Former House Finance Chairman Charles Sargent dies

Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin), left, confers with Rep. Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville) on the House floor in Nashville on April 23, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Charles Sargent, the former chairman of the House Finance Committee has died, The Tennessean reports. He was 73.

Sargent was first elected to the General Assembly in 1996. He decided not to run again this year.

The New York native moved to Nashville in 1970 and later settled in Williamson County. He was named finance chairman by then-Speaker Kent Williams (I-Elizabethton) in 2009 and was retained in that role by House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) when she took over two years later.

At the time of his retirement, Sargent was one of the few remaining House members who had voted against the state income tax championed by then-Gov. Don Sundquist, a fellow Republican. The others were Harwell, Glen Casada (R-Franklin), Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), and John Mark Windle (D-Livingston).

Sargent, an insurance agent, was a strong advocate for the business community during his time in office, incurring the wrath of the the likes of the Tennessee Firearms Association in the process (but retaining strong ratings from the National Rifle Association).

Sargent narrowly turned back a strong challenge from Sonic drive-in franchisee Steve Gawrys in 2014, winning the Republican primary by just 255 votes. But Sargent came back strong  in a 2016 rematch, trouncing Gawrys by a 2-to-1 margin.

Here are some reactions from Sargent’s former colleagues:

“He was a public servant who not only served his district well, but made the state of Tennessee better. We send our prayers and condolences to the Sargent family during this time.” – Gov.-elect Bill Lee.

“Charles Sargent and I carried the state budget together for each of the last eight years. He also served with me on the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations where state shared taxes and school funding were always top of mind with him. His knowledge of state finance was unparalleled. He represented his constituents with passion and without peer. We owe his wife, Nancy, and his entire family a debt of gratitude for sharing Charles with us.” — Former Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), now a federal judge in Memphis.

“Losing Charles is a loss for all of Tennessee. His knowledge of the budget was unmatched and he deserves thanks for his work in helping lead our state to where we are today. In total, we served together 24 years between the county commission and legislature. He was my friend, and he will truly be missed.” — House Majority Leader Glen Casada (R-Franklin).

“Charles Sargent was an outstanding leader for Tennessee. Most of all, he was a great and loyal friend. Charles was a stalwart representative for Williamson County and an outstanding chairman of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee.” — Senate Speaker Randy McNally (Oak Ridge), a former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Charles and Nancy Sargent have been such faithful public servants, committed to the growth and development of Williamson County and creating a stellar quality of life for those who, like them, chose to make it their home. We worked together for decades through political endeavors to achieve this goal. His positive impact on our county and state will be felt for decades to come. I will miss him.” – U.S. Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn (R-Franklin).




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