Betsy Cochrane an honorable, common-sense politician

Published 9:16 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

I remember visiting with Betsy Cochrane in her Bermuda Run home. She was showing her beautiful orchids, talking about the extensive care and conditions the flowers need to survive. A gardener myself, I was amazed at the loving care given to one plant – and the commitment one must make when growing an orchid. She was gracious and kind – a true southern lady.

While attending a ceremony last week in which a portion of I-40 was dedicated in her honor, speaker after speaker talked about how feisty and tough Betsy Cochrane was.

Our Betsy? Tough? Feisty?

You betcha.

When the Democratic machine that ran things in Raleigh got out of hand, little Betsy Cochrane, a teacher of young children, stood up when others wouldn’t. She called a rotten apple a rotten apple, whether they liked it or not.

She was a woman in a man’s world when she first went to serve Davie County in the N.C. Legislature. She was a Republican in a Democrat’s world.

But she persevered and she was successful.

Because of people like Betsy Cochrane, women – Republican and Democrat – are running for political office in record numbers. Because of people like Betsy Cochrane – Republicans found it easier and easier to be elected in North Carolina.

She was a trailblazer, and as former Gov. James G. Martin put it, she probably has broken more glass ceilings than anyone ever in state politics. The list of “firsts” for Betsy Cochrane is long.

It’s only fitting that a portion of I-40 be named in her honor. She not only deserves the honor, she earned it. Think about how easy it would have been for her to just have walked away after that first term in which fellow legislators tried to ignore her, tried to intimidate her and pretty much tried to run her out of town.

That was their mistake.

Betsy Cochrane was elected to represent her friends and neighbors back home and no political machine was going to stop her. She stood up to the mostly older, more seasoned politicians. They may not have agreed with what she had to say, but they were going to listen to her, just the same.

Heck, some of those legislators may have been some of the same ones who decided that Davie would be skipped for a while during I-40 construction. That will show those Republican hicks, the Raleigh legislators must have thought at the time. While Betsy Cochrane was a Republican, she wasn’t a hick. She was a well educated, well spoken defender of what was right. And she didn’t back down just because she was in the minority. Right is right and it deserves to be defended.

She urges everyone to look at the signs as if they had earned the honor; because if it wasn’t for the people of Davie, Davidson and Rowan counties, she never would have made it to Raleigh.

She urged everyone who sees the signs not to think of her, but to think of public service. Think of things you can do to make things better in your community, without expecting anything in return. Use your brain, have common sense, and stand up for what is right.

– Mike Barnhardt