Carol Abney is challenging the incumbent Republican running for TN House District 38, which includes Clay, Fentress, Macon, Pickett, and Scott Counties. After her first step into the political arena in 2018, she will be the first woman elected to this house seat. Abney is a Certified Public Accountant who owns her own accounting firm in Celina, TN. She is a lifelong resident of Pea Ridge in Clay County. Abney received her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Tennessee Tech University after returning to community college at the age of 38. She also helps her husband run Randell’s Garage, which he has owned and operated for 30 years locally.
Abney is a life-long volunteer and very active in her community, serving on the Clay County Museum Board, as Chair of Clay County Workforce Development, Vice President of the Upper Cumberland TSCPA in 2019 and President in 2020, and Secretary of the Clay County Educational Foundation which supports the Clay County Imagination Library, as well as Chair of the Clay County Democratic Party.
Abney’s platform centers on re-opening and stabilizing rural hospitals, bringing in better paying 21st-century jobs, and fully funding Tennessee public schools.
With one stable hospital in this five-county district, it is clear that Medicaid expansion is vital to the health of District 38. “We must expand healthcare coverage to our district where thousands of our neighbors will qualify, many quality jobs will be created, and we can keep our health facilities open.” Also, Abney is adamant that Rennova Health should be forced to forfeit the deed to their hospitals for the well-being of the rural Tennessee community. Rennova has been accused of robbing their employees of retirement funds, owing millions in taxes, and is currently holding Jamestown Regional Medical Center hostage. Abney will hold Rennova Health accountable, get Jamestown Regional reopened, and Big South Fork Regional stabilized. Abney was instrumental in forcing the sale of Cumberland River Hospital in Celina and is proud that they were reopened, until recently when they have again closed. She knows that funding is vital. Abney will fight for Medicaid expansion to ensure that rural hospitals will be paid and our neighbors can have access to local, affordable, quality healthcare.
Now that companies and folks are dealing with COVID-19, many are seeing the value of working from home. The broadband in this district is superb and can allow folks to work remotely at good-paying jobs. Incentivizing companies to use remote labor and alternative workspaces will allow rural citizens to get those jobs. Instead of having to travel outside the district, many can work from home. It will save taxpayer dollars on road maintenance and give folks a chance to spend more time at home growing their own local economies. Another big job creator will be passing medical marijuana legislation, a lucrative cash crop for this agricultural district. “With the unemployment rate the highest it has been this summer since the Great Depression, we need a state representative that is educated and experienced with our agriculture economy and small businesses. Our current representative has proven for 10 years that he cannot lower our poverty rate in this district with better jobs or investment in our people, so it is time to let someone else take over, especially in our current state with COVID-19.” Making sure that small farms are first in line with the Tennessee state budget will be a top priority for Abney.
Education is of great importance to Abney, as well. Vouchers for private schools took millions from public schools and gave rural Tennesseans nothing in return. Now that it’s been struck down as unconstitutional, Abney will fight for the state to step in and properly fund public schools. “Current teacher pay is unacceptable and causes rural schools to struggle to retain qualified teachers. Our students also lack extracurricular activity and arts funding. Fundraising should not be the focus of our students and teachers. They need to focus on proper education.” Abney demands full funding of our public schools and will not vote for a budget that does not increase teacher pay or funding for all Tennessee public schools.
It is time for a change in this seat. The current officeholder has held the seat for a decade, providing very little to this community. The poverty rate has consistently climbed to a collective rate that is almost double the state average since our current politician took office. “This district needs a State Representative who will show up for us, not just for a photo-op,” Abney said. “As your next State Representative, I will never stop fighting for this district. Rural Tennesseans are the heart and soul of this state, and we deserve more than what we have been getting. It is time someone went to Nashville and fought for all of us, not just a handful of his wealthy buddies.” The incumbent has never released a statement on the closure of the hospitals in District 38.
Carol Abney has been endorsed by Women for Tennessee’s Future, the AFL-CIO Labor Council because she will always stand with working families, the National Women’s Political Caucus, Progressive Candidates, recognized as a Homegrown Democrat from the TNDP Rural Caucus, Change TN, The Sierra Club, and she has received the Common Sense Gun Laws distinction from Mom’s Demand Action. Abney attended the PCCC, TN Democratic House Caucus, and Emerge training for candidates, and she has recently been quoted in Newsweek and the Daily Mail U.K. Abney has a video out now about #RuralTN politics with comedian and influencer Trae Crowder.