Marjorie Ramsey is the Democratic Party candidate for state Representative for the 11th District in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Ramsey, 70, of 2295 Highway 160, Newport, is divorced and has one son, Charles Ramsey.
She graduated from Cocke County High School in 1959 and took classes at Walters State Community College.
Ramsey worked at American Enka, which became BASF, for thirty-four-and-a-half years "before our jobs got outsourced to Bangladesh."
She sold skin care products as an independent contractor through Lady Love Skin Care, which was later bought and renamed Tarah.
She is currently retired.
Ramsey has not previously held elected public office.
She is a former Ruritan Club member, a former chair of the Cocke County Democratic Party, and a former president of the Cocke County Democratic Women's Club.
She is currently the Democratic State Executive Committeewoman for the 1st Senatorial District.
She provided the following answers to these questions asked of all the state Representative candidates by The Greeneville Sun:
Sun: Why did you decide to run for this office?
Ramsey: I am running for state Representative because the last two years, the legislature in Nashville has passed some really extreme things like making it harder to vote and taking teachers' collective bargaining rights.
At the same time, our fellow Tennesseans have lost their jobs and can't find new jobs. They can't put food on the table or put clothes on their children's backs.
Yet the focus of the elected representatives in Nashville has been this other stuff that doesn't put the first person back to work.
If elected, I will support legislation to get people back to work and restore their rights.
Sun: What qualities do you think voters should look for in a state Representative? Why?
Ramsey: A state Representative should be foremost an advocate for those she represents.
A state Representative needs to know what the people need to make their lives better. She should not be sent to Nashville just to make herself richer or her friends famous.
A state Representative should weigh each vote carefully and consider what will happen if the bill becomes law.
A true Representative should be willing to always do the right thing even if that goes against her party. The party didn't send the Representative. The people in her district did.
She needs to always remember it is a privilege to serve those people and to do her best to make their lives better.
She should never be beholden to some special interest group especially when that group's interests would hurt the people she represents.
Sun: For you personally, what are the one or two most important issues facing the state that you would want to help address if you were elected? What would you try to accomplish relative to each of these issues?
* The first issue is jobs.
Frankly, there are a lot of people that have lost their job in this recession who need to get back to work and able to take care of their families. Jobs should be the legislature's first priority.
One thing I would try to get accomplished is to make sure that Tennessee companies are first in line to get state contracts. It's a simple way of getting our people back to work.
Next, I would support giving tax incentives to companies to locate in Tennessee paying good wages and providing benefits like health insurance. If the companies don't bring the jobs they say they would, the companies would lose the tax benefits.
* The second issue is education.
Increasing the education level of the average Tennessean is a long-term strategy for growing the state's economy.
First on this is to let teachers in the classrooms do what we hired them to do in the first place: teach our children.
So I would vote to repeal all these silly rules they passed last time like the not-holding-hands bill, the suing teachers if the parent disagrees with what the teacher does, ending virtual schools, especially in this area where high-speed Internet needed for this to work isn't widely available.
Next, we need to expand and increase the number of junior colleges and technical schools to train a workforce that can compete in the 21st century job market.
Finally, we maintain accountability for our teachers but make their goals attainable. The teaching evaluation system needs to be rethought and replaced.
Sun: Beyond the top issues you mentioned in Question #2, please identify up to five other state issues you consider highly important, and explain your position on them?
* Voter ID Law -
As a senior citizen myself, I find it ridiculous that we have taken the rights to vote from those who have sacrificed the most to keep us free.
One 80-year-old man told me that he would never vote again because he was turned away at the polling place. He was turned away because he didn't have his picture on his ID.
Another woman told me she had to travel to the DMV from Cocke County to Hamblen County four times while gas was almost $4 a gallon just to get the free ID. Every time she went, she was asked to take more information.
In our areas, the same people help hold the election and personally know most of the people that vote in the precincts. They are neighbors. They know about each other's children, hobbies, likes, dislikes, and favorite fishing hole.
Yet, without that ID, they are strangers at the polling place.
We need to repeal this law to keep 130,000 people from losing their right to vote.
Some say it is to prevent voter fraud. However, I know of no instances of voter fraud in Cocke, Greene, or Jefferson Counties.
Sun: In what ways do you believe that you could have a positive impact on Greene County itself if you are elected state Representative?
Ramsey: I would focus on bringing jobs into Greene County which would increase the standard of living for all people in Greene County.
This would allow us to improve public school education by hiring more teachers and reducing class sizes.
Our roads and bridges could be updated and modernized with the increased revenues from more people working.
Sun: In your opinion, what should the State of Tennessee do concerning the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare? Why?
Ramsey: For good or for ill, Congress passed this law. The Supreme Court of the United States has said the law is constitutional.
Tennessee does not have the authority to defy U.S. law. If we did in this case, our TennCare program would lose money for failing to comply with the mandated coverage.
Sun: What is your viewpoint concerning the United Nations program known as Agenda 21?
Ramsey: I would like to remind people that United Nations resolutions do not have the force of law unless there is a treaty the United States has signed. Since there isn't a treaty on this, it doesn't really matter.
Some of the goals are admirable like cleaning up the air and the water and increasing the number of high-paying jobs.
I do not see this as a state issue that we could do anything about in the legislature because it's a federal matter.
Sun: Abortion has been raised as an issue in the campaign. Please clarify your perspective about abortion and about the Planned Parenthood organization.
Ramsey: When it comes to abortion, we are faced with a question that is better answered by saints and philosophers.
I don't believe in killing a baby or an adult for that matter. However, I trust women in Tennessee to make this a rare occasion.
Planned Parenthood is an organization that receives federal funding. On both of these issues, these are federal matters that have to be decided by Congress.
Sun: A related question: In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in the case Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee v. Sundquist that the Tennessee Constitution protects a "fundamental right to abortion." This ruling effectively prevents the enactment of even very modest regulation of abortion in this state. Dissenting Supreme Court Justice William Barker explained that the only way to change the situation is by constitutional amendment.
In 2014, Tennesseeans will be asked to vote on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution which provides that nothing in the Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects the right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.
What is your position on that amendment?
Ramsey: First of all, there is no state funding of abortions because most of those which might be funded by state money would be via the TennCare program or CoverTN. Both of these receive funding from the federal government, which, under the Hyde Amendment, prohibits federal funding of abortion, and this would carry over to Tennessee being unable to use those funds to perform abortions.
So, what we have here is a bill passed by two General Assemblies who took precious time to argue this point rather than get our people in Tennessee back to work.
It's unnecessary because the Roe v. Wade federal Supreme Court case has already defined abortion rights. It's dangerous because we run the risk of having our entire state constitution thrown out by a federal court.
If that happens, the state gets to foot the bill to pay to write another state constitution, which is something we can ill afford right now.
Sun: Voters are choosing between two candidates in the 11th District race. Please summarize why you believe that you are the right person to represent the people of the district in this important position.
Ramsey: I have lived all my life in this district, worked here, raised my son here, and hope to die here. I will make jobs and education a priority if elected as State Representative.
The first bills addressed by the legislature need to be to speed people in Greene, Cocke, and Jefferson counties back to work. Long term economic development will come as we make improvements to education so our children will be able to complete in the global workforce.
I will work to restore people's voting rights and get rid of silly laws that tie teachers' hands in the classroom. I won't embarrass you.
Vote for me to restore sanity in Nashville.
Short closing comment, if you wish:
Ramsey: I would like to thank The Greeneville Sun for the opportunity to express my views.