About Eric Stewart
Eric grew up in a family of small business owners and teachers.
Sandra, Eric's mom, completed her degree at MTSU while Eric was still an infant and is still teaching today as a principal at South Middle School in Franklin County. Richard, Eric's dad, taught and coached for 20 years in Franklin County while running the family’s home improvement business after the school day was done. Richard later left the teaching profession in 1986 to take over an insurance agency in Decherd, Tennessee.
Eric's family has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. His grandfather, Carl – a sheet metal worker by trade – laid the groundwork for what turned into a 70 year old family tradition when he started his own business out of his garage in Lincoln County, Tennessee. The Stewart family continues that tradition today with Stewart Aluminum Products, the family's home improvement business based in Winchester.
Growing up, Richard woke Eric up early most Saturday mornings to put in HVAC systems and install aluminum gutters. While Eric admits it's not something he necessarily enjoyed at the time, he admits, "it taught me a lot: about business, about how to treat people, about how to do a job and do it right, and about how to work together towards a common goal – all things Washington seems to be lacking in today."
After graduating from Franklin County High School, Eric attended Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, majoring in political science with the idea of possibly going to law school, but the lure of the family business drew him back home. Eric began managing the business in 1993 and worked to expand the company's footprint across middle Tennessee thereby growing the business to its height with multiple crews and over $2 million in annual revenues.
It was during this time that Eric met his wife, Judy Holt. "Judy and I went to high school together but our paths never crossed. When I came back home she had just started teaching mathematics at Franklin County High School, directly across the hall from my mom. We met through a mutual friend and 33 days later we were married. Eighteen years later she is my rock. No matter how bad things seem at times, she has never left my side and always encourages me to push forward. No matter how great the obstacles are, she keeps me grounded and focused on what's important: my family, my faith and the people I represent. I am truly blessed."
Shortly before the birth of their first child, Ashley, Eric had the opportunity to start his own insurance agency. He opened Eric Stewart Insurance Agency in Fayetteville, Tennessee in August of 1999 and grew it to a successful small business. "It was a huge risk. I left my comfort zone. I entered a town in which I didn't live and where I knew very few people. The day I opened the doors for the first time it was just a desk, an empty filing cabinet, and me. Thankfully, I took those same tools my parents taught me early in life and was able to work hard and grow a successful agency."
Eric also grew up around local politics. "When I was about 10 years old my dad ran for the Winchester city council. He, my mom, my 5-year-old brother and I knocked on every door in town. I learned what being a public servant was about from my dad. It's not always about the politics. It’s about working together, even when you disagree, to make our communities stronger and better places to live."
While expecting their second child, Holt, in 2002, Eric decided to run for the Franklin County Commission. He scored a decisive victory over a 12-year incumbent. Shortly after being sworn into office, Eric started tackling the budget issues that faced the county. One of his first proposals was to cut the county commission salary by one third. "It was a tough time to be in county government. Governor Bredesen had just been elected and had to clean up a budget mess he inherited. One way he did that was on the backs of local governments by cutting their state shared revenues, leaving us with a pretty big hole to fill. We were forced to make some massive cuts to keep from raising taxes. My proposal wasn't very well received by my colleagues, but it was my belief that if we were asking everyone else to make sacrifices we should do it too." In his 4 years on the commission, Eric worked hard to help improve roads in the rural county and championed a property tax freeze for seniors. What he is most proud of during his service to Franklin County was his ability to bring folks together to solve problems. "Like any elected body, we had our differences but we all knew we had a common goal – to improve our community. We never lost sight of that and that is something I am extremely proud of."
Eric gave up his seat on the county commission in 2006 when his father decided to run for county mayor. "Nothing prevented us from serving together but we both thought it best not to, so I didn't run and worked hard to help him in his campaign."
In 2008, another opportunity arose when State Senator Jerry Cooper retired from his position. Eric decided to run for the seat and, after a hard fought primary and general election, took his oath of office in January of 2009. In the senate, Eric again fought for those who didn't have a voice in government. "As elected officials we are sent to do a job, to stand up and fight for the people we represent, for our communities, and to work together to all of Tennessee a better place to live."
In November of 2011, Eric decided to not seek reelection to the state senate but to run for the 4th congressional district citing a desire to take courage, common sense and cooperation back to Washington. "Like most people who decide to run for office, I did so because I saw things and thought they could be better. Washington is broken and both sides of the aisle are to blame. We have a lot of problems in this great country of ours, but the biggest one is a lack of confidence. Not in ourselves, not in our neighbors, not in the American worker, but a lack of confidence in the ability of the folks we send to Washington to come up with solutions. It just seems like it’s all about the next election up there. We need folks that understand we are all in this thing together, that working families are hurting, that small businesses are struggling and that the only way we can solve these problems is to do it together. The ability to work hard towards a common goal is what makes this country great. It's time we had folks who worked to reunite us as a nation not further divide us for political gain. That’s just how I was taught, it's what I have tried to live by, and it's what I will dedicate myself to doing when the folks of the 4th district give me that opportunity. The stakes are extremely high, but the American people are up for the challenge. So am I, and that's why I'm running for the US House of Representatives."