by Mickayla McCann
Karen Howard is running for re-election to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners to continue her fight for a better Chatham for all.
“I am hardworking, interested in the issues that matter to my constituents, and concerned about the future of Chatham County,” Howard said. “This is my home – this is where I raised my children. I can be counted on to hear what people are saying, to listen to views that are different than mine, and to do what is in the best interest of all of us.”
Though born in New York, Howard spent much of her childhood in the Bahamas, where her father served as a member of the Bahamian Parliament. Howard attended Georgetown University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English before going on to law school at the University of Buckingham in England. Howard later practiced corporate litigation in New Jersey for over a decade before settling with her family in Northeast Chatham in 2006.
As a mother of six, Howard first stepped into the political arena after feeling displeased with the way her children’s schools were being funded. She became a member of the Chatham County Board of Education in 2012 and later chaired the board from 2013 to 2014.
“I felt like we were doing good things at the school board level, and I had kids in Chatham County schools, so it felt relevant and important to me,” Howard said. “But I also knew there were things that could be done at the county commission level that could really make a difference in Chatham County schools. I was particularly interested in certain populations that weren’t always well represented in the academic or educational sphere when it came to the kinds of issues that were coming before the board of commissioners. I thought I could have a more positive impact being on the board of commissioners.”
Howard was elected to the Chatham Board of Commissioners in 2014, and currently serves as the chair. She states that her favorite achievement from her tenure in office was completing the Chatham County Comprehensive Plan. This land-use plan is a living document that will help guide the next 25 years of development within the county, taking into account environmental preservation, equity, community protection, and responsible growth.
“It’s become the backbone for the way the county goes about doing its work,” Howard said. “It’s a non-partisan guiding tool to help departments and organizations, and even nonprofits, participate collaboratively to have their goals and their missions aligned in a way that benefits the county as a whole.”
If re-elected, Howard plans to continue to prioritize county growth that preserves the true character of Chatham. She also seeks to address the economic disparities between the eastern and western portions of Chatham, as well as the racial inequality that has produced disparate outcomes in health, education, and justice for people of color in the county.
“I think my voters need to know about my values,” Howard said. “I treat being a commissioner like a fulltime job. I will always put the interests of people above money. I will always put the education of our kids as a priority. I hold the same level of concern about the environment, economic disparity, and race and prejudice as I did when I first ran. I enjoy being a commissioner; I enjoy the work, the challenge, participating in discussion, and helping guide the county in what I think have been good decisions that benefit all of us.”
To learn more about Karen Howard’s campaign, please visit https://www.facebook.com/ChathamTogether2020.