Denise Worthington believes local politics should be about community service, not ideology.
Worthington, a Democrat, is taking on incumbent Madison County Commissioner Dave Dhume in the Nov. 4 general election.
Although the late Rita Culp once ran a primary race for the job, Worthington said she’s the first woman to run in a general election. County board of elections records could not verify the claim.
“Local politics are about service to the public without personal gain,” Worthington said.
Service is Worthington’s personal hallmark.
“I’ve always had service-oriented careers,” she said.
The former public school teacher and parole officer isn’t seeking dramatic change, but to give county residents a rare choice in who sits on their board of commissioners.
“All people in Madison County need representation,” she said.
Worthington doesn’t mind being a ground-breaker either. Early in life, she was the only woman parole unit supervisor in the state.
Response to her grassroots campaign has been surprisingly strong — especially from women, she said.
“I am very heartened by the results,” she added. “Lots of women are very excited about my candidacy.”
Simple word of mouth got Worthington 178 certified votes in the May primary. She needed only 50 to get her name on the November ballot.
She expects to continue a low-key campaign throughout the fall, relying on her activist reputation with the county historical society, London library board and H.E.L.P. House to earn votes. She also plans to knock on doors and get to know many local voters face-to-face.
Anyone interested in volunteering should contact campaign manager Barb Niemeyer at bn@Columbus.rr.com.
Raised in a stalwart Republican family, Worthington switched party affiliations while in college. She holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
She considers herself a fiscal conservative, but not a social conservative.
Worthington would like to see more transparency and teamwork in county government, with greater input from auditor Jennifer Hunter and engineer Dave Brand.
“They (commissioners) don’t value Brand and Hunter enough or work with them,” Worthington said.
A recent survey to amend the county land-use plan went to 800 households and garnered only 259 responses. That’s not nearly enough to gauge opinion in a county of 44,000 people, Worthington asserted.
Homelessness and the epidemic of opiate drug abuse are two additional local issues that concern Worthington.
Married for six years to area native Ron Roach, Worthington shares philosophies of courage, honor and commitment with her husband.
“I have the courage to stand up and say ‘why,’” she said.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.