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Hurley up for capitol work

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By Katie Hogin

Julia Hurley is busy.

As one of the newest members of the Tennessee House of Representatives, she’s working to put together her Roane County office on the top floor of Harriman’s Temperance Building.

Frames are ready to hang, and the back room’s Christmas decorations storage is ready to be cleared out as she put final touches on the office for her weekend open house and first full week of meetings and committees starting today, Monday, in Nashville’s Legislative Plaza.

“I have no idea what we can do yet, but we’re working on it,” Hurley said regarding specific undertakings for Roane County.

“Right now, we’re waiting for Gov. [Bill] Haslam to bring his jobs plan out, and then we can work from there.”

Hurley planned to meet with Haslam and the economic development board this morning.

“There are six or seven of us representatives who have something in the hopper, I guess you could say, but I don’t want to get into specifics because if it doesn’t happen, I don’t want somebody to point their finger and say, ‘Well, you said this is what you would do,’” she said.

“So I promised that I would — I really didn’t make any campaign promises other than I’m going to try everything that I can to bring jobs here, and that’s what I’m doing.”

In order for more jobs to come to Roane County, Hurley’s main goal is to bring in manufacturing companies to the five industrial parks in her 32nd House District through recruiting and networking.

“It’s not the government’s responsibility to bring jobs,” Hurley added. “It’s our responsibility to push government out of the way so private industry can bring jobs. What you have to do is make your county a shining star out of all the counties in the state, out of 95 counties ... Like I said, all I can do right now is recruit, and that’s what we’re doing. That’s what the Chamber’s doing — we’re making Roane County available for recruitment.”

Hurley strives to invoke an open-door policy amongst District 32’s residents.

In order for everyone’s needs to be met, she encourages others to voice concerns so she can bring them to Nashville.

“It’s a really humbling experience,” she said. “Everyday there’s somebody that you think your life is bad and there’s somebody somewhere that calls you for help and you know you’re just absolutely blessed to be where you are right now,” Hurley said. “I mean, I feel like Roane County’s more my home than Lenoir City. I spend more time here, and I want to make sure I can help anybody that I can. I just want to be available to them.”

She scheduled to meet last Wednesday with the city mayors and Roane County Executive Ron Woody to discuss the budget. She had already received the audit, consisting of “40 pages of legal mumbo jumbo.”

At press-time, she was unavailable to comment on the outcome of these meetings.

Hurley also strives to bring a balanced budget with no tax increases and will create a top-five list of sorts soon after meeting with officials.

“I’m learning a lot about government than I ever thought I could,” Hurley said in her office last Wednesday. “I knew a lot already, but it’s very, very educational.”

Though she hasn’t been in office for long, she’s already got some funny stories to tell.

Hurley said others have already created a name for her in Nashville. She said Rep. Tony Shipley, with whom who she shares an office, and others refer to her as “Hurricane Hurley.”

It all started in a caucus meeting when Shipley called roll.  

“That cracks me up,” she said.

How did the nickname come to be?

“I think it’s just because I whirlwind through everything,” Hurley said.

She also gets mistaken for an intern a lot.

“I always make sure I have my legislative button on because I do get mistaken for an intern or a legislative assistant or, you know, just a general employee on numerous occasions ... Oh, I laugh. I find it extremely hilarious.”

With meetings and plans still in the works, only time will tell what and how plans will come to fruition.

“You only have two years to do what you can do, so I’m gonna try to do everything I can do in two years and hope I get reelected in 2012,” she said.

“I’m gonna give everything I can give, and I hope that’s enough.”