Growing up in Alabama in the 1950s and ’60s, Merceria Ludgood recalls her mother always watching the news and reading about what was happening. “She was definitely an activist,” says Ludgood, “and told me it’s important to make a difference wherever you are.”
That instilled a lifelong love of public service, if not a straight path to public office: After originally wanting to be a social studies teacher, Ludgood went to law school in Washington, D.C., clerked on Capitol Hill and eventually earned a Master of Divinity from the Alabama Interdenominational Seminary. She’d practiced law for several decades when, in 2007, a seat on the Mobile County Commission came open. Ludgood decided to run, and she’s held the position ever since. She’s been on the governing committee for the National Association of Counties and was president of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama in 2014.
There was time when she thought working on the federal level would be something to aspire to. But now, she says “getting anything done at the federal level takes so much effort, and I want to be able to see the results of my work. I really love this level of government.”