran.  Iran is neither a friend to Israel nor the United States and we must continue to counter Iran’s influence in the region.  Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.  President Trump made a very important move when he acted to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

I further support the annual renewal of $3.3 Billion as part of the Memorandum of Understanding.

In 2018, President Trump enacted the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.  The move was appropriate and, in my opinion, should be permanent. 

Israel’s ability to function in the international community is vital and must be protected.  Thus, I will oppose the BDS movement. 

The horrors of the holocaust and the clear anti-Jewish sentiment that continues to exist in the world make it morally imperative that the United States of America always be a staunch ally of Israel.  To me, our alliance must be preserved without question.  Such support includes providing security assistance to Israel and resisting hostile nations and organizations such as Hamas Hezbollah. 

For most of my lifetime, the major problems and majority of armed conflicts in which our nation has been involved are rooted in the Middle East.  As such, it is in our national interest as well as being the right thing to do to protect Israel and to benefit from its strength as an intelligence-sharing ally, a military power, and a beacon of hope and freedom in the world.