Nevertheless, mayors from each locality issued a joint-proclamation on Wednesday declaring Jan. 25 “Ron Ramsey Day” during the Chamber of Commerce’s annual membership luncheon at the Carnegie Hotel.
“He has treated all of East Tennessee like family during his tenure,” Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe said. “This guy represented a State Senate district that was not part of Washington County, but you wouldn’t know it by all the good things that he helped bring about here in Washington County.”
Wolfe jokingly said that Ramsey should have a namesake in Jonesborough because of the former lieutenant governor’s impact in “Tennessee’s oldest town.”
“We’ve got all these projects in Jonesborough from our Senior Center to our train depot to our art center to walking trails and soon the Jackson Theater that (Ramsey) played a major, major role in,” Wolfe said.
With Ramsey’s support, Gov. Bill Haslam’s 2013 budget proposal included allocating $500,000 to the Town of Jonesborough so it could purchase the 90-plus-year-old Jackson Theater.
Ramsey’s charismatic demeanor certainly makes him a tough guy to deny, and his experience in the state legislature certainly earned him the ear of many government officials.
Ramsey said those state legislators and contacts he secured during his two decades in office will be especially beneficial during his post-political part-time career, which will include serving on the East Tennessee State University Board of Trustees.
Ramsey will be traveling back to Nashville on Feb. 1 for the State Senate to confirm his position on the ETSU governing board.
“I’m sure they have something set up for me. Keep in mind, I’m going before a committee that I appointed,” Ramsey said with a broad smile. “I feel pretty confident about it and I’m sure they’re going to give me a hard time.”
The new eight-member college board, which will oversee the future of the institution, will replace the 18-member Tennessee Board of Regents as the university’s authority. It will likely meet for the first time in March, Ramsey said.
When pressed about the ongoing issue of outsourcing jobs at ETSU, Ramsey said he would “keep an open mind.”
While that board position will keep him busy, Ramsey also hinted that he’s been tabbed for various consulting positions.
“There are several groups that have asked me to come on board with them for a salaried position to help consult, so I could help get these things I think the state of Tennessee needs through the legislature,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey mentioned that the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance, a consortium of cable groups and even Ballad Health all extended personal invites to him.
“One of the things I’m really working out is making sure this Mountain States/Wellmont merger comes together. It’s been a booger to work on and it’s getting closer everyday,” Ramsey said. “When (the merger) happens, they’ve asked me if I would help them on their consulting in Nashville to make sure their needs are met. I can make one phone call and solve a problem that may take someone else 10 phone calls. Or (they) may never solve that problem.”
Ramsey, 61, declared in March that he would be stepping away from politics and not run for re-election to focus more on his family, especially his five grandchildren and his wife Sindy.
“I may spend a day or two in Nashville a month, but I am going to be spending a lot more time with my grandkids,” he added.
Serving the 1st District from 1993 to 1997 in the House of Representatives and the 4th District from 1997 to 2017 in the state Senate, Ramsey eventually became the first Republican to serve as Senate speaker in 140 years when he was elected to the position in 2007.
Email Zach Vance at [email protected] Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.