Pembroke Mayor Pro Tem Tiffany Zeigler announced she’s running for the city’s top elected post during a campaign kickoff Thursday afternoon in Pembroke.
In prepared remarks Zeigler, a Pembroke native who has served on city council for 16 years and in a variety of other roles within the city, touted both her deep roots and government experience while saying change is inevitable in the county seat.
With Hyundai’s Metaplant America set to begin production just down Highway 280 in Black Creek as early as January 2025, officials expect Pembroke to beginning experiencing the sort of growth that has impacted other cities in the area, from Richmond Hill in South Bryan to Pooler and Rincon, and to nearby Bulloch County.
“As we begin to embrace the growth and change that is coming to our community, it doesn’t mean that we have to lose our sense of place or lose the history of this beautiful city,” Zeigler said. “It doesn’t mean that we will lose the heart and soul of who we are as a community. We must embrace the mindset through this that people and place matter. I am confident that under the right leadership, Pembroke can continue to be an amazing place to live, work and play.”
Zeigler, chief operating officer and human resources officer for Owens Supply, is the daughter of Marcia Owens McCoy and the late Terry A. McCoy of Pembroke. Her grandfather is the late Harry Owens, the founder of Owens Supply, who served as mayor of Pembroke from 1971 to 1977, and the late Elvie Owens, the city’s first female council member.
She said Thursday her goal as mayor will be to work with others to preserve the city’s “small town sense of life, our sense of place,” while touting her experience in local government and connections in the state.
“For the past 16 years as a councilmember, mayor pro tem, Downtown Development Authority chair, and Housing Team chair, I have worked behind the scenes day in and day out and have enacted change within our community,” she said. “I have advocated for Pembroke on both the local and state level and have built relationships with many state and federal agencies. Just this past week at the Georgia Municipal Association 90th Annual Convention, I had the opportunity to work hand in hand with mayors, council members, state agencies, Georgia Municipal Association staff, and Carl Vinson Institute of Government staff on issues that face all 537 cities here in our great state.”
Zeigler, long involved in the city's efforts through the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing, to provide affordable housing, said her participation in a GMA housing solutions course with 50 elected officials from cities of large and small can help Pembroke find answers to its own housing questions.
“No matter what city you are from in Georgia or what state you are from in the United States, there is a housing crisis going on and we have to work together to find a solution,” Zeigler said. “Our city has to come together, pulling ideas and resources that will help us in the most effective manner. We can learn from the successes and failures of other municipalities to help guide Pembroke forward.”
Zeigler said she’s committed to helping all of the city’s residents succeed, adding “we must uplift everyone and help all individuals thrive and not leave anyone behind.”
A working mother with four children – her husband, Mark, is general manager at Owens Supply – Tyler, 19, Madelyn, 15, Lilly 11, and Jeremiah, 7, Zeigler said she’s shown over her time in office that she’s dedicated to Pembroke, and that having a family won’t interfere with her work for the city.
“What being a mom does, however, is give me a passion to help see my city thrive so that the children of this community, just like my own, can grow and develop in environments that are safe and foster love and inclusion,” Zeigler said. “Ensuring that my city thrives for these children and youth is important, but it’s also critical that our elected officials and mayor spend time in the development of these children and youth.”
Zeigler noted her background in Georgia 4-H as both a student and volunteer as well as her involvement in the school system as a PTO president and on the Career, Technical and Agricultural Education advisory committee at BCHS.
She said the city will launch a “Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem Reading Club” at BCES in the fall to promote childhood literacy.
“Our family is actively involved in the Bryan County 4-H Program, school shooting sports program, and church activities,” she said.
Zeigler said she wants to help ensure children who graduate from local high schools “have a place to call home after their schooling, a place they can afford to live, a place they can find a job, a place they can raise their families if they choose to do so, and a place where they can be positive influences on our community.”
She said her 19-year-old son recently graduated BCHS and started working for Gulfstream this summer.
“As a new workforce hire, our city and county offers no available options for younger people like our son,” Zeigler said. “At the same time, housing options for families and other household types are limited. We need diverse quality housing options and access for everyone. We need to be open to ideas and different modes of creativity, understanding the true needs of our community.”
She also spoke the need to diversify the tax base and the need to support local business.
“Small business and industry is the heartbeat of every community and is the bread and butter of our economy. Local cities cannot sustain on rooftops alone. There must be a diversity of tax provided through business and industry to support the quality of life that the citizens of Pembroke deserve,” Zeigler said. “Supporting local businesses keeps the cycle of money within the community as it is reinvested locally. The businesses of Bryan County also play a significant role in supporting local charities, activities, and events. Small business alone with managed industrial growth provides citizens, not only with job opportunities but helps develop a community that supports family structure.”
She said there will be challenges ahead as Pembroke deals with the growth headed its way.
"There are going to be some tough decisions that must be made to ensure that the future of Pembroke embraces inevitable growth while maintaining our small hometown atmosphere,” Zeigler said. “With my experience in business management, chairmanship of the Downtown Development Authority, and 16 years of service on City Council, I believe I have cultivated the tools, resources, relationships, and understanding necessary to move our city forward.”
“I have a long history of advocating for the best interests of our town. This includes working to secure an equitable share of wider government funding and fighting for more resources and securing grants to meet the needs of Pembroke,” Zeigler said, wrapping up her remarks. “I ask that you join and endorse my campaign. We have a big fight to win, and I look forward to becoming your mayor.”
Qualifying for the Nov. 7 election is Aug. 21-25. Zeigler is the first candidate to announce to the Bryan County News for the 2023 municipal elections. She is bidding to replace five-term mayor Judy Cook, who said in 2022 she will not seek another term.
Editor's note: Individuals who want to announce their candidacies to the Bryan County News are welcome to contact editor Jeff Whitten at email@example.com.