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Tabb relates her political journey to women at Shepherd

March 22, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - She's worked at farming, raised four children and now she's a politician.

But it was not planned that way.

Jefferson County Commission member Jane Tabb told a group of Shepherd University students Monday that public office never entered her mind until an unusual occurrence at the family farm in 1991.

Tabb's husband, Cam Tabb, was raising hay in a field the couple owned next to the former Jefferson County Landfill along Leetown Pike when he noticed that vegetation was not growing in one section of the lot.

The discovery started a long controversy over pollution problems at the landfill.

Cam Tabb was persistent about getting state officials to take notice of the problem, and Jane Tabb eventually started attending Jefferson County Commission meetings to keep up to date on county government issues.

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The state Division of Environmental Protection eventually shut down the landfill, citing a number of regulatory violations.

And Jane Tabb?

She ran for county commission.

"We never know where our life will take us. I never thought I'd be a politician," Tabb said.

Tabb was one in a series of women speakers who have been speaking at Shepherd this month as part of a program organized by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

The speakers have talked about women in leadership, spiritual issues they face and other subjects.

When Jane Tabb went on the county commission in 2001, she was the first woman to do so, "which I think happened a little late for Jefferson County," Tabb said.

Tabb's father-in-law, Lyle C. Tabb, was head of the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee for many years. So when Jane Tabb ran as a Republican for the county commission, some people were "shocked," she said.

But Tabb said party politics never have meant a lot to her. She is one who simply speaks her mind.

"Maybe I'm just too independent," she said.

She offered women in the group some tips for success.

Tabb said one of her daughters is working on her doctorate in agricultural engineering at Purdue University. One day, one of her daughter's teachers commented that women usually have a tough time understanding math, Tabb said.

Tabb said the comment only toughened her daughter's resolve, and she encouraged women in the room to do the same if they are faced with a similar situation.

As far as women in business, dress appropriately, Tabb said.

That means no cleavage showing and no see-through blouses, among other questionable wear, Tabb said.

"Use some common sense," she said.

Tabb also touched on subjects such as population growth in the county and how the county commission tackled issues such as impact fees and gambling.

Over the years, some people have worried about possible effects on the community as a result of slot machines being allowed at Charles Town Races & Slots. Among the concerns is that low-income families will gamble in an attempt to make up for money shortages.

Tabb said the problems have not surfaced like some feared, and she believes it may be due to the fact that many people who play the machines live outside the county.

Therefore, any problems may show up elsewhere, Tabb said.

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