I live on a little farm at the end of Pumpkin Valley Road in Hawkins County with my husband, Jacob, and four fantastic children. We have a pig named Truffaluffagus as well as chickens, sheep, and horses. Every day, Jacob travels two hours each way to his job in Knoxville, where he works hard to provide for our family. My two older kids go to the local public school, and my two younger kids are homeschooled.
I have always loved science, nature, and hiking. I come from a family of gun enthusiasts and have been shooting since age 10. I’m also an animal lover, and I considered being a veterinarian. I enjoy cooking as an expression of love and care. I am a do-it-yourselfer; I sew and craft and fix my own car. From military service, to raising 4 children while caring for livestock, I have always worked hard. I’ve worked multiple jobs at a time more often than not. Most of all, I am a nurturer and protector and will put my heart and soul into the causes I believe are just.
I grew up as a military brat and lived in many places. My father, Richard, was in the Air Force, and my mother, Theresa, cared for me and my two younger siblings. My grandparents on both sides also served on many fronts, including Vietnam. When my dad was home from deployment, we played Nintendo64 and SEGA. He also taught me how to work on cars and how to be self-reliant. I got my first job as a veterinary technician at age 14 and graduated from high school a year early as Salutatorian of my class. After graduation, I decided to follow in my family’s footsteps and asked my dad to sign the waiver so that I could enlist in the United States Air Force at the age of 17.
In the military, I learned the importance of teamwork and accountability. I learned how to be a leader and how to get things done.
After six years of service and and an honorable discharge, I returned to civilian life to find that the deck is stacked against us:
I found that I have limited access to healthcare services in rural TN and no access to medical coverage, resulting in unpaid medical bills. I am a cancer survivor, and a relapse would be financially devastating to my family.
I found when I studied electrical engineering at a now-insolvent for-profit educational institution, I was encouraged, like many other students, to take out loans that I may never be able to repay for coursework that was incomplete and non-transferrable.
I found that when we bought our land in Hawkins County, about 3 years ago, the snow I was expecting in the mountains never fell, perhaps due to the changing climate.
I found that struggles like these, many of which you and your families face every day, start to break you down when you lose so many times.
These reasons, and many more, are why I am convinced that we must change the systems that keep so many people stuck and unable to get ahead no matter how hard they try.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We are far more capable of creating a better world than we have been led to believe. We can be the change we want to see, and together, we can create an environment where my children and yours live in health, freedom, and financial security.
We are living in a time of uncertainty, division, and growing tension. Often, we find ourselves feeling helpless, angry, and confused by the news we see.
The sensationalized news cycle frequently leads us to misplaced fear and hate instead of actual facts and contemplation. We often see only clips of phrases, single sound bites taken out of context, and even deliberate misinformation, which all perpetuate a false divide between Blue vs. Red, Us vs. Them, Good vs. Bad.
It’s time to end this pointless divide. It’s time for our leaders to take personal responsibility for the rhetoric they use and for all of us to work hard to discern fact from fiction. It’s time to remember that we are more the same than we are different.
All this fear and fighting distracts us from finding solutions to the real problems we face. We are watching live, day by day, sometimes hour by hour during this pandemic, as the gap between the super wealthy and everyone else widens. We watch as our friends and families suffer from poverty and lack of affordable medical care. We watch as addiction, suicide, depression, child abuse, homelessness, violence, chronic health conditions, underfunded schools, and overcrowded prisons increase.
Whatever our political ideology, we all see the same problems. We have more in common than we realize. Division is what is holding us back from creating the world we all want to live in.
I have the skills and experience to bring us together. I have been exposed to diverse people, places, and political views. I was raised in a strong religious and Republican home, and I’ve lived all over the country and overseas. I have experienced enough to know that there are many perspectives of every issue, and everyone has reasons for seeing the world the way they do. I don’t believe in reducing people to labels, and I know how manipulative and dangerous labels can become. I make it a habit to listen to all sides of the story, to look at as many points of view as possible. Last, if I have a personal opinion, it does not blind me to the data.
I can bring us together by understanding the real concerns of all sides and by looking at the evidence with clear eyes to make compassionate and data-driven decisions.
I know we can heal our communities, and I have a strong platform to accomplish this. Not a pie-in-the sky dream, just policies based on facts that will empower us to take back the American dream of peace, liberty, and justice for all.