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The Hills of Tennessee

Heritage and vision

Timothy Hill puts heart into service T

he memories are etched in Timothy Hill’s mind. His 7-year-old eyes squinted against the sun-washed sky as his father led him and his brother, Matthew, on a tour of War Memorial Plaza in Nashville. He knew instinctively: this was the place to be. Looking around at the statues, and watching the people busily going from office to office, Timothy listened as their father recounted the storied past of their beloved home state. And then Timothy saw the towering granite edifice, high atop the hill behind them. The cornerstone of Tennessee’s Capitol was laid on the Fourth of July in 1845. Nearly 15 years would pass before legislators would enter its massive doors for the first time. It is said that its outer stone walls still bear the pockmarks of bullets fired during the battle that raged around the building, reminders from the time a century and a half ago when brother struggled against brother in a nation torn by civil war. “It is such a great memory for me, spending time with my father and my brother. Here these two little boys were running around, getting this wonderful education. “Even at that young age, I knew how much I wanted to participate, and that this is where we go to serve, this is where we go to make things better. I honestly never expected the possibility of all that coming to fruition all these years later.” But indeed it has. Propelled by those memories, and the rich heritage to which he steadfastly clings, Hill is bringing his fresh vision to the people as a candidate for the Republican nomi(Continued on Page 2)


nation for the Tennessee House of Representatives from the 3rd District, comprised of Johnson County, a portion of his native Sullivan County, and an adjoining section of neighboring Carter County. Eternally optimistic, Hill says, “I’m happy with where we’re at right now. It’s a long process, and it takes a lot of hard work. You endure some very tough days, but there are also some extraordinarily rewarding ones as well.” The son of Kenneth and Janet Hill received his political baptism when the elder Hill sought the house seat of Above, Timothy Hill announces his candidacy for the then-Rep. Jim Holcomb, who decided Republican nomination of the 3rd District House of Representatives seat; and, below, then joins in the picking. to run for the state senate. “Matthew and I were part of the ‘ground game,’” he says with a chuckle, remembering the much less sophisticated campaign methods of two decades ago. “It was hard work, and long hours, and sometimes it was frustrating. “In the end, my Dad lost by just over 100 votes, but in the process, we all became friends with the winner, Ron Ramsey, who is now the lieutenant governor. He is a great guy, and has been a very important figure for Tennessee. “That race taught us the ins and outs of a campaign. It also instilled something in me. With Dad’s example, it’s just not enough to say we really need to change something. We have to be willing to try to do it. If you are politically geared, like we are, you really have to get involved.” A graduate of Tri-Cities Christian School, Hill studied at Northeast State Community College before taking his degree in public relations from East Tennessee State University. After graduation, Hill followed his father and brother into the family business, hosting the popular current events morning radio program, “Good Morning, Tri-Cities,” for almost three years. He still returns to his roots, occasionally bringing his “Big T” character to WHCB’s hit (Continued on Page 3)


program “Bible Buddies.” He is a member of the National Rifle Association, the CMT/Abate Motorcycle Education Club, and is active at the Blountville Community Chapel, where he has taught Sunday school and served as audio/visual director. In olden times, when their dreamy-eyed grandchildren asked why they loved their land so much, and stayed on it despite hardship aplenty, the elders of Mexico would respond with an ancient Spanish saying: “Mis raices estan aqui.” “My roots are buried here.” It is a feeling Hill understands well, and that springs deeply from his own heart. Hill says his love of home has grown with each day he has spent in its service and even more now, on the campaign trail to return to the Capitol building he first beheld as a young boy in Nashville. “I was out campaigning, and I met a fellow,” Hill begins to tell the story, quietly, almost reverently. “He was sitting by his wheelbarrow, way back up on Dennis Cove Road, far from the bustle of life. “And he began to talk to me when I introduced myself to him. Curiously, his name is Mr. Hill. And he thinks he met my great-grandfather.” The story of Timothy’s forebear is a remarkable and poignant one. Henry Hill worked in the Southwest Virginia mines and died there in a tragic accident, leaving his oldest son, 8-year-old Hubert, the family’s breadwinner. Timothy’s grandfather rose to the challenge, and then some – Hubert was driving tanks by the time he was 15, fighting in the epic Battle of the Bulge during World War II, and winning the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Silver Star. “I walked away from that meeting so humbled, the thoughts going through my mind, that he might have known my great-grandfather. I marveled at how we are all truly connected, and how important it is that we fight for each other. “And that is just a great thing, to be able to do that. There are times and events that really bind the district together. You might think that someone in Hampton has little in common with someone from Blountville, but that is not true. Their values are what bind them together. That’s really it.” Hill says his “focus is very constituent oriented and very driven by what the 3rd District needs,” and credits being raised in the district for his clarity in recognizing those requirements. Without hesitation, he says “the number one thing is jobs. All of this area is unique, very diverse. We have a lot of different types of businesses and I believe that is a great advantage, but one we must work hard to gain maximum benefit from.” The owner of Right Way Marketing, Hill said he has not only seen but also experienced the difficulties that have bedeviled the national economy for the last several years. “We have had to endure our share of cuts, and belt-tightening,” Hill says. “But I see a lot of opportunity for improvement and growth. Of course, we have to work to recruit new business (Continued on Page 4)


and industry, but at the same time, we must work with existing employers that have been pillars in our communities, and make it easier for them to do business in Tennessee.” Hill believes the business climate is “above average compared to other states, but we can always do better.” He is adamant about accessibility. “The people in the 3rd District need to know they can call their representative, and be able to talk to him if they need help with a problem, or if they have good ideas for legislation. That’s where things really happen. Good government invariably springs from the people. “It’s a sad thing to me if people inside a district don’t know the name of their representative. They don’t know where to turn if they need help, or how to have input into their government. “I was lucky enough to spend a little time around Jimmy Quillen,” the late congressman who served the First District for more than 30 years. “To say he was a legend is no stretch at all. But he would listen, and he would take the time to talk to his people. That’s the kind of representative I want to be.”

Hill well remembers the cold winter morning that made another first in his life. The 6-foot-2-inch Tennesseean walked slowly toward the gleaming white building that had been Quillen’s second home for three decades, and through the spinning metal doors that lead into the giant round room. It was January of 2007, and Timothy Hill found himself standing in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The new press secretary and communications director for thenRep. David Davis (R-1st) was almost spellbound. “I remember very clearly walking into the rotunda for the first time, through that one door, and you can’t actually see all of what is in front of you until you enter. That is the spot near the speaker’s office, and it is just absolutely breathtaking. “It created something inside of me that I didn’t expect. Almost immediately, I was overwhelmed with a powerful sense of responsibility about my work, and to the 1st Congressional District, that has always been home to me. But also a sense of duty to my country, and how important it was that we do well. “When I walked in the door that first time I got chills. It is such an awesome place, filled with history, and a lot of it centers on our state of Tennessee. It was unforgettable. “I enjoyed Washington tremendously. My average workday was about 16 hours a day. It was very fast-paced, and you didn’t get to take many breaks. I was working to get the word out and, though I wasn’t really reporting the news, I greatly enjoyed being on the cutting edge. “I’m very proud of my time in Washington, and the work that we did for the 1st. That is second to none for me, from a professional perspective, and I felt ready to do it. The sense of professionalism that I learned when I was in Lise Cutshaw’s journalism and public relations classes (Continued on Page 5)


ETSU had prepared me for that.” Hill said there were disappointments along the way. “I was surprised that, a lot of times, people can be very concerned about a specific issue, and pay close attention, yet be misdirected very easily. “Immigration such an issue. That was raging in the Senate, but there were plenty of things going on in the House that were very important to the people back home, yet many in the me- Above, Timothy Hill greets well-wishers at his announcement. dia and some folks back home didn’t seem to care. “They can be very upset about one issue, but not engage on others that are just as important, or more so. That’s what makes having the right person for your representative so very important. There is a lot going on and they must know how to take the input, yet keep an even balance. “I absolutely fell in love with Northeast Tennessee while I was in Washington. I was very lucky, getting to know representatives, and the various districts, and it made me appreciate my home that much more. We live in a very special part of the country, like no other. I departed being so grateful that I am from Northeast Tennessee. It is truly a great place to be.”

Hill describes his beliefs succinctly: “I am pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment rights, pro-traditional marriage and pro-common business sense.” He says he is optimistic about the Republican legislative majority. “The Democrats have had a majority in Nashville for 140 years. That is long enough, and it’s certainly time to see if we can do better. “It creates an interesting scenario for the Republicans. It requires them to lead. No longer do we find ourselves in the minority, being able to simply condemn bad legislation – we have to come up with good legislation, and lead Tennessee down the path the people want. It is a good thing, as long as the Republicans lead Tennessee to a better place.” Hill does not believe in political rancor merely because of habit. “There are some very good conservative Democrats in the House, and I know I would have no problem working with them. (Continued on Page 6)


“But we must work with ourselves, within the Republican party, to achieve good things for the state of Tennessee. Of course, we are going to have disagreements, and some of them will be spirited. I am willing to accept that, but I am not willing to fall into the cutthroat, slash-and-burn trap that claims so many politicians. “That rips at my very core. The people that I encounter on a daily basis are hard working and God-fearing. They have very deep roots, and they know where they come from, and where they want to go. They want to raise their families, and for their grandchildren to have a home, and a community to live in. “The people that care are the ones who vote. We need to encourage every person who cares about their country to make their voice heard. ‘Thirtysomethings’ are going to have to get ‘Timothy has such tremendous compassion. It engaged. It’s going to take all is remarkable. Timothy and Matthew are men. of us.” They stand as men. They are their own men. They A number of influential pomake their own decisions. We don’t agree on litical figures are working for every single item or issue. They came out of the Hill’s election, including his chute the way they are, thinking for themselves. Sullivan County co-chairmen, For their mother and me, seeing what they have Holcomb and former Rep. Herb Denton, and his Carter County become, and that to which they aspire is a co-chairman, former Sen. Bob blessing beyond measure.’ Burleson of Roan Mountain. Dr. Kenneth C. Hill Holcomb says Hill’s “conservative values will shine brightly (pictured from left with sons Matthew and Timothy; in Nashville” and Burleson above Timothy at Rocky Mount Historical Site) describes the candidate as a (Continued on Page 7)


“strongly principled and conservative man.” In his endorsement, Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-1st), said he believes Hill “has the integrity and character to be the best representative for the people of the 3rd District.” (For more information about Timothy Hill, visit his website at: www.hillforhouse.com. To read the other chapters of “The Hills of Tennessee” series, visit the homepage of the magazine website at: www.outnaboutmagazine.com)


Out 'N About - Timothy Hill