Yvonne Lopez Seeks District 4 Commissioner Seat
The conference room at Ark Refuge Ministries has a story to tell.
On the wall is a map of District 4, where the Ark Refuge’s Chief Executive Officer Yvonne Lopez seeks a county commissioner seat in November. At the end of a large table in the center of the room is a framed declaration from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. The declaration honors Lopez and her work on 2019’s “400 Year Journey” project—a three-day event that offered unique insight into the accomplishments, struggles, and history of African-Americans in America.
And at the head of the table sits Lopez herself. Though she’s wearing a mask, it’s not hard to tell that she’s smiling as she lays out her vision for Troup County.
You can see it in her eyes.
And though she is excited to have the opportunity to be both the first female and African-American female county commissioner, she explains that her vision isn’t about her.
It’s about the community she serves.
“I’m here to serve God’s people,” she says. “That’s my purpose, plain and simple.”
An ordained minister, Lopez notes that much of her work has been focused on giving a voice to the voiceless—something she looks to bring to the Troup County Board of Commissioners. Through the Ark Refuge, Lopez maintains constant, everyday contact with the less fortunate in the community and works directly to help guide, provide for, and encourage those who may otherwise feel as if the system has forgotten them.
“They feel like they don’t have anyone,” Lopez says. “But I’m always going to be involved.”
“There’s no retirement in Christ Jesus,” she adds.
Lopez believes that her everyday interactions with the community would give her unique insight as a county commissioner. She notes that not only does she understand and witness the everyday struggles the most disadvantaged face, but that she has excellent relationships with community leaders and elected officials—relationships she’s forged through a lifetime of service work. In addition to serving as Ark Refuge’s Chief Executive Officer, Lopez remains involved with the Racial Trust Building Group in Troup County and has been a board member for the Rotary Club, been through LaGrange 101, and attended the LaGrange Police Academy.
Her service work has allowed her to work closely with LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton and LPD Chief Lou Dekmar, both of whom Lopez deeply respects.
“They genuinely care,” she says, and her meaning is clear: they care about all members of the community, no matter their race or socioeconomic status.
Perhaps this is partly the reason why Lopez likens LaGrange to the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz. For Lopez, LaGrange’s progressive and inclusive policies are working to provide representation to all voices in the community—while the city’s police force works to protect all citizens.
As a county commissioner, Lopez would work to bring LaGrange’s progressive spirit to the Troup County government. It’s an act of service that she says she’s driven to do.
“I’m committed to serving with both hands and feet,” she says, adding that when it comes to helping others, she just can’t sit still. “I have to get my hands dirty.”
Lopez credits her strong sense of service to God and notes that it was her relationship with the Lord that “set [her] straight.” Now Lopez, who has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies, looks to provide all people in the community with the right resources, information, and guidance to also find the right path.
“I want them to know they can do great and be great,” she says, but cautions that simply telling people to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” isn’t enough.
“Some of these people don’t even have boots!” she explains, before expressing her belief that only once the right resources are available to all in the community can those who are disadvantaged make use of equal opportunities. As county commissioner, Lopez would look to continue her lifelong service mission of providing these resources and of providing a voice for those who may otherwise not be recognized under the current system.
“Some people are like diamonds in the ruff,” she explains. “Once you clean them off, buff them, shape, and mold them, they can do great things.”
For Lopez, there are many diamonds in Troup County, and her service work and current county commissioner bid reflect her commitment to bringing out the best for all in the community.
Giving less than 100% to community service is not an option for Lopez, who has one goal for when she meets her Heavenly Father:
“I want to be empty when I go home.”