Charlotte Zietlow has been active in Monroe County politics for more than 40 years. A Bloomington City Council president, as well as a member of the Monroe County Commissioners from 1981 to 1988, she resigned to become executive director of the Monroe County United Way. After two successful years there, a disagreement between her and the United Way board led to her abrupt resignation in the spring of 1990. She then became the chair of the Sanger endowment fund at Planned Parenthood of Southern Indiana. Her pro-choice work earned her many enemies; in 1992 a person or persons unknown inserted flyers into the Herald Times listing her personal address and phone number next to pictures of aborted fetuses, and in 1994 local pastor Timothy Bayly was given a restraining order to stay away from Ms. Zietlow after allegedly harrassing her at the Bloomington Farmer's Market. She remains involved in local government and the Bloomington community to this day, and is currently serving on the Public Works Board.
In 1980 and 1996 she ran and lost in the Democratic primary for mayor of Bloomington. She was also a candidate for election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, losing to incumbent Republican John T. Myers.