Inspired by her son’s efforts to shed light on the effects of bullying, Oak Ridge resident Misty Neergaard is running for the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Neergaard is unopposed in the state Democratic primary in District 33, which includes most of Anderson County, on Aug. 7. She will take on the winner of the Republican primary, which pits Rep. John Ragan, the incumbent, against newcomer Caitlin Nolan.
In a press release, Neergaard said her focus is on the need for Anderson County voters to have a voice in the Tennessee House.
“All too often Tennessee and its citizens are portrayed in a negative public light, Neergaard said in the release. “I know the people in Anderson County are kind and hard-working. They deserve a government who cares about them instead of scoring political points. Our family has been through some tough times, and the people of East Tennessee have been wonderfully supportive. It is time I give back.”
The release said Neergaard has been a dedicated mother and housewife for 18 years. Last summer, her son Marcel Neergaard created an online petition to help bring the effects of school bullying to light, the release said.
“The petition called out a national organization for honoring efforts that had a direct negative impact on the 11-year-old,” it said.
“The petition received 50,000 signatures in five days and was successful at getting the organization to change their stance,” the release said.
Marcel’s actions inspired Misty to also take action.
“As I helped my son find his voice, I found the voices of many other residents were also missing,” Neergaard said. “I am running to help those reasoned voices be heard.”
Neergaard also said she is an ordinary citizen who feels strongly that the people in a democracy are tasked with participating to make the system work.
“If there is only one voice making decisions, then the whole community is at a disadvantage,” she said. “It is the job of elected officials to best serve all of the people who elect them.”
This is Neergaard’s first campaign for elected office. She said she plans to bring Anderson County voices to the issues of education, jobs, and economic opportunity.
“People are struggling and just barely getting by,” Neergaard said. “We need good jobs now and a solid educational system to build the future.”
A few years ago when her husband was laid off, Neergaard said, the real concern of losing their home was at the forefront of every conversation. That fear is felt by families across the county and the state, the release said.
“Most people just want it to be a little easier, they aren’t looking for and frankly they don’t want a hand-out,” Neergaard said. “They are proud to accomplish what they can on their own. I really admire that can-do spirit, and hope to reflect it in office as a Tennessee State House Representative.”
Neergaard attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her degree in political science and international relations. She chose to forego a career in diplomacy to instead stay home and raise her two sons Maitland and Marcel. The Neergaard family moved to Oak Ridge from Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 2005.