Growing up with an activist mother in the American South, Merceria Ludgood spent her days making fliers and attending city council meetings. She always knew that her career would lead her to public service -- it was just a question of how.

“I grew up believing that’s what you do, that when a problem arises it’s your civic duty to step in and fashion a solution for your community,” she says.

After law school and a stint in D.C. as a law clerk, Ludgood began serving as county commissioner for Mobile County, Alabama, a post she’s held for about a decade. But settling into her role took some time -- there was a debacle after her election that involved the Supreme Court, the governor of Alabama and Ludgood’s short-term resignation. (We’ll let her explain in the podcast.) Since then, she’s run unopposed.

On this episode, Ludgood talks about her efforts to empower an impoverished area and why working on the local level can be more satisfying for people who are results-oriented.

“I can go home every day feeling like I was able to take a particular action that resulted in a direct benefit to an individual, as opposed to spending weeks or months trying to convince 240 other people that a particular course of action is the way we want to be proceeding,” Ludgood says. “We don’t really have that partisan overlay. While I’m elected in a partisan election, once you begin to govern, there’s really no role for that."

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