All-women commissioner board in Monroe County is the first in Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – For the first time in Indiana’s history, a board of county commissioners is made up of all women.

It happened this year in Monroe County, where Lee Jones won a commissioner seat back in November, putting her on the Monroe County Board of Commissioners with Amanda Barge and Julie Thomas.

Leaders with the Indiana Association of County Commissioners said their records showed no Indiana community had three women elected as commissioners who all served together at the same time.

“It’s really an honor to be a part of this team,” said Thomas, who was appointed the president by the other two commissioners.

During their meeting Wednesday morning, the commissioners honored and recognized the four women who had served previously.

They included Charlotte Zietlow, who was the first woman elected in the county. She won two terms, starting her first in 1981.

Zietlow, 84, said she had one goal when she started. “To not mess up badly,” she said. “So, other women wouldn’t be tainted with my mistakes.”

Joyce Poling is the only female Republican commissioner ever elected in the county.

They’re joined by Mary Forester Kinzer, who has passed away, and Iris Kiesling.

The three serving commissioners took photos with their former peers, but it’s not the first time they’ve all met.

“They’re very available and helpful to me,” Barge said. “I don’t think I could do the job without knowing the history of what goes into some of the policies that we are working on. It’s still important to go back and remember where we came from as women.”

The group said they are always there to help each other when they need answers, and don’t let political affiliations get in the way of serving.

Each one hopes the history made in their community will help get more women to run for office.

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