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Chamber welcomes women commissioners

Xavier Smith • Mar 7, 2017 at 5:48 PM

The leading women voices in Wilson County government detailed their roles, trials and joys of their position Tuesday in celebration of International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

The Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee welcomed six of the eight women members of the Wilson County Commission, which is the most on the commission in history.

Self-dubbed the “women’s caucus,” the group consists of: District 20 Commissioner Annette Stafford; District 24 Commissioner Joy Bishop; District 23 Commissioner Sue Vanatta; District 13 Commissioner Sonja Robinson; District 16 Commissioner Diane Weathers; District 9 Commissioner Sara Patton; District 21 Commissioner Cindy Brown; and District 1 Commissioner Becky Siever.

“It’s a hard job being a female elected official. A lot of people don’t realize how difficult or how hard it is,” said Stafford, who is approaching 20 years on the commission. “They sometimes look at us as the weaker vessel, which in actuality, we’re a lot stronger and deal with a lot more than they do. We stick together at the end of the day. We are like sisters. We might fight from time to time, but at the end of the day, we bring it back together.”

The group consists of women who are involved in several other aspects of Wilson County. Bishop donated $700,000 to New Leash on Life last year to help build the group’s Joy Clinic to spay and neuter pets.

Robinson works for the Wilson County Road Commission, while Siever serves as principal at Byars Dowdy Elementary School. Vanatta retired as chamber president in 2014.

Patton spoke about how things have changed since her time on the board. She recalled a conversation she received from a male commissioner after her election that consisted of him telling her he believed she should vote for an important upcoming issue.

“I told the individual, ‘I’m sorry, but you must have the wrong number because my daddy and husband don’t tell me how to vote, and you sure are not going to tell me how to vote,’” she said.

“This group might get a bad reputation and say we don’t get along, but we’re really a tight group, even with the men,” Weathers said. “They all have the same mission, which is what is best for the county.”

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