Renee Hoyos, a democrat running in a traditionally conservative district, looks to replace Jimmy Duncan in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“My mother instilled in me that many of us are a paycheck away from the streets, and that we need to be more compassionate to people on the margins,” Hoyos said of her liberal foundations.
President Donald Trump’s election prompted her to run for congress, saying his win resulted from part of a decades-long erosion of social safety nets. She remains hopeful about higher numbers of voter turnout in Tennessee and across the country.
“Is this response people enthusiastic about Donald Trump and [they] want more of the same? Or something different?” she asked.
A republican has represented Tennessee’s second district since before the Civil War, but the historic precedent does not halt Hoyos.
“This district has changed a lot. Knoxville has changed,” she said, pointing to Knoxville’s 14,000 participant turnout for the Women’s March and the 2017 Pride Festival as demographics shift in East Tennessee.
“I believe that folks in this area are fiercely independent, and we’ve never given them a choice,” she said.
Hoyos is the former executive director for the Tennessee Clean Water Network, a role she says has prepared her for congress.
“I lobbied at the state legislature and the federal legislature, and I’ve worked on legislation to get it passed,” Hoyos said. “I know what it’s like to be a person on the ground and has learned how to move that process forward to get positive legislation passed.”
If she wins the election, Hoyos says her first priority is clear.
“We really need to get the cost of health insurance down because people shouldn’t have to go to the hospital and then file for bankruptcy,” Hoyos said. “There was a bipartisan bill in the Senate by our own Sen. Alexander and Sen. Murray. It had a lot of fixes in it, but it got stalled out, so I’d like to see that written for the House and then go back to the Senate.”
She also prioritizes minimum wage, hoping to raise the standard by one dollar per year over the next three years and then tie the minimum wage to the cost of living index.
“It’s time we reward our wage earners, who are really the engine of this economy,” she said.
Tim Burchett, Hoyos’ opponent and former county mayor, possesses the advantage of name recognition along with his party affiliation. Burchett’s critics point to perceived apathy toward debating with Hoyos.
“He won’t be around for us. He won’t feel an obligation to show up to have town halls, unless it’s with the people he’s comfortable with,” Hoyos said. “ I don’t think he’s willing to do the hard work of governance, which is talking to everybody and listening to everybody.”
Hoyos counts on a variety of factors to take her to victory against Burchett on Nov. 6.
Featured image by Renee Hoyos for Congress’ Facebook
Edited by Vanessa Rodriguez