By ALLEN RAU
Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Diane Black held a meet and greet Tuesday morning at the venerable downtown Jonesborough coffee house, The Corner Cup.
“I fell in love with this town in the spring when I came here,” Black said to the citizens gathered to meet her.
“Every part of this state is important to me. And I think too many times small areas like this are forgotten about … it breaks my heart because we cannot lose our culture and who we are.”
Black stated that she believes the biggest issue facing Tennesseans is keeping the state’s values intact.
“The biggest issue for all of Tennessee is to make sure that we keep our Tennessee values. What we’re seeing across the nation is it’s so easy to lose your values when people come from other states and we are a state that has a lot of people moving into it,” she added, “In Middle Tennessee, we have 100 people moving in every day. They come from places like California and New York that don’t share our values and they’re going to want to change who we are.
“I think it’s imperative that our next governor is acutely aware of it, number one because those things can sneak up on you and you wake up one day and say, ‘Where did it all go?’ And I, as governor, am going to make sure I’m watching that constantly and that we don’t allow people moving here to bring their values and try to change who we are.”
Black has served the past eight years as a Congressman for Tennessee’s Sixth District and has chaired the House Budget Committee in the past. She was also a member of the State Legislature, serving six years in the Senate and six years in the House.
“It makes me uniquely qualified because I have had the experience in both the state and the federal level … I know the legislative process. I certainly know how to work with the governor and the governor needs to work with the legislators.
“I have a lot of contacts with the people that are in the federal government that I’ll have that reach, as the governor, to be able to call and just say ‘Hey, I need your help with this’ or ‘Can you tell me about that?’ because I still have a lot of contacts in Washington.”
She began her career as a registered nurse and still maintains her license. She and her husband, Dr. David Black, have three children and reside in Gallatin.
“I am a mother and a grandmother and I’m a nurse. I’ve been a nurse for more than 45 years and I still have a license today,” Black continued, “I’ve also started small businesses, I’m an educator. I’ve done a little bit of everything.
“I know how to run a business, and I’ve been an educator so I know about the field of education and also medicine.”
She believes these facts qualify her for the governor’s office over the other candidates.
“The thing about nursing is you’re taught so much about looking at root causes. You always go back to the root cause to figure out why something’s happening. I’ve used that same principle in what I do in the legislature or in my business. ‘Why is this happening? What can we do to fix the root cause and not patch it?’”
According to Black, she was spurred to run for office when she worked as a nurse.
“I was working in the hospital back in 1998, when TennCare was still here in the State of Tennessee and I saw what it was doing to the quality of care, the cost of care, and I thought ‘I’ve never run for office before in my life, but I could have a voice and tell people what actually is happening as a boots-on-the-ground nurse.”
Black said she feels education is a key issue as well.
“We can tell a manufacturer when we recruit them that they are going to have an educated workforce. That includes more than just college.”
She said if the programs that help students become eligible for work straight out of school could be brought in, Tennessee’s rural areas would stay strong.
Black finished her visit by telling the crowd, “I have a heart for service and I want to serve this state and I will consider it to be an honor.”