Tamara Johnson-Shealey decided to take things into her own hands
Many believe that as one person they cannot be impactful. When asked what made her run for the Georgia state senate, Tamara Johnson-Shealey said, "Watching my industry unfold, that is where my passion came from. But then watching my community, watching things happen in my state, I could not 'not run'." Tamara was going through hard times. When it was suggested to her that she engage in the body politic, that she could make a difference, she said her heart started pounding. She had a visceral reaction like she never had before. She called her sister who told her it was a sign. She knew what she had to do.
Tamara is currently attending Netroots Nation 2015. Netroots Nation is a national conference where thousands of liberal political activists, politicians, writers, and bloggers meet every year to network, teach, learn, and strategize. It is an offshoot of the largest most trafficked liberal website in the country, DailyKOS.
Tamara has been an advocate for licensed beauty salon professionals since 2011 when she founded Georgia Concerned Beauty Professionals. In fact she advocated on behalf of the Georgia Concerned Beauty Professionals where she secured a health and safety alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). She founded Politics Beauty in 2011 and advocated to introduce Senate Bill 64, a bill in the 2013 - 2014 Georgia General Assembly to revise the continuing education standards of licensed beauty professionals.
"I saw the politics behind my industry and how it was destroying my industry," Tamara said. When asked what she meant about the politics of her industry, she said that deregulation was the culprit. She said the manufacturers are intent on cutting out the middle-person. She said YouTube is filled with videos and do-it-yourself options which many times falsely empowers customers to use products in an unsafe manner. Licensed professionals go through the training to ensure the safety of products that are used by the inexperienced. After-all, many beauty products can be very harmful when misused. Unless someone stood up for both the licensed professionals and for those who could inadvertently harm themselves, harmful deregulation would continue.
This politically inexperienced woman engaged. She ran for and ran in the Georgia Senate District 40 Democratic Primary and won . She ran against Republican Fran Millar (R-GA) in the general election. Millar is the Republican politician who complained when DeKalb county reserved a Sunday in October for early voting. He called it a partisan move in an oped he penned in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that said the following.
Now we are to have Sunday voting at South DeKalb Mall just prior to the election. Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist. Galloway also points out the Democratic Party thinks this is a wonderful idea – what a surprise. I’m sure Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are delighted with this blatantly partisan move in DeKalb.
Is it possible church buses will be used to transport people directly to the mall since the poll will open when the mall opens? If this happens, so much for the accepted principle of separation of church and state.
In other words he thought it would give his opponent a better chance of winning. Ultimately Tamara Johnson-Shealey lost the race but won a moral victory. She engaged. She said she will run again. Her example will give many sitting on the sidelines the spine, the belief that they can engage, that they must solve their own problems by engaging directly in the politics that affect them. In other words they most not 'not run'. As politicians see that their constituents refuse to accept the status quo or the good old boy network, survival will dictate that they acquiesce to the will of the people or be challenged and eventually voted out.
Tamara Johnson-Shealey is not deterred. She continues empowering those in the salon, hair styling, and beauty industry through her organization PoliticsBeauty. Not only is she working in Georgia but throughout the entire United States. She is networking at Netroots Nation to bring awareness to this issue and to form alliances to help mitigate this issue.
Tamara's example is an example that should be duplicated throughout this nation. It is not enough to sit back and allow things to happen. Citizens must take control. America is still a representative democracy. The vote is still more powerful than money when exercised. Political involvement should be a requirement for citizenship.