Running a political marathon

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Eighteen year old Ashley Penhale is running. No, she’s not jogging for her health, or running for the fun of it, she’s running her first political campaign.

And a marathon it has been.

It is not her own campaign she is working so hard to win, but her grandfather’s, Helena Mayor Sonny Penhale’s campaign that she has devoted so much time, energy and effort to seeing through.

Ashley has precociously recruited volunteers, organized campaign strategies, served as an event planner, a webmaster, a graphic designer, voter registrar and still managed to manage (so to speak), the campaign headquarters for her incumbent Mayor-Grandfather.

She has learned many life lessons from the campaign that will help her in her quest to receive a Political Science Degree from Troy State University in 2006.

Ashley is presently a sophomore at Troy State University and is a member of Chi Omega Social Fraternity. Being a campaign manager at such a young age, one would expect her to be social and outgoing, but she’s obviously extremely bright too.

Ashley maintains a 4.0 grade point average and received the Chancellor’s Scholarship, was part of the Freshman Forum of the SGA, and is a member of the Dean’s List, University Honors Program, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and more.

So how does she find time to run a campaign? She’s used to an active lifestyle as part of TSU’s Campus Outreach program and her involvement with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, serving as a board member for the University Activity Council, a Troy Housing Authority volunteer and that’s just to name a few of her extracurricular activities. It makes me tired just writing about all that she does.

Ashley was a Salutatorian of Thompson High School’s graduating class of 2003. She also graduated from Shelby County Youth Leadership, was the school leader for Habitat for Humanity, Key Club Charter President and the yearbook editor-in-chief. She is the daughter of Debbie Penhale of Alabaster and Donnie Penhale of Helena.

It is refreshing to see a young person so involved in our community:

meeting people, influencing lives, fulfilling civic duties of someone twice her age, encouraging and promoting democracy.

I would say Mayor Sonny Penhale is fortunate and blessed to be able to keep it all in the family by calling on his bright and talented granddaughter to run his campaign. With all her energy, skills and abilities, I’m thinking about getting her to run mine.

Beth Chapman serves as State Auditor for the state of Alabama. She and her family live in North Shelby County. She can be reached at