"I come from a proud family that has been involved with public service for as long as I can remember. I want to work for you. We need to create more living wage jobs, improve our schools, and make healthcare affordable and accessible for every Tennessean. As a small business owner and a community leader, I know what it takes to understand problems, find solutions, and get things done."
Tennessee is one of only 14 states across the country that refused federal funds to expand Medicaid, leaving hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans without health insurance. Ten percent of Tennesseans are currently uninsured, and an average of 13 percent of residents in District 82 are currently without health insurance.
Tennessee is ranked second in the nation for rural hospital closures, leaving a quarter of Tennesseans without emergency room access and many employed by those hospitals without jobs. In less than 10 years Tennessee has seen 12 rural hospitals close.
Nearly a decade ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of our insurance coverage, it was detected very early. Even though the diagnosis was terrifying, I was able to seek treatment without worrying about coverage costs bankrupting our family. Without Medicaid expansion, we stand to lose more rural hospitals and thousands of jobs, not to mention the health and well-being of thousands of Tennesseans.
I will fight to make sure every Tennessean has access to healthcare because no one should lose their home because they get sick or lose their life because they can’t afford to go to the doctor.
For rural communities, internet access can serve as a gateway to a number of services. But, the lack of broadband access places rural communities across the state at a disadvantage when it comes to economic growth, healthcare, and education.
This digital divide disproportionately impacts people of color, particularly in rural areas like District 82. I believe that closing the rural digital divide is imperative and should be a top priority in our state.
I also believe that we must increase funding for the Tennessee highway and bridge capital fund. Improving our highways would strengthen the agriculture industry across the state, including in Crockett, Haywood, and Lauderdale counties. I will always fight for our rural communities and Tennessee farmers.
I believe that everyone in our state should have a chance at a stable, good paying job. Far too many hard-working Tennesseans are still struggling to provide for their families. I will focus on attracting new employers and industries to our state, especially in our rural areas, while working to ensure that all Tennesseans have the opportunity to earn a living wage for their work.
While the economy may be going well for some Tennesseans, that’s not true for all, especially with layoffs related to COVID-19. Many of our friends, family, and neighbors are looking for work. Some who are working are doing the best they can to make ends meet, juggling bills and mortgage payments, or maybe putting off retirement plans to give their child the opportunity to go to college, or to care for an elderly parent. The people of this state work hard to meet their responsibilities. We need a legislature that meets theirs. I will fight for good jobs and fair pay for all working Tennesseans.
Investing in education means fully funding our public schools, and making certain that our education system is equitable for all. Every single child in Tennessee deserves an opportunity to succeed, regardless of their zip code.
To ensure the best possible student outcomes, we need to work collaboratively with educators to understand the challenges they face and make sure they have access to the resources their schools need. Teachers deserve manageable class sizes, school buildings that are properly equipped and maintained. I believe our families and communities can only be their best when we support education, and I will always fight for our public schools and stand with our public school educators.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that we need strong leadership in Nashville. Mixed messages on testing and the guidelines for reopening businesses have been coming from the Capitol, creating additional confusion - for individuals and business owners - at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.
While we all want our lives to return to normal, ignoring guidance from public health experts puts us all at risk, especially our most vulnerable populations. Policy decisions related to public health should be informed by data and science. I believe that in times of crisis, Tennesseans deserve leaders who will lead, not give in to political pressures.