Barbara Zimmerman

Who is Barbara Zimmerman and why is she running for the Madison County Board of Commissioners? Who better to answer than Barbara Zimmerman herself!

I’m a mostly lifelong resident of Madison County except for 10 years teaching in Wilmington, NC. I retired from 25 years as a public schoolteacher in 2015 and returned to my family homestead in the Revere Community. Since then I have been active in community work, including organizing the annual countywide Litter Sweep Contest and serving on the Board of Directors for the Laurel Community Center.

Why am I running for Commissioner?

I was asked by county Democratic leadership if I would consider this challenge. After some thought, I decided I should stop complaining about the current situation and be willing to step up to the plate to work for the changes I see as important. Basically, I think the current Board of Commissioners (BOC) is very much out of balance in terms of gender and geography. Half the population in the county is female, and our voices need to be included when decisions affecting our families, friends, and neighbors are made. Currently there are no women on the BOC and few women on the various commissioner-appointed advisory groups. Madison County women are strong, smart, capable, and hardworking; we deserve a seat at the table.

Geographically, the current BOC all live in the Mars Hill area, a beautiful and beloved part of the county. But we are a large county with three unique small towns and many distinctly defined rural communities. I think the BOC should be more representative of all of these geographic areas. I would think having two BOC voting districts, as is the case with the Board of Education, might be something we as a county should consider in the future.

Generally, I believe we should have more openness and inclusion in Madison County government decision making. All BOC-appointed committees, boards, working groups, etc. should be subject to the open meeting statute, allowing county residents to attend meetings and have access to meeting schedules, agendas, and minutes. Attendance at recent Planning Board meetings demonstrates that the public highly desires to have input in decision making, especially for those decisions that could engender very negative long-term consequences.

Issues of great importance for Madison County include how we are going to manage economic and population growth while preserving the special characteristics that make us the Jewel of the Blue Ridge. Do we want to open the floodgates for developers to build on top of our beautiful ridges, or do we want to protect our watersheds, forests, and wildlife habitat? Do we anticipate clean, green jobs paying a living wage, or do we want to become a rural hub for dirty industries that pollute our air and water? How we decide these questions will determine the quality of life we leave as a legacy for our children and grandchildren. As a lifelong Democrat, I’m ready to step up to the plate and work for the common good of all Madison County residents. May the Jewel long endure!

Barbara Anne Zimmerman

You can contact Barbara Zimmerman by emailing her at bzimmerman1953@gmail.com.