Mike Knotts, Director of Government Affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association
I love “The Andy Griffith Show.” That’s not exactly breaking news, I know. It’s only one of the most popular television shows in history. And I suppose having a father whose name is Don Knotts may have helped pique my interest many years ago. But few can disagree that there is just something about that program that resonates with people across America.
While my father was not the actor who played the iconic Barney Fife, I do relish the thought of life in Mayberry. Life was simple, doors were not locked, people helped one another during hard times, Aunt Bee’s cooking was the best (except for those pickles!) And occasionally the Darlings rolled into town to pick a song or two.
Over the past couple of years I have enjoyed exposing my three young boys to Andy and Opie and the rest of the characters. Sometimes they get a history lesson. “Dad, why does Barney have to ask Sarah to call the diner? Why doesn’t he just use his iPhone?” Sometimes they learn a great moral lesson about telling the truth or the consequences of unethical or unlawful behavior. Sometimes they see how important it is to serve others — can you think of a single episode where Andy Taylor does anything for his own gain? And sometimes they just laugh at Barney’s wide-eyed look of frustration when something else didn’t work the way he planned.
Yes, I love “The Andy Griffith Show.”
And while I readily admit that the world we live in is much different than Mayberry, couldn’t we all learn a little bit from it? I think so. Honesty, integrity and selflessness are not character traits that we readily associate with our political leaders of late, but I can tell you that those qualities still exist — and in great supply. But then again, maybe our world isn’t that different from Mayberry. For real fans of the show, you might recall that Mayor Stoner had a hard time respecting the separation of powers between the mayor and sheriff — that is, until a black bear and ornery bull taught him otherwise.
I’ve been involved in politics and government for more than 15 years now, and my experience has ranged from stuffing envelopes for political candidates to serving on the staff of a member of Congress as well as being appointed by the president of the United States to a position in his administration. I’ve seen a lot of good people working very hard for the future of this country and, yes, even a Mayor Stoner or two.
So when I came to work for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association a little less than one year ago, I was given the responsibility of protecting the interests of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives before both the state and federal governments — no small task, but one I have readily accepted.
As a member-owner of an electric cooperative, you share a unique experience with about 1 million other rural and suburban Tennesseans. You don’t just buy your power from your local co-op; you own your local co-op! The reality of that statement is that you are an owner of a business that is critical to our modern society, is technically complex, requires lots of money to build and operate and is a vital part of our communities. Oh, and the product you sell can kill you if not handled properly. This is serious business!
So it is only natural that the activities of your cooperative are frequently the subject of proposed new laws or government regulations. As these changes are proposed and debated in Washington, D.C., and Nashville, we will always advocate positions that keep your cooperative strong and able to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to your home and business. And we will do what it takes to ensure that the millions of voices of our association are both heard and respected.
As I have been telling electric cooperative employees across the state, we have a unique responsibility to help guide our lawmakers to sound energy policies. Our association takes this responsibility seriously. I look forward to using this column as well as our website at www.tnelectric.org over the years to come to keep you informed about these issues.
Hopefully our editorial oversight will better than the Mayberry Sun, Opie’s newspaper that focused on Mayberry gossip.