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Creative Ledbetter paints new path
Richard Ledbetter Bye 2 fr
Outgoing Forsyth County Commissioner Linda Ledbetter works on a painting at her Ducktown art studio, Paint Soiree. Elected to the board in 2004, she chose not to seek re-election this year. - photo by Emily Saunders

Outgoing Commissioner Linda Ledbetter said her one weakness as a District 5 representative was getting emotionally invested in the business of Forsyth County.

She's got a good reason, though.

"I care so much about this county. It's my home," she said. "If it's bad for the county's future, it's like it's bad for my future too."

She chose not to seek a second term, and Jim Boff will fill her post beginning in January.

Ledbetter grew up in a small west Forsyth community.

"Ducktown is my roots," she said. "Everybody I love is buried here, and what little family I have left lives here."

Her late father, L.T. Ledbetter, founded Ducktown.

Daughter Alisa Stone-Herring agrees that her mother has a hard time "putting personal feelings aside ... but she takes into account the feelings of others. She's very sensitive to the needs of residents."

Ledbetter said she's tried her best to be responsive to constituents during her four years in office.

"Many times when I've listened to them, I've changed my vote according to the will of the people rather than my own will, because I want to try and see their side of the issue," she said.

Of the 50 e-mails she receives each day, Ledbetter said most of them deal with rezonings.

Local attorney Emory Lipscomb said Ledbetter is "an extremely compassionate person when it comes to respecting people's private property rights."

"She will talk to anyone regardless of who it is," Lipscomb said. "Whether it's a single mom or a developer, she takes the time to be sensitive to everyone's concerns and questions."

Prior to running for office, Ledbetter was no stranger to fielding questions. She taught American government at Forsyth County High School for 24 years.

"I'd always wondered what it would be like to not be teaching school and actually be involved with the process," she said.

Ledbetter said she ran for commissioner after residents and friends approached her and said, '"Linda, you can do this. You should run.'"

Stone-Herring said her mother might have run for the commission sooner, but her time was spent juggling a full-time job and taking care of her children.

"She kept having babies every decade," Stone-Herring said. "She didn't have time to be a politician."

Ledbetter has three children: Bart Hammond, 38; Stone-Herring, 27; and William Stone, 21. She also has three grandchildren.

As her commission term draws to a close, she plans to look for another job in the field of education.

"I've got a kid I need to put through law school," she said, adding that she hasn't had a chance to use her doctoral degree in higher education administration.

Ledbetter said that in "another life" she probably could have been in a different occupation.

"I should have been an interior decorator," she said. "With somebody else's money, I could do anything."

Stone-Herring said her mom is a creative type.

"She's always been insanely, ridiculously, embarrassingly creative ... Her house is a combination of seashells and mountain scenes."

Ledbetter has put much of her creative inclination to good use. She runs her own do-it-yourself art business in Cherokee County called Paint Soiree.

She said her search for a job may take her elsewhere in Georgia. But if it does, she hopes to return to Forsyth County.

Ledbetter's last work session with commissioners is slated for 5 p.m. Tuesday. A reception honoring her and fellow outgoing Commissioner David Richard.