Cindy Bobbitt was driving a tractor along a rutted road in rural Oklahoma one day in 2004 when part of her seeding equipment broke. She had long been frustrated by the poor condition of local roads and bridges, and this was the final straw. She decided to run for a seat on the Grant County Board of County Commissioners. She faced long odds: At the time, only three of the state’s more than 200 county commissioners were women.
But Bobbitt won and has since made upgrading Oklahoma’s long-neglected infrastructure her top priority. One of her ideas resulted in the creation of an Emergency Transportation and Revolving Fund, which provides interest-free loans for building county roads and bridges. The fund has helped fast-track bridge construction projects across the state.
As a farmer who understands the crucial role of infrastructure, she has worked with landowners and utility companies in her county to complete projects at lower costs. Bobbitt has also advocated for the issue nationally, serving on committees and testifying before the U.S. Senate. “It’s a partnership,” she says. “We need to work together at all levels -- local, state and federal.”