Highland Park community organizer Khristy Wilkinson announced Friday that she will run as a Democratic candidate for the state's 10th District Senate seat.
"I want to give a voice to people who have not been heard, whose communities have been displaced in the current political climate," Wilkinson said.
She is the second Democrat — and the second Wilkinson — to announce a campaign for the 10th District seat in two days. The deputy administrator for Chattanooga's economic development department, Nick Wilkinson, announced his candidacy Thursday.
Khristy and Nick Wilkinson are not related.
Republican Todd Gardenhire now holds the seat.
Wilkinson said she is frustrated with the status quo and seeks to challenge it because it fails to truly represent the disadvantaged.
"I'm not a politician, but I believe our current representatives do not represent the vast majority of the people they are supposed to represent," she said.
As a Detroit native who was born in poverty and left the city at the height of its recession-driven suffering in 2009, Wilkinson said she understands firsthand what it's like to be disadvantaged. She said she considers it one of her strengths as a candidate.
"My life experiences differ from any of the other candidates," she said.
She said her frustration with the political system is personal.
"I myself do not believe I'm being represented," Wilkinson said. "How's this going to work?"
Wilkinson, a philosophy professor who serves as vice president of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association, is a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign in the Chattanooga area. The experience has transformed her, she said.
Before that, running for office never seemed like an option, she said.
Her campaign is a good opportunity to address issues as opposed to just engaging in rhetoric, she said. Wilkinson said she sees the Democratic primary for the 10th District Senate seat as a way to engage in a conversation.
"People are being disadvantaged by a system that is supposed to empower them, but the people in power are doing nothing to change that," she said.
Early voting begins July 15 for the Aug. 4 primary election.
Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or firstname.lastname@example.org.