you're reading...

Cornelius News

‘First Lady’ Sharon Washam serving a 4th term

Sharon Hobson Washam / Photo by Jason Benavides

Jan. 17. By Dave Yochum. When she was a just a kid on a tobacco and dairy farm in Boonville, Sharon Hobson Washam would ride her father’s donkey at Democratic functions all over North Carolina.

Yes, he brought the family donkey to Democratic events. James “Bobby” Hobson ran for NC Senate around 1964, and he was the campaign manager for several governors.

It’s possible Washam got her affinity for politics then, but she’s a Republican now. Among her favorites: NC Rep. John Bradford and US Sen. Thom Tillis.

Not to mention her husband Woody Washam, the four-term mayor of Cornelius and husband for 23 years.

People person

“I probably love it as much as he does, but truth be known, it can mean long hours and a lot of events, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because of all the people we’ve met.”

Among them are Jimmy and Rosalind Carter, Donald Trump, the Frances of NASCAR fame, Dale Jarrett, Donny Allison and Lake Speed.

Farm life

But, growing up on a large farm, life was very down to earth even though the house she grew up in was 5,000 square feet.

“I was in 4-H; learned to work very hard at an early age,” she says. Chores involved working virtually everywhere on the family farm all the way through high school.

Along the way she was Miss Elkin Valley.

She could have been Miss Congeniality too (but she wasn’t).


Cornelius’ first lady went on to Gardner Webb College and studied business. “I wanted to be a ‘fancy secretary’ and moved to the big city—Winston-Salem,” she says.

But secretarial work was boring she went to work in sales and marketing where she put brains and an outgoing personality to work in fields often dominated by men back in the day.

At Ingersoll-Rand she was in sales and marketing. During her career she sold everything from road paving equipment to modular homes.

Now she manages their rental property. “I’ve had a fun, varied career,” she says.

Political life

But it’s politics she loves most, working closely with her husband on campaigns going back to 2013 when he was first elected to the Cornelius Town Board.

She’s been Woody’s campaign manager ever since, each one ending in a win, although the last race was incredibly close.

Challenger Denis Bilodeau, a sitting town commissioner, lost by five votes and called for a recount.

“If the results had been flipped we would have called for a recount too. We were not surprised,” Washam says, explaining that she and her husband never went negative.

“We are going to be the utmost on civility. We will not be ugly, we will be civil because we live here. We will be out there with these people all the time,” she says.

Including at the grocery store where she is continuously recognized. People frequently ask her “what are you going to do about so and so?”

“If I don’t know I will find out and get back to them,” she says.

The wife of the mayor is a busy job.

“I like to think that Woody and I are a good team together,” she says.

Sharon Hobson Washam

First car: MGB convertible

Favorite politicians from the past: John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan

Favorite stores: Chico’s and Coco Couture

Best friend: Donna Hobson Willingham, her sister

Every Wednesday: Visits her mom, Ethel, 101, at the family farm with Donna