Press release from Amanda Edwards’ campaign:
On Monday, 12 February at 12 noon, candidate filing for the 2018 General Election will begin in Buncombe County. Inspired by trailblazing local politician Lillian Exum Clement “to start a thing,” first-time candidate Amanda Edwards, who will file for Buncombe County Commission (District 2), decided to invite all announced women candidates for state and local office to join her at the Board of Elections to “Lead Like Lillian” and file for office together.
Clement ran for office in 1920—getting on the ballot before women were legally allowed to vote, winning her primary and general elections, and becoming the first woman to serve in the North Carolina legislature or any legislature in the South. Clement is quoted as saying “…I want to blaze a trail for other women. I know that years from now there will be many other women in politics, but you have to start a thing.”
Lead Like Lillian is bipartisan gesture of civic solidarity for which both Democratic and Republican candidates alike have expressed support. It will begin with a gathering of candidates and supporters at 11:30 a.m. Dignitaries attending include Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer and Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler, who lead the first female-majority elected body in Buncombe County history. The local League of Women Voters has publicized the event in their online newsletter and other nonpartisan groups are sharing news with their networks.
Historical Background on Lillian Exum Clement:
Legislator and attorney Lillian Exum Clement was born in 1886 near Black Mountain. She passed the state bar exam in 1916 and began practicing law in Asheville in 1917. She was the first woman to open a law practice in North Carolina. Clement was a Buncombe County Democratic candidate to the state legislature in the spring of 1920. The 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote throughout the United States, was not ratified until August of 1920. Clement won the primary and went on to win her general election in a landslide to become the first female legislator in North Carolina and the South.