Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, defeated Gary Loe, R-Knoxville, by a margin of 296 votes in the 2012 election for State Representative for District 13.
Her narrow victory in the 2012 State House race was not her first attempt at public office. Previously, Johnson ran in 2011 for the vacancy in the 6th Senate District following Jamie Woodson's departure from the State Legislature for private sector opportunities.
She was defeated by nearly 30 percent in the special election.
On Jan. 14, Business Facilities named Tennessee its "State of the Year" for strides made in business. Gov. Bill Haslam has received several nationwide accolades for his pro-business approach to job growth, which has been incredibly successful.
However, Johnson has vocally proclaimed that the Republican supermajorities have done a very poor in regards to job growth in Tennessee.
Because the world of campaigning and winning elections never ends, Johnson has already been targeted as a seat that Republicans believe is vulnerable in 2014. Why? Because Johnson is a poor representative for her constituents, which includes most off-campus and some on-campus students.
I've met Johnson twice. The first time was last April in Nashville while at the Tennessee State Legislature. I hoped to meet with certain legislators about the issues in the upcoming session. I planned to meet with three: Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville, Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Johnson. I met with Sen. Massey and Rep. Haynes with no problems.
I walked into Johnson's office and waited for a minute; she glances out of her door and asks if she can help me. I inform her that I'm a constituent of hers who would like to speak to her about some issues. Her answer? That she didn't have time for me if I had no appointment, regardless if I was a constituent.
Now I appreciate how much our elected officials have to do but to not speak to a constituent who drove 200 miles to the Capitol is disrespectful and certainly an easy way to lose votes.
Unfortunately, Rep. Johnson has shown a pattern of disrespect and disregard.
Last October, the Student Government Association at UT sponsored a debate between UT College Republicans, UT College Democrats and Students for Liberty. I was fortunate enough to be one of the debaters as the president of College Republicans.
About a quarter of the way through the debate, Rep. Johnson walks in and sits among the crowd. Throughout the rest of the night, she laughed, scoffed and rolled her eyes every time I, or the Students for Liberty, spoke.
I understand different party ideologies and certainly respect that; however, to be rude and disrespectful to college students who are engaging in the political process and seeking to have a voice is indicative of a poor public official.
Moreover, Rep. Johnson has spoken about her defense of education and higher education. Her showing up college students and not taking them seriously when they are her constituents shows one thing: she doesn't view us as a demographic that matters to her.
At this point, it is up to us to show her that her pattern for neglect and disregard to the college students of UT is unacceptable.
I urge everyone on campus to engage in the political process we are fortunate enough to be a part of. Particularly those of us living inside District 13, please register to vote and prove Gloria Johnson wrong about the importance of the college vote.
The University Center serves as our polling place for elections and I encourage everyone to register to vote in order to voice their opinion.
Brandon Chrisman is a junior in political science and the president of College Republicans. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.