Governor candidate Black stops in Dyer County
On Friday morning, Republican governor candidate Diane Black visited Dyer County. The U.S. representative spoke with State Gazette on Friday about her campaign and the main issues she believes faces the state of Tennessee.
A daughter of Great Depression-era parents, Black grew up in Maryland and spent her early years raised in public housing. With the encouragement of a high school guidance councilor, she became the first person in her family to earn a college education.
“That’s what I really say is my base. That’s what has set me up for the future,” explained Congresswoman Black. “My parents taught me hard work and never give up. My councilor taught me high standards and high expectations, so I take that with me to today. I want people to know that’s who I am.”
Though not a native to Tennessee, Diane, along with her husband David has resided in the state for over 30 years.
Throughout her life, Black has served as a registered nurse, a small businesswoman, and a former educator. She was first elected to the State House in 1998 and successfully ran for the State Senate in 2004. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and is the only Tennessean to ever chair the House Budget Committee.
Congresswoman Black last visited Dyer County in October 2017, where she held a brief meet and greet at Dave’s On The Square in downtown Dyersburg. She spoke of three issues that she felt Tennessee could improve, which were jobs, education, and health care. During the interview, Black again, touched base on each of the topics.
“Jobs are so important to communities, obviously, and some areas the economy is doing much better than other areas, like for instance in Nashville, we see the economy growing really quickly. But in the more rural areas, we see more challenges. I want to focus on those areas that are the greatest challenge.
“What would I do for the rural areas? One of the things that I hear from people consistently that would help them attract more industry and more jobs is to have better roads and to have connection to broadband. It’s almost essential these days that you have good Internet connection. When people don’t have access to that, it’s hard for people to attract industries and businesses.
“For education, I think we focus really too much on just higher education over the last 8 years, and what I hear from the job creators is that they need a work force that is ready to go to work after they leave high school. So getting vocational career and technical vocation back into schools is very important. We need more welders, electricians, and plumbers. We have a real need for that. So, what I want to do is put them back in high schools and have a ready work force, so when people leave high school, they can go directly into the workforce or they may need to go to a technical center and get a little more education. But we don’t need a pathway to say the only way to success is a four-year college education.
“Then on the health care issue, I’m very concerned about the opioids. We see that all the way across the entire state. That this doesn’t hit one segment of the population, it’s not age-dependent, it’s not economic dependent, it is across the spectrum. So, finding a way, first of all, to prevent it – there’s three pieces to it, prevention, the law enforcement side of it, and then it’s the recovery side of it. Taking a look at all three of those pieces, and determining what we can do from keeping people from getting addicted and then stopping the flow of the opioids, and then finally finding a way to get people whole and healthy.
“There is one other piece that I want to mention. There is one thing that is already strong here in Tennessee that we need to maintain and have to jealously protect, especially as we have more people moving into our state – we’ve got to protect our Tennessee values. Here in Tennessee, we honor certain things that are very important to people such as knowing that God is God, life is life, and truth is truth, standing up for the American flag, making sure that we don’t have sanctuary cities, and these are values that are important to us in the state of Tennessee. We need to protect those values, and I plan to do that as governor.”
When asked how she planned to attempt to address the various needs across the state, Congresswoman Black stated, “I believe that what we have to do is to listen to those communities and figure out a way that we can collectively, from the staff that I have and the people that I work with in Nashville at the Capitol, that we can find a way to meet those needs. First of all we’ve got to listen to communities, and have them tell us what they need – not assume what they need.”
She added that by listening to communities, she has learned of new ideas that work in certain areas, including an idea that she first heard of in Dyer County.
“Sometimes I hear some really unique things. For instance, here in Dyer County, I love what Sheriff Jeff Box has done with the workhouse there at the jail and the successes that they’ve had in getting people rehabilitated and getting them back in the workforce. It’s just hearing what is the different flavor from one community to the other.”
Asked why she declared for the governor’s race, Black responded, “I have been in the State Legislature for 12 years and found that I really enjoy policy and fixing things. I’m a fixer. I love this state, and I see an opportunity to grow this state to be in the top 10. We’re in the middle of a number of things. Who wants to be in the middle? I want to be at the top. I love this state, and I think that I have the experience and the ideas to help move this state to the top of all of those things – jobs and economy, education and health care – all of those areas I believe that I have the background, and with help from others around me and the communities, I think we can make this into one of the top 10 states in the nation.”
She also noted that her experiences would also aid her in serving the state in the executive role.
“It’s like in anything else, I’m a nurse, so my nursing background, the more experience that I got as a nurse the better nurse I was. So, I feel like I’ve had such a rich experience in public policy, in both the state level and now at the federal level, where not only have I experienced an opportunity at the state level, but now I know how the federal government works.”
When asked what she thought set her apart from her fellow candidates, Black replied, “I think experience. The other thing I would say that may be a little different about me is that I’m a person who thinks outside the box. I don’t want to do things the same old way. I think outside the box and listen to people. Together, with people thinking outside the box, we can change some things within our state.”
Following the interview with State Gazette, Black mentioned that she was scheduled to stop at Newbern City Hall as well as other municipalities across West Tennessee.
For additional information on Black or her campaign, please visit www.dianeblack.com.