Kurita takes on obesity as health policy adviser

Staff - mysanantonio.com - 03/05/2012
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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former state senator Rosalind Kurita has taken a new policy role at the state Department of Health and is drawing on her nursing background to help fight obesity in Tennessee.

Kurita, who once served as a Democratic state senator for Clarksville, told The Leaf-Chronicle (http://leafne.ws/yyD0Ya ) that she accepted the new position as health policy adviser with the state in December. Her salary is $6,500 a month, according to Health Department spokeswoman Shelley Walker.

"This is a wonderful job," Kurita said. "This is such an opportunity to make a genuine difference in people's lives."

Kurita was ousted after state Democrats vacated her 19-vote win in a 2008 Democratic primary race after she aligned with Republicans to elect Ron Ramsey as Senate speaker in 2007.

She is already making changes within the department to encourage workplace fitness, including reopening a small exercise room and putting mile markers in the hallways to encourage employees to walk a few laps around the building.

"Those are all things that any workplace could do to provide help in preventing obesity," she said.

Kurita, who was a nurse before she entered politics, said health and wellness issues have always been her focus as a public official. Commissioner John J. Dreyzehner said her experience in state government makes her an ideal leader in the fight against obesity.

"(Kurita) is doing great work by helping us lead health improvement within our own agency and thus walk the walk that we are encouraging others to take," Dreyzehner said in a statement.

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