Following a family tradition of politics, a Brownstown native was sworn in this week as the town council’s Ward 5 representative.
Sally Cate Lawson, 27, said her grandmother, Sally Banks, served several years as the Jackson County coroner, while her mother, Arann Banks, has helped with political campaigns and working polls on election day. Also, her uncle, Jack Gillespie, ran for state representative.
“It has kind of been a thing that has always been around my family,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in doing more and helping out, getting involved. That was a big thing that my grandmother always told me, ‘When you can and you are able, get involved, give back to your community.’”
Her grandmother died in 2006, but several of Lawson’s other family members watched Monday night as she was sworn in and participated in her first meeting.
“It’s really dear to my heart to get to do this because my grandpa (Jerry Banks) came, and he got to see it, and that really means a lot,” Lawson said. “I think since (her grandmother) passed away, he likes seeing me kind of follow in her footsteps. Getting to follow her tradition is just something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Lawson filed her declaration of candidacy after talking to Dustin Steward, who had to resign his council seat because he was moving out of Ward 5.
“I had been presented opportunities a couple different times to go for a political office, and I hadn’t quite done it yet,” she said. “We talked about it a couple more times after that, and he said, ‘If I’m going to resign, I would like for you to fill that seat.’”
After a little more discussion between the two and also talking to Jackson County Clerk Amanda Lowery, Lawson went to the courthouse to file.
The Jackson County Republican Party conducted a caucus Sept. 21, where the town’s precinct committee members voted to have Lawson finish out Steward’s term through the end of this year.
Since no one else had filed for the Ward 5 seat for the Nov. 3 general election, Lawson will run unopposed and then begin a four-year term at the beginning of 2016.
To get up to speed on what the council is working on, Lawson received minutes from recent meetings and talked to President John Nolting. She said that helped her prepare for the first meeting.
“I told (Nolting) I don’t want anything put on hold just because I’m new,” she said. “I’ve done my research. I’ve tried to stay on top of it.”
As she begins her service, Lawson said one issue she would like to work on is bringing businesses to town and helping them thrive.
“Maybe help out with how do we make Brownstown kind of that destination town and utilize opportunities when we have to get people in, to get more foot traffic for those small businesses,” she said.
Lawson’s full-time job is serving as manager of The Jackson County Banner.
In the community, she is a member of the Bicentennial Planning Committee of Jackson County, which is planning events to celebrate the 200th anniversaries of the county and Brownstown. Next year also is the state’s bicentennial.
Also, she will soon begin her fourth year as a volunteer coach of a winter club volleyball team. It will be her second year working with Southern Indiana Intensity, a Seymour-based program started three years ago by Whitney Thoele.
“The goal with the program is to keep an affordable local option for kids to play out-of-season volleyball,” Lawson said. “When I was in school, not everyone did. Most schools now are requiring them to play year-round ball.”
Name: Sally Cate Lawson
Education: Brownstown Central High School (2006); Indiana Wesleyan University (2009, associate degree in marketing and business management)
Occupation: Manager of The Jackson County Banner
Family: Husband, Jacobi Lawson; parents, Dan and Arann Banks; brothers, Tyler Banks, Willis Banks and Mitchell Banks; grandfather, Jerry Banks