The Tennessee Human Rights Commission is an independent state agency responsible for enforcing the state's anti-discrimination laws which prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, disability, familial status and age. The Commission also ensures the State of Tennessee's compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on race, color and national origin by State agencies receiving federal financial assistance.
Eric Crafton served on the Metro Council from 1995-1999, and again from 2003-2011. Crafton unsuccessfully sought the position of Davidson County Juvenile Court clerk in 2010 running as a Republican. That was the first time in 38 years a Republican had ran for one of the court house offices. He did not win but made a respectable showing. In 2011 he also sought a Council-at-large seat, but that year no one except incumbents won an at-large seat all of whom were reelected without a runoff.
While serving in the Council, I thought Crafton was one of the better Council members. I was never disappointed when Eric took to the floor. He asked the questions that I wanted asked. He would ask, "why are we doing this?" He would ask, "How much will it cost us." And, he offered insight into the issue at hand and clearly explained why he was taking the position he was taking when a controversial issue was being discussed. He was thoughtful and communicated clearly.
Eric was one of the smartest people serving in the Council and one of the better educated. He is a 1989 graduate of Vanderbilt University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in math and Economics. While serving in the Navy stationed in Japan, in 1994 he attended Keio University and earned a degree in Japanese and Political Economy. He is fluent in Japanese.
Crafton led the unsuccessful effort to make English the official language of Nashville in 2009. The proposed English First charter amendments would have restricted the city from publishing most communications in languages other than English and would have prohibited the city from paying for most interpretative services. While I did not support this effort I do not think the intend was mean spirited. There were pros and cons to the proposed charter amendment and people of good will could disagree. The effort was to create an environment that encouraged people to assimilate and learn English rather than being able to continue to function in their native language and to save the city money.
Because of Crafton's effort to pass the English First amendment he has been vilified by the more "progressive" element in our city as some sort of bigot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Crafton whose wife was born in Japan and whose brother-in-law is a naturalized citizen from Mexico, is not a bigot. He pursued a policy that he thought would address a problem. We were not on the same side on that issue but I never thought his intent was evil. While I did not support the English First campaign I enthusiastically supported Eric's campaign for Juvenile Court Clerk and his campaign for Councilman-at-large.
I am pleased to see Eric Crafton appointed to the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. I welcome Eric Crafton back to public service. He has a lot to offer. In a prepared statement Lt. Gov. Ramsey said: "A devoted public servant and veteran, Eric Crafton is exactly the kind of individual our state needs on the Human Rights Commission. I am confident that Eric's unique qualifications and viewpoint will be of great assistance as the Human Rights Commission carries out its important mission to safeguard all of our citizens from discrimination." I agree.
Congratulation to Eric on his appointment and congratulations to Lt. Ron Ramsey for recognizing a talented public servant and not being afraid to poke progressives in the eye.