112th Tennessee General Assembly to welcome 12 freshmen legislators

When the 112th General Assembly is gaveled into session Jan. 12, 2021, 12 new freshmen legislators will be sworn into office ­– two in the Senate and 10 in House.

The two freshmen Senators both have municipal government experience. Four of the incoming House freshmen have local government experience.

Here’s a look at the new freshmen class.

In Senate District 20, Heidi Campbell, D-Oak Hill, narrowly won against incumbent Sen. Steven Dickerson. Campbell has served as the mayor of Oak Hill in Davidson County for six years. Campbell is a former music industry executive and holds an MBA from Vanderbilt.

In Senate District 26, Page Walley, R- Bolivar, was elected to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Dolores Gresham. Walley currently serves as the vice-mayor of Bolivar, and previously served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1990 to 2000. Walley is a licensed clinical psychologist and was formerly a Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services under Gov. Don Sundquist and held a similar post in the state of Alabama. He received his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and his doctorate in psychology from the University of Georgia.

In the House, four incumbents lost their primary elections.

In House District 6, Tim Hicks, R- Gray, defeated incumbent Rep. Micah Van Huss in the Republican primary election. Hicks serves on the Washington County Planning Commission and is the CEO of Hicks Construction, a custom home building business. His father served two terms in the state House in the mid-1990s.

In House District 7, Rebecca Keefauver Alexander, R- Jonesborough, defeated incumbent Rep. Matthew Hill in the Republican primary election. Alexander is the owner of Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home. As a graduate of East Tennessee State University’s master’s in storytelling program, she is also a professional storyteller and motivational speaker. She comes from six generations of Washington County dairy farmers.

In House District 15, Sam McKenzie, D-Knoxville, defeated incumbent Rep. Rick Staples in the Democratic primary and beat Independent Troy Jones in the general election. After earning a bachelor’s degree at Fisk University and a master’s degree in solid state physics at the University of Memphis, McKenzie spent more than 30 years working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He also served on the Knox County Commission for more than eight years.

In House District 92, Republican challenger Todd Warner, R-Chapel Hill, was victorious over incumbent Rick Tillis. Warner is a businessman and farmer in Marshall County. He has served on the Marshall County School Board and as an Alderman in Chapel Hill. As an active member of Farm Bureau and the Tennessee Cattleman’s Association, Warner has expressed support for farmers and the agriculture industry.

The remaining freshmen legislators filled seats vacated by legislators who either chose not to seek re-election or ran for another elected seat.

In House District 3, Scotty Campbell, R-Mountain City, is filling the seat previously held by Rep. Timothy Hill, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress. Campbell is a graduate of Vol State Community College and Cumberland University. He previously served in the Tennessee House of Representatives during the 107th General Assembly and was a legislative staff member during the 105th and 106th General Assemblies. Campbell was a 911 police/fire/EMS dispatcher and worked at a local radio station as the morning news host.

In House District 16, Michele Carringer, R-Knoxville, is filling the seat previously held by Rep. Bill Dunn, who retired from the legislature after 26 years in office. Carringer served for on the Knox County Commission. She attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the College of Communications and is active in the Knoxville community, serving on numerous non-profit boards and commissions. Carringer has also served in various leadership roles for both the Knox County Republican Party and regional Republican organizations.

In House District 18, Eddie Mannis, R-Knoxville, was elected to fill the seat previously held by Rep. Martin Daniel, who decided not to run for re-election. Mannis is a graduate of Maryville College and the founder and CEO of Prestige Cleaners. He served as the city of Knoxville’s chief operating officer under Madeline Rogero’s administration. He is also the founder of Honor Air Knoxville, which sponsors local veterans to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C. Mannis has served on several boards, such as the McGhee Tyson Airport, Visit Knoxville, and Zoo Knoxville’s boards, and was chair of the University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Associates.

In House District 76, Tandy Darby, R-Greenfield, succeeded Rep. Andy Holt, who decided not to run for re-election. Darby works for Akin and Porter Produce and on the family’s cattle farm, Darby Brothers Farm. He also served on the Weakley County Chamber Board. Darby is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin, obtaining his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business.

In House District 90, Torrey Harris, D-Memphis, defeated 26-year incumbent Rep. John DeBerry, who was forced to run as an independent after the Tennessee Democratic Party executive committee voted to remove him as a Democrat from the ballot. Harris received his bachelor’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Christian Brothers University. He works in human resources management for Shelby County Government and is active in his community, serving in organizations like the Memphis Urban League.

In House District 97, John Gillespie (R-Memphis) was elected to fill the seat of Rep. Jim Coley, who decided not to run for re-election. Gillespie works as a grant coordinator at Trezevant Episcopal Home and is a graduate of High Point University in North Carolina. He previously worked at First Horizon as a financial service representative and later moved to the mortgage division at Evolve Bank and Trust. Gillespie also has a background in political campaigning, having served as the assistant campaign manager for former Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s campaign.