State Representative Glen Casada will not run unopposed in the 2020 election, as Williamson County School Board of Education member Brad Fiscus announced his campaign for the 63rd District seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives on Monday.
An Indiana native and 22-year Williamson County resident, Fiscus said he will run as an independent candidate, hoping to appeal to the majority middling the two-party system and help unify the polar extremes.
Fiscus said though people have told him he ought to run as a Republican or Democrat, he has stood firm on his decision to choose neither, saying he truly stands in the middle.
“That’s who I am," he said. "I think what made it easy for me to run for school board was not only the fact that I’m passionate about education but that I’ve always been the kind of person that’s going to be in the middle for everybody.
“When I was in high school, I had multiple friend groups, and I was usually the bridge for those other friend groups to be there. I was that person in the middle, and I think that’s where I am. I can listen to all sides and seek wisdom from all sides and try to make sure that the decision that’s being made is what’s best for everyone, and I think sometimes, right or wrong, our two-party system can get stuck into platforms and get stuck into these set issues that they say they need to focus on, whereas our needs — yours and my needs — are forgotten.”
Though being the incumbent representative of the 63rd District, Casada has not yet announced a bid to run again. He has held his seat since 2003 and worked his way up to state speaker of the House. However, after discovering sexually explicit text messages about women that Casada sent to two men in 2016, his Republican peers in the House cast a secret-ballot vote of “no confidence,” after which Casada announced his plans to resign from his position as House speaker on Aug. 2.
According to Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, despite this “no confidence” vote and his resignation as speaker, there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement in the House to unseat Casada altogether. Defending his intent to remain in his 63rd seat, Casada told the Herald in a recent letter that, as others have done worse and held their positions just the same, he doesn’t believe his actions warrant a full resignation.
“We have a member who was disciplined by the ethics committee for sexually inappropriate conduct, and other existing House members (in both parties), about five off the top of my head, who have done far more egregious things than send a couple of text messages 3 ½ years ago,” Casada said.
Amongst the controversy, Fiscus said he wants to be the kind of government leader who listens to the needs of the people rather than getting caught up in politics and personal issues.
“Whenever we’re at the place where we have to spend more time dealing with the issues of our legislator instead of dealing with the issues of the people of Tennessee, that’s wrong,” Fiscus said. “If you think about any organization — and I use this when I teach about leadership — there’s 20% that are going to believe this way; there’s 20% that are going to believe (that) way. Well, you’ve got that 60% that are in the center, and they’re just trying to figure out who to follow.”
He said he doesn’t believe the two-party system represents all people, and he is hopeful that more independent candidates will step into office, creating a government that more closely reflects America’s diversity.
Fiscus has spent his years as a coach, educator, church leader and, most recently, a school board member. Coming from a family of public servants, including an uncle who served in the Indiana House of Representatives, he said he has always wanted to serve as an elected official in some way. Running as a state representative seemed like a natural next step.
Fiscus said his experience in the United Methodist Church is closely aligned with his mission to bring people and differing views together, which is one reason why he has remained a member of the church from his youth until now.
“Even in the turmoil we’re in right now, we have founded ourselves on being that ‘coming together’ place, where people of diverse thought, diverse background, diverse ability can come together and have a conversation about faith and life and who they hope to be,” Fiscus said.
He also hopes to appeal to millennials and iGen. Fiscus said as he has spent time with the younger generations he has noticed their desire for moderate leaders.
“They’re tired of this,” he said. “They’re tired of the polarization. They’re tired of ‘my idea is better than your idea.’”
He said this sentiment is something he shares with teenagers and young adults and hopes it will attract an older demographic as well.
"I think we're all tired of partisan gridlock in Tennessee and across the country,” Fiscus said. “Our elected officials should be able to see past partisanship to do what's right and good for our state. As an independent, I won't be hamstrung by either party, and I fully intend to work across the aisles to find common ground and a meaningful way forward.
"Our community deserves to be proud of the person they elect as their representative. That person should embody family values, be a responsible steward of the state's resources and lead with integrity. I think I'm that person.”