Amber Riddle is looking to turn a devastating loss into an opportunity to create “meaningful change.”
In December 2017, Riddle’s sister- and brother-in-law were shot to death in their home. Her sister-in-law was seven-months pregnant when she died.
Their deaths, along with support from a friend, inspired her to run for the state Senate, a decision she announced Saturday at the Tri-Cities Women’s March in downtown Johnson City.
“I’m trying to give them a voice they no longer have, and that’s one reason I’m running,” Riddle said. “I have to see their kids grow up everyday; it’s definitely one of the driving reasons behind (my candidacy).”
Riddle, a Democrat, would face incumbent State Sen. Jon Lundberg, who was elected in 2017.
Lundberg previously served five terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives, and recently said he has no plans to leave office to pursue the open Congressional seat in Tennessee’s 1st District, which will be vacated by outgoing Rep. Phil Roe, who is retiring at the end of his term.
Among Riddle’s platforms are Medicaid expansion, support for unions, increased wages for teachers, rural community investment, support for farmers and increased gun safety laws, among other things. And though she is running as a Democrat, she believes many of the things she supports are also supported by Republicans, and that people should look at her platform, rather than the ‘D’ next to her name.
“Whether I’m a Democrat or you’re a Republican, throw that out, who cares?” Riddle said. “There are so many things that I stand for that a Republican over here might stand for. You may not see eye-to-eye on some issues, but the main issue is coming together and working together and creating a better community for everyone, not just who’s a Democrat and who’s a Republican.”
As she announced her candidacy in the farmer’s market pavilion, attendees of the march applauded and cheered, even as she broke down while sharing the story of the deaths of her family members. Riddle was also pregnant at the time of their deaths, and broke down as she told the crowd about how their children were supposed to grow up together -— an opportunity they will never have.
“It fills my heart with joy (to have the crowd’s support), because I wasn’t sure what support I would get with certain things like sensible gun laws,” Riddle said. “I’ve been attacked online for it, but I wanted to make it known that nobody wants to take anybody’s guns, we just want to make it to where people are protected.”
District 4 in the state Senate covers all of Sullivan and Johnson counties, and part of Carter County. The election will be held on Nov. 3. More information on Riddle and her campaign can be found at www.amberriddle.com.
Politics an integral part of Saturday’s march
Nancy Fischman, a former Democratic candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives in District 7, saw Saturday’s march -— and those before it — as a continuation of a fight she’s been in her entire life.
“I’ve been a proponent of equal rights for everyone since I was a kid marching in the ’60s,” Fischman said. “This is just a continuation of what I’ve believed almost all my life, and I think what’s happening now in regards to women’s rights is pretty despicable and we need to show our strength.”
Fischman wasn’t alone in calling for change in government, as hundreds of marchers carried politically charged signs with sayings like “it’s not a witch-hunt if you’re a witch,” in an apparent reference to how U.S. President Donald Trump has characterized investigations into him and his administration.
And though Women’s Marches across the country have become increasingly political, and increasingly anti-Trump, some women who attended Saturday’s march did so just to show solidarity with fellow women who are fighting for equal representation in every facet of society.
“It’s nice to come out and see unity and realizing that we’re more than just women — we are truly amazing creatures,” said Kai Black, who was attending her first women’s march. “We are amazing beings that God created us to be.”