Rep. William Lamberth, who represents parts of Hendersonville and Gallatin in the state legislature, was handily elected House Majority Leader on Nov. 20 by members of the Republican caucus.
The Portland native who won a fourth term Nov. 6 representing House District 44, secured more than half of his colleagues votes in a three-way race against Jerry Sexton of Bean Station and Ryan Williams, who represents Cookeville. Lamberth won 43 out of 73 votes.
“To get 43 votes in a three-man race… I was very humbled,” said Lambeth, a former assistant district attorney who also represents the cities of Portland and Westmoreland.
As House Majority Leader, Lamberth will be responsible for working closely with newly elected Gov. Bill Lee by helping to shape and guide the governor’s legislative package through the House.
Lamberth says the leadership position means good things for Sumner County.
“It only strengthens our voice in the conversation,” he said. “It just elevates our voice statewide. I’m very much looking forward to helping form legislation with Gov. Lee and his team that will be beneficial to Tennessee – and to Sumner County.”
Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile of Gallatin agrees.
“William and I were both elected at the same time and share a district,” said Haile, who represents the 18th Senate district. “I congratulate him on his election as Majority Leader in the House of Representatives and believe it will be a great benefit to our communities and the people of Tennessee.”
Haile said the position carries “much responsibility” and he’s confident Lamberth will do an “outstanding job.”
Former State Rep. Debra Maggart represented the 45th House district from 2004-2012 and served as Republican Caucus Chair.
“It really is a big deal and I’m happy for [Lamberth],” said Maggart. “It’s a good thing for the entire county.
Maggart says the job can be a tough one too.
“It’s a tough job because not everybody is going to like everything the governor proposes,” she added. “Just because everyone is in the same party doesn’t mean they are all going to go along. There’s going to be days when he’s going to have to make a tough call.”
Lamberth, a 1996 graduate of Portland High School who attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and then the College of William and Mary’s Law School, assures he’s up for the task.
He says he’ll be busy familiarizing himself with the governor’s agenda and legislation as well as continuing to address issues on behalf of his constituents.
Some of the issues he expects to be addressed when lawmakers return in January include economic development, education and criminal justice reform.
“We haven’t reformed our criminal justice system in 30 years,” said Lamberth who recently chaired the legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee. “We need a top to bottom re-write of the system.”
Lamberth says he wants to look at the entire system of who is being incarcerated for what crimes and for how long.
“I want us to look at things like are we using every other tool we have to make sure we have restorative justice programs,” he added. “It’s not enough to lock them up and hope they’ll do good when they get out. We need to make sure they don’t re-offend.”