Senate District 32 Special Election Candidate Directory

Heidi Shafer

Senate District32

Candidate Headshot
Incumbent or New


Party Affiliation



Lakeland TN

Candidate Email Address

Campaign Website URL

Campaign Facebook Page


Would you support or oppose legislation that would prohibit abortion except when necessary to prevent the death of the mother?


Would you support or oppose legislation that would make either sexual orientation or gender identity/expression a new protected class under Tennessee’s civil rights laws?


Would you support or oppose a bill to amend Tennessee’s marriage statute to expressly authorize the issuance of marriage licenses to two people of the same sex?


Would you support or oppose legislation that would establish a $15 per hour minimum wage in Tennessee?


Would you support or oppose legislation to allow the state to defend public K-12 schools that are sued because they designate the use of locker rooms and bathrooms on the basis of biological sex instead of the gender by which a student identifies?


Do you support or oppose the proposition, advanced by a certain business coalition, that the bill described in question 5 is “discriminatory” and “would harm our economy and damage our state’s reputation”?


Currently, a majority of the Justices on the Tennessee Supreme Court select the state’s Attorney General and Reporter. Would you support or oppose an amendment to the state Constitution that allows the Legislature to elect the Attorney General and Reporter in the same manner that it elects the Secretary of State, Comptroller, and Treasurer?


Would you support or oppose an amendment to the state Constitution that allows the Governor to appoint the state’s Attorney General and Reporter subject to confirmation by the Legislature, as now happens with the appointment of the state’s Supreme Court Justices?


Would you support or oppose legislation, like Insure Tennessee proposed by Governor Haslam in 2015, that would expand Medicaid coverage in Tennessee beyond the Medicaid-eligible population?


Do you support or oppose the decision by the state’s Department of Health to disregard the state’s current adoption laws and allow a child’s original birth certificate to show that the child has two mothers simply because one of the women is married to the child’s biological mother?


Would you support or oppose a bill that would prohibit the state or local governmental entities from either giving preference to or discriminating against a business entity in awarding of grants or contracts based on whether the business has made sexual orientation or gender identity a protected status under its personnel policies, assuming that either of such statuses is not otherwise required by federal law?


Would you support or oppose legislation to award all of Tennessee’s Electors in a presidential election to the Party of the candidate who wins the national popular vote?


Do you support or oppose legalizing horse racing tracks in Tennessee at which bets can be placed on races?


There is a school of thought that the Constitution is a “living” document, meaning its various provisions are evolving and should be interpreted in the context of contemporary societal mores. Would you support or oppose a nominee to the Tennessee Supreme Court if there is credible evidence that the nominee believes the state or federal Constitution should be viewed or interpreted as a “living” document?


Would you support or oppose legislation to ensure that an adoption agency with a sincerely held belief that marriage is only one man and one woman would not lose its state license to make adoption placements if it only placed children in homes into which the marriage was of one man and one woman?



Explain your view of state government’s role in relation to economic growth and/or job creation.

I believe that state government should focus first on building/rebuilding infrastructure (roads, bridges, sanitation/sewer, communication). This enables commerce. Next, I believe state government should have reasonable, but not crushing, regulations. Often, agencies far exceed the laws set by the legislature, and they become crippling to business development. I believe state government should review agency policies derived from the laws set and clarify or adjust the law to be sure policies are not exceeding the legislative intent. Thirdly, the state has a role in attracting business to the state. Low taxes and reasonable regulations are part of attracting businesses. Unfortunately, we border many, many states who abate income tax as a lure to businesses. Tennessee has begun using a more favorable recruiting model, and I would like to expand on that, and make sure that all parts of Tennessee benefit.

What are your thoughts about a parent of a child in a low performing public school being provided a voucher equal to the amount of the state’s per-student expenditure that would be applied toward the child’s private school tuition?

No child should be trapped in a failing school. But I also have concerns about a voucher system. I taught at a Christian school. We were very successful in educating children on a comparatively small amount of money, using our own methods and standards and beliefs. One of my concerns about vouchers is the strings that nearly inevitably follow the voucher...the amount/times/version of testing, state and federal guidelines regarding what can and cannot be taught, especially religiously, and even what bathrooms and locker rooms students are allowed/required to use. The reach of government into the parochial and private classrooms could be used to undo the very essence of what makes those schools successful. In Shelby County, we now have municipal schools, which created a series of "competitive school options" that spurred real progress forward in each school district, including the large Shelby County system via I-Zone Schools.

Nor, in my view, should vouchers be used to syphon off dollars from successful public schools.

I am certainly a proponent of religious education, and home schooling and private schooling for parents who choose that. My husband and I chose religious schooling for our daughter, and paid for it. I would be extremely cautious about using tax-payer dollars.

What is one of the most satisfying things you have ever done or accomplished and what made it so satisfying to you?

In my first term on the Shelby County Commission, I authored and, with my colleagues, passed a bill that moved family planning funding from Planned Parenthood, which had one location in East Memphis, to Christ Community Health Services, which had multiple locations throughout the county and a host of wrap-around services. It was the better plan in every sense. Even some people I knew who had come to our meeting to support Planned Parenthood could see the rationale in the proposal.

My authorship and leadership on this issue had some real political costs. It was worth every angry word, threat, and repercussion.

What personal qualities or experiences do you think will best serve you in your role as a state legislator?

1) I am a Christian who prays for wisdom, grace and discernment. This is not MY quality, but my experience is that God makes a way.
2) I am able to build consensus. No one does anything by themselves in government. You must have a coalition of the willing in order to succeed. I know how to do that successfully.
3) I was raised on a farm, and am still part-owner in our family farm. I understand rural/small town economics very well. I also served a Budget and Finance Chairman for the Shelby County Commission, which oversees billions of dollars in a major urban/suburban area. I know where the balance is in the competing needs of each area. It doesn't have to be either/or. (urban vs. rural). It must be both/and.
4) I am a former teacher. Our school reforms have had many benefits, but also some unintended consequences that must be corrected. I know what actually works in a classroom, which is often very different from what people in a boardroom think.
5) I have real experience in the healthcare field. Texas v. Azar creates opportunities, but also uncertainty, as it works its way up to the Supreme Court. We do not wish to be burdened with a costly system for which the federal government could reduce funding leaving the state to carry the costs: nor do we wish do be burdened with a system that requires any entity or professional to perform or pay for any service which violates his/her/their beliefs. At the same time, rural health care is in jeopardy, and hospitals are performing many services with no reimbursement. This is not sustainable We will need to be thorough and persistent to make a path for Tennessee.
6) I've built a business from the ground up. I know exactly how hard it is to make a pay-roll, meet all the regulations, pay your taxes, and make a way for all to provide for their families. I'm actively involved in running the business, which gives me excellent insight into what is needed to create a business friendly/entrepreneur friendly environment.
7) I am accessible; I return phone calls & value constituent input. I energetically advocate for my constituents (and often other people's constituents) even on controversial topics.

What bill that passed in the last General Assembly would you have voted against and why, or what bill that was not passed in the last General Assembly do you wish had passed and why?

One of the most noteworthy things that was passed and of which I am in favor was the Senate Bill 2332 / by Green, Bell, Ketron, Roberts, Pody, Southerland, Bowling, Jackson, Gresham, Reeves, Hensley, Lundberg / Status: Public Chapter 973 / Effective Date: January 1, 2019, banning Sanctuary Cities. As outside entities try to break our national borders and create an unstable national environment, Tennessee took a stand to be sure Tennessee cities would not be actively working against our own federal policies. I would have voted in favor of this.