Editor’s note: This is Part I of candidate profiles for Highlands. Part II featuring the remaining candidates will be in next week’s issue.
Highlands residents have a number of candidates to choose from for November's upcoming municipal election as four residents have filed for town commissioner and two have filed for mayor.
Only residents who live within Highlands city limits are able to vote in the election, which will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5. For mayor, residents will be permitted to vote for one candidate, and the candidate with the most votes will win. For commissioner, there are two open seats on the board, so voters will be able to vote for two candidates and the top two vote getters will be appointed to the board.
Highlands Town Commissioners
After more than two decades of service on the Highlands town board, Amy Patterson, 58, has filed in hopes of retaining her seat. Patterson, who has served as a Highlands town commissioner for 22 years, lives in the same house her folks first bought in 1960.
"I love Highlands," Patterson said of her reason for running for office. "I believe I have a balanced view, a deep understanding of who and what Highlands is, past and present, and a responsibility to its now and its future."
After receiving her Bachelor's degree from Duke University, she went on to Ohio State University where she graduated with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). Patterson has worked nearly 30 years as a veterinarian in Highlands.
"I know Highlands and its natural, social, cultural and economic environments," she said. "I know and have contact with many Highlanders from all groups - young, old, local, seasonal, full-time, business owners, employees, retirees."
Patterson is certainly not short on political experience. In addition to tenure on the Highlands town board she has served Macon County in several other capacities. "I served on the Highlands zoning board for two years and served on one of the land use review committees," he said.
Patterson's passion for public service is not the only reason she wants to continue her work on the board. She also has a deep rooted passion for Highlands. When asked what her favorite thing about Highlands was, she couldn't narrow it down.
"For me, that has always been an unanswerable question because it limits how you define Highlands and assign priorities when it is truly the synergistic whole that makes Highlands what we all love," she said. "Highlands is like a living, breathing organism. All the parts necessary, working together, changing through the years - yet remaining this exceptional place."
Highlands is certainly not the same town that it was 22 years ago, and that constant change and improvement is something Patterson wants to continue to change.
"There is always an ebb and flow, a give and a take, a zig and a zag, always some detail of the moment that we need to work on, some vision for the future we need to plan for," said Patterson. "There are some things I would like to see different or better, but nothing I would single out for change and thereby inflate it to an artificial status of importance by naming."
Native Highlander Michael Rogers, 50, hopes to expand his public service to the Highlands town board. Rogers and his wife, Tina, have two daughters, Maggie and Courtney.
"I feel that what has made Highlands so unique and special is being lost," said Rogers of his reason for running. "I feel there is no vision for Highlands and that what is happening is not good for our community as a whole and I want to see some changes."
Living and working in Highlands his entire life, Rogers believes his life experience will benefit him in his role as commissioner.
"My education experience is life," said Rogers. "Sometimes the school of hard knocks. Being in business for oneself is an education alone. I feel I have common sense and a working knowledge of this town and its people."
In addition to being a business owner, Rogers has served Highlands on various boards. "I have been on several boards," he said. "I am presently on the Zoning Board and have also served on the Appearance Board."
Rogers' favorite thing about Highlands is the natural surroundings. "I love that we are a rain forest; I love our eco-system here and want to make sure that is protected to its fullest," he said. "I love these old mountains and the flora and fauna that make us Highlands."
With a love for the area and experience in how Highlands has changed over the years, Rogers hopes to bring a common sense mentality to the board, something he believes has been lost.
"I would like to see some common sense put back into play and to look out for everyone regardless of their economic status," he said.