Updated: An earlier version of this story stated that Patty Burns is the first African-American woman elected to city office in Hillsboro She is the first African-American woman elected to city-wide office. Peggy McClellan, an African-American woman, was elected to city council as a ward council member several years ago.
Patty Burns was sworn in Thursday as the new Hillsboro city treasurer, the first African-American woman elected to city-wide office in Hillsboro, according to several local officials.
Burns took the oath of office from Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David McKenna, who also administered the oath to two new Democratic Party city council members, Mary Stanforth and Brandon Leeth.
McKenna himself was sworn into office a few minutes earlier by Highland County Common Pleas Judge Rocky Coss at ceremonies held at the municipal courtroom.
The gallery at the courtroom was crowded with family members and well-wishers of those who were sworn in.
Burns fills the seat being vacated by longtime treasurer Bob Storer, who was on hand. She defeated Republican candidate Amy Robinson by three votes in November.
After the ceremony, Burns told The Times-Gazette she was honored to be elected, and felt a responsibility as a role model to the local African-American community, even though her first thoughts were not in that regard when she entered the race.
“I wasn’t even looking at it like that,” she said with smile. “You know, I’m just a well-known person in this community. I love my community. I had never considered running for anything.”
Burns is associate pastor of the Cornerstone Assembly of God church. She worked as a bookkeeper and board member at Samaritan Outreach for 11 years, and was the front store manager at the Mac Printing Company, where she also did bookkeeping.
Before the election, Burns said in a candidate profile, “I went ahead and said, ‘I’m going to pursue this.’ I don’t believe I will have a problem doing it or working with anybody. I love working with people, and I’ve worked with the public for years. Whatever needs to be done for the betterment of the community is pretty much where my heart is.”
Burns is the granddaughter of Roxie Clemons, who was one of the “marching mothers” who fought to integrate Hillsboro elementary schools in the 1950s. Burns’ husband, Lonnie Burns, was a youth sports coach for many years before his death in 2009.
Peggy McClellan, an African-American woman who passed away in 2015, was elected several years ago to Hillsboro City Council as a ward representative. Several African-American men have been elected to council through the years, but Burns is the first African-American woman elected to city-wide office, to the best recollection of several local officials, including former Mayor Betty Bishop, who said Thursday she could not recall another African-American woman elected here aside from McClellan.
Dinah Phillips, chair of the local Democratic Party, congratulated the winners and spoke about the success of the party in recruiting competitive candidates in this year’s elections.
Republican council members Justin Harsha and Adam Wilkin, along with council president Lee Koogler, were administered the oath of office recently by Highland County Probate and Juvenile Judge Kevin Greer, while Republican council members Ann Morris, Claudia Klein and Wendy Culbreath were administered the oath recently by Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @AbernathyGary.
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