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New legislator answers the call

New legislator answers the call

Posted: Monday, June 1, 2009 9:34 pm

New legislator answers the call | New legislator answers the call

Judy Barker
 For a newcomer to politics of any stripe, Union City attorney Judy Barker did very well for herself, thank you, in the 2008 political campaign in Tennessee. The incumbent, Democratic state Rep. Phillip Pinion, had represented the district continuously since 1988. It was assumed that he would run again and be elected again. But Pinion had other plans. At virtually the last minute, he created quite a stir by announcing that he would retire from politics when his current term expired. As you might imagine, his imminent departure from the political arena gave impetus to those whose eyes had long been on the prize but were reluctant to go up against an entrenched and popular incumbent. But now, a door long closed was wide open. A field of candidates, Democrats and Republicans, filed qualifying papers and set out to win the hearts and minds — and hopefully the votes — of the electorate. Mrs. Barker, a 1983 graduate of University of Memphis Law School, had been in private practice in Union City 25 years when she made her milestone move. With encouragement from Wayne, her husband of 30 years, and their two sons, Parks, 21, and Tyler, 25, she joined the fray. “We started our campaign in April 2008. We had a formal opening of our campaign headquarters (in Union City),” she said. “Right after I announced, we went to different locations in the three counties. We started working the rural areas, just getting into our vehicle and driving around to country grocery stores and restaurants, meeting people and getting people to know me. I’d go before any group that would listen to me.” On Aug. 7, 2008, Mrs. Barker won the Democratic primary in overwhelming fashion and would next face off against fellow political newcomer, Bill Sanderson of Kenton, who had claimed the Republican primary convincingly. A hard-fought campaign ensued, with Mrs. Barker claiming the vacated seat in the Nov. 4, 2008, General Election with 7,365 votes to Sanderson’s 5,691 votes. Committed “They elected me. I’ve got a commitment,” Mrs. Barker told The Messenger Wednesday. “I told them I would work my heart out for northwest Tennessee. Every day I am recommitted to that promise. We get in here and answer e-mails and phone calls, from all over the district. Every day.” Setting up shop In early January, Mrs. Barker set up shop, so to speak, in Pinion’s office at Legislative Plaza in Nashville. With the office came an invaluable staff, chief among them Audrey Jenkins, whose voice is familiar to those calling the office. “She has been a blessing to me,” Mrs. Barker said. “She knows all the contacts in all the different offices. She was here probably 20 years before I arrived. I consider our office a lifeline for our constituents who call in. Sometimes they are scared, sometimes they are frustrated, sometimes they’re mad. They’re needing help. “The people in these offices are here to help. We are public servants. We work for the people of northwest Tennessee and the entire state. Our job is to find solutions if possible to help them find resources that will help them through the system.” Oaths of office On Jan. 13, the 106th Gen-eral Assembly convened at Legislative Plaza. Mrs. Barker and her peers were administered oaths of office, each officially endowed with certain responsibilities and powers as representatives of their individual House districts. In February, Mrs. Barker was assigned to membership on the House Transportation Committee and House Education Committee. “I have really enjoyed serving on the Education Committee,” she said. “I have received the benefit of input from teachers, superintendents, board members and parents before I make my vote. It’s been an eye-opening experience. I am very much an advocate of public education.” All positive Late Wednesday, Gov. Phil Bredesen said that where state Rep. Judy Barker is concerned, “it’s all positive.” “She’s a leader on the House Education Committee and Transportation Committee, dealing with issues relative to her rural district,” he said. “She’s a great advocate for issues dealing with the elderly. She has a very good working relationship with the administration.” Call me Mrs. Barker said she has two offices — one at Legislative Plaza and one in Union City, “my law office.” In accordance with her wishes, The Messenger publishes her phone numbers and e-mail address. • Phone numbers. Union City: 885-2200. Nashville: (615) 741-0718. Also, 1-800-449-8366, ext. 10718. • E-mail: Also, she said, anyone needing information about state government — the status of a bill or just trying to find an agency that can help them — can access the Web site at Published in The Messenger 6.1.09

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