Here’s hoping Ashland is at the forefront of positive changes. We can expect that notion to come to fruition because of the appointment of Bernice Henry to the Ashland Board of City Commissioners.

Henry was chosen by commissioners and sworn in by Boyd County Circuit Judge John Vincent Thursday to replace Pat Steen.

A community engagement coordinator for the Ashland school district, Henry worked with Mayor Steve Gilmore when he was superintendent of the system.

“She’s a quality person,” Gilmore said. “She’s been a leader in everything she’s done. I think she’ll be an outstanding asset to the city and the commission. She’ll do an excellent job.”

Such sentiments were echoed by many social media comments, based on an informal survey of Facebook by The Daily Independent.

Henry has the support of the community and that will help her get the job done. But that’s not why she was chosen for the job. She was chosen because of her leadership skills, her work ethic and her outstanding qualities as a human being.

Henry, 73, brings other assets to the table, too. Chairwoman of the Ashland Human Rights Commission and vice president of the NAACP in Ashland, she is the first black woman to be an Ashland city commissioner.

The lifelong Boyd County resident will give a long-overdue voice to the small but important black community. Her presence on the board will bring a perspective that has been missing since Wendell Banks’ service; Banks was the first and only other African American commissioner.

Although Henry is not the first woman commissioner, her perspective as a woman is valuable asset to a government entity that has often been male-dominated.

“I was very humbled and honored to be asked to serve,” Henry said. “It was not something I sought. I prayed over it. I will do my very best. I have an investment in the city. It’s a great place to live and raise a family.”

Some considered 2019 the year of the woman. Plenty of years have been labeled as such, yet women have continued to struggle to achieve equality in the workplace and elsewhere. This year might be labeled the year of racial equality. If so, we hope that goal is achieved.

We believe the appointment of Henry as an Ashland city commissioner is a hopeful sign, that she will be a success and that Ashland is able and willing to make life better and more fair for everyone.

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