By BROOKE WANSER
Born in Merritt Island, Florida, Rebecca Purington lived in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Iowa while working in the defense industries before settling into Williamson County in 2012.
And here is where she intends to stay. Purington is an avid gardener and said she enjoys the rural nature of the county.
“I absolutely love it,” she said of the county.
After Purington graduated from high school, she was recruited by aerospace company Lockheed Martin to work in a rocket program in Cape Canaveral.
Identified as a high potential employee, Purington attended college under the company’s tuition reimbursement program. She earned a bachelor’s degree in organization studies from Regis University in Denver while working full-time.
After working in the defense, aerospace and intelligence industries, Purington moved to Brentwood in an effort to be closer to her family and father, who was sick with cancer.
But while her husband, a 100 percent combat-disabled Air Force veteran and defense industry executive, and father fought illness, Purington experienced issues in the healthcare system she couldn’t bear to see.
While in the neuro intensive care unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, “I spent hours and hours listening to stories of patients with and without insurance, and that had a profound impact on me,” she said. “I wasn’t aware of the challenges people face when they don’t have healthcare or can’t afford it.”
One of her main focuses is to find a solution for affordable and accessible healthcare for all Tennesseans.
After her father and husband passed, Purington sold her share of the intercom company she founded to take a break from the corporate world.
“I had planned to just volunteer, to garden and cook and enjoy living in Williamson County,” she said. “After 28 years of very intense work, I thought I would just take some time off before starting another small business.”
Purington has no children attending county schools, but she believes in strengthening public education. She thinks it contributes greatly to a successful economy.
“One of the reasons I chose Williamson County was because of the public school system,” she said, and how it influences the thriving business community.
Purington also said her experience working with emergency systems would prove useful in discussion of how to improve school security.
She said her background proves her ability to work on creatively utilizing funds to benefit business owners, students and residents at large.
“I have a track record of developing new concepts and approaches,” she said. “I have been able to achieve great things with people from all political parties in my career serving the defense and aerospace community.”
Though she has always followed national politics, Purington said she has begun to follow local news more closely in recent years, becoming involved with the Williamson County Democrats after her move.
“I believe now that it’s probably more important to pay attention to state and local politics in terms of our ability as citizens to influence our quality of life,” she said.
As the lone Democrat in a crowded race, Purington said her focus is not on divisive labels, but on building coalitions within the state government.
“I’m able to build coalitions and consensus through leadership,” she said. “I will persevere in order to overcome obstacles.”
Occupation: Retired after 28 years in the aerospace, defense, intelligence and technology industries
Education: Bachelor’s degree in organization development from Regis University.
Family: Mother lives in the community
Community involvement: UT/TSU Williamson County Extension Office assisting with horticulture diagnostics program, recent chair of the Williamson County Democratic Party’s Elect committee.
Address: 6536 Hidden Hollow Trail, Brentwood
Visit her website here.