Craig Fitzhugh is a small-town banker, an effective legislator, a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He was born in Brownsville, Tennessee and raised in nearby Ripley, where he lives and works to this day.
EDUCATION AND SERVICE:
Craig graduated from Ripley High School in 1968, where he played varsity baseball, football, and basketball on some of the earliest integrated sports teams. A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the UT College of Law, where in 2010 he was a finalist for its Presidency. He served four years active duty in the Air Force as a Captain in the Judge’s Advocate General (JAG) Corps.
He returned to Ripley to practice law. In 1992, Craig joined the Bank of Ripley, where he currently serves as Chairman and CEO. There he created a bank grant program providing more than $300,000 to supplement classroom resources for local public school teachers.
Craig has represented the people of Tennessee’s 82nd legislative district in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 1994, chosen by his colleagues to serve as House Minority Leader. Craig is a strong advocate for public schools, improved health care especially in rural areas, and economic development throughout the state.
Craig has been married for over 40 years. Pam Fitzhugh is a Lauderdale County native who also attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Pam is a retired consultant for D/deaf and hard of hearing children with the Lauderdale County School System. She previously worked in this capacity for the Dyer County School System.
Pam and Craig have two married children: Elizabeth Molder is a former first grade teacher and her husband Chaz Molder is an attorney in private practice in Columbia; Tom lives in Memphis and works at the Bank of Ripley/Bank of Tipton and his wife, Windy, is a pediatric nurse practitioner at St. Jude. They have four grandchildren: Marley, Hugh, BeBe and Ollie.
Fitzhugh has long been active in the community serving on various boards including the Tina Turner Family Center, the Heart Fund, Cancer Society, Professional Counseling Service, Lauderdale County Chamber of Commerce, Ripley Downtown Development Corporation, Union University, Douglas Henry State Museum Commission, Tennessee College of Applied Technology and other service organizations.
- He received the 2011 Good Guy Award from the Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee.
- He is a 27-year life sponsor of Ducks Unlimited.
- An Eagle Scout, he has been an assistant scoutmaster since 1981.
- He has served as the first chairman of the Ripley and Lauderdale County 3-Star Committee.
- He has coached Dixie Girls Softball and Dixie Boys Baseball teams.
- He has served as president of the Lauderdale County Chamber of Commerce and the Ripley Rotary Club.
- He was named Jaycees’ Outstanding Young Man, FOP Man of the Year, and Junior Auxiliary Person of the Year.
- He is active in the Tennessee Banker’s Association, and served as Chairman.
- He currently serves on the Board of Launch Tennessee.
Craig is a fourth generation member of First Baptist Church, Ripley. He serves there as a Deacon and Chairman of the Trustees.
- Rising Costs of Tuition:
Fitz and his wife Pam were the first in our families to graduate from college — and times have changed. If the costs were where they are now, he wouldn’t be where I am today. Too many are held back by the unaffordability of college education, and as governor, Fitz will be committed to lowering the costs of our state colleges for every Tennessean.
- Equal Access:
Strengthening our local public schools has always been Craig’s #1 priority. We need to graduate students ready to learn in college or ready to earn in the workplace. We need to focus our public school dollars on what works, like pre-k that gives every child a strong start; high schools reengineered around science, technology, engineering and math; and making sure those who go on to our excellent public technical schools and colleges graduate without the burden of debt.
Every child deserves equal access to quality education. But that can’t happen if our schools don’t have the resources they need in place to help our children build futures. As governor, Fitz will make sure Tennessee schools remain funded, teachers are treated with the respect they deserve — and allow them to get back to what they do best: educating.
- Farm to School:
Our future begins with education, and we need to focus on giving every child in Tennessee a strong start. This includes increasing access to local food sourcing, school gardens and agriculture education to provide life-long health, and wellness for children and families across the state. As governor, Fitz will make this his priority.
- Connecting Farmers to New Markets:
Broadband and highways are the arteries of our economy — and rural Tennessee has been left behind. That’s why as governor, Fitz will work to invest in both, to give all rural Tennessee businesses and farmers access to new markets so our state can grow and create new jobs.
- Transparency / Simplicity:
In order to make Tennessee healthier, we need to embrace transparency in food production. By working together with farmers, we can set sustainability goals and real working accountability to create high quality foods, from farm, to mouths across the state.
- Rural Communities:
There are 294,000 Tennesseans who would be eligible for healthcare if our state expanded access to affordable healthcare. And for many folks in rural Tennessee, the back of an ambulance and the ER is the only primary care provider when their local hospitals close. Our state can do so much better.
Too many of our veterans return home to find long lines and wait times for the medical care they need. Instead of further destabilizing our entire health care system, the Senate should make sure that every Tennessean has access to coverage, and that our veterans receive the care they need, when they need it.
Our treasured farmers who feed America are often the most at risk for serious health issues. If Graham-Cassidy is passed, this could create a domino effect, starting with the people who keep not only Tennessee going, but the entire country. As governor, Fitz will do everything he can to make sure Medicaid is expanded and farmers are taken care of.
- Medicaid Expansion:
When our governor failed to expand Medicaid coverage to cover more Tennessee families, our state lost out on $3.5 billion. It’s past time for the Senate to keep a path open for Tennessee’s next governor to ensure our families have access to life-saving care, and bring our tax dollars back.
Helping families and businesses thrive means making sure every Tennessean has access to quality healthcare they can afford, and that when the federal government offers to help pay for it for our most vulnerable citizens, we take them up on the offer rather
than letting hundreds of millions of dollars go to other states. Craig will fight for Tennessee’s fair share as soon as he’s sworn in.
- Minimum Wage:
No one should have to work multiple jobs and not be able to take care of their families. It’s just not right. We need an economy that works for all Tennesseans, not just those in skyscrapers. As governor, Fitz will fight for fair wages for folks across Tennessee and an economy that works for all.
- Wealth Gap:
Investing in potential pays off for the entire community. Regardless of where you start out in life, everyone should have an equal chance at success. It’s just common sense. That’s why Fitz plans on creating a tax-free childhood savings account that will grow over time. So every kid has a nest egg waiting when they get to adulthood, no matter their circumstance.
As the opioid epidemic grips our state, it’s destroying lives and tearing families apart. That’s why it’s critical that our first-responders have the resources they need to combat this issue. As governor, Fitz will do everything in his power to fight this crisis and lead Tennessee to a better, healthier future.
- Healthcare Impacts:
Between 2010-2015, opioid abuse claimed the lives of 6,039 Tennesseans — and as a public servant and citizen, protecting the community is Fitz’s top priority. If we’re going to deal with this epidemic, we need real solutions. By expanding and funding Medicaid, we can help battle this crisis and make sure Tennesseans have access to substance abuse treatment and protect the critical services that aim to help those in need.
- Broadband and highways are the arteries of our economy and rural Tennessee has been left behind – that’s why Craig will invest in both to give all Tennessee businesses and farmers access to wider markets, so they can grow and create new jobs.