Jenn Weaver first ran for the Town of Hillsborough Board of Commissioners in 2013. Now, Weaver, who grew up in Charlotte, is in her second year as Hillsborough’s mayor pro tempore, and she will be running for mayor of the town this November. Current Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens announced his decision not to run for another term last week. Read Weaver’s personal announcement of her candidacy for mayor below:
When I first ran for the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners six years ago, I knew two things for certain: Hillsborough is a great place to raise a family (our kids were 3 and 5 at the time), and local government plays an important role in people’s lives, yet most folks don’t pay much attention to it. Mayor Tom’s decision not to run again after 14 excellent years has garnered a lot of attention. I am asking you to hold that attention through this next municipal election cycle, because it will be important to our future together.
Hillsborough, I want to be your mayor.
Hillsborough is a great place to live. Whether people have been here five minutes or fifty years, they will tell you this. What makes Hillsborough a place people want to put down and keep their roots? The list is long and everybody’s list is a little different, but I think it boils down to the people. In Hillsborough, we are descendants of indigenous people who lived in this area long before colonial settlers arrived; we are the descendants of those settlers; we are descendants of enslaved people; we are the more recently immigrated and thriving Latinx community; we are all sorts of people from all walks of life who one way or another ended up in this unique place.
We find each other walking our neighborhoods, cruising Riverwalk on foot or by bike, going from booth to booth at Fairview Live, and listening and dancing to music at the feet of the historic clock tower on Last Fridays. The people are the magic, and the town provides the bones that enable that magic to happen- maintaining our roads and sidewalks, building Riverwalk and scrubbing the path of mud after every flood, keeping the clock tower ticking. All of these interactions between the many kinds of people who call this place home happen in our public spaces. Having good leadership to protect, nurture, and maintain the infrastructure we have all built together - both physical and metaphorical - is really important.
Our town is in an interesting place right now. In many ways it is thriving. We have a hopping home-grown business community, great places to eat, a burgeoning music scene and a flourishing arts scene that is beautifully out of proportion to our small population.
And yet not every family - in the many ways that word can be defined - is having an easy go of it. We have a high tax burden. We have a water and sewer system that is costly to maintain. The town faces rising costs just to maintain the status quo in an economy that has left the wages of working people flat for many years as the cost of living has risen. People in older neighborhoods are worried about how their blocks are changing. We are experiencing the effects of climate change as increasingly damaging storms leave us with infrastructure repairs on top of regular maintenance. We made a commitment to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuel energy. We need to add important town employee positions that we cannot do without indefinitely. This list presents enormous challenges.
How do we remain resilient in the face of these challenges? This is the important question for the elected leadership in Hillsborough moving forward. Hillsborough’s ability to be a place where everyone, every single body, “all living beings” as our mission statement says, is not dependent on any one person. But the mayor plays a critical role in helping frame how we need to move forward in uncertain times. As Adrienne Maree Brown advises, given all the information we have now, what is the next most elegant step? That’s what I’ll be asking this community in the coming months.
And that community piece is essential. I read an article that described two different ways of looking at local government. Some see it as a vending machine: you put in your money (tax dollars), expect services to be dispensed, and then go on your way. Others see it as a barn raising: every person has a role to play in building this thing together, and it takes trust and good relationships to be sure it’s built properly and the roof doesn’t fall in. I fit in the latter category. In a town this small our capacity can often feel so limiting to what we want to accomplish, but our smallness also lends to agility, creativity, and really knowing each other. When we know each other, we can more effectively raise this barn together.
I believe Hillsborough is headed in the right direction, but we don’t want to leave anyone behind. I am Jenn Weaver, and I’m running for mayor. I look forward to making every effort to earn your vote.