Jenn Weaver has been Hillsborough’s mayor since 2019. More than half her time in service has been spent navigating an unforeseen and unpredictable pandemic with a town in tow, all while remaining stoic, supportive, sensitive, and smart.
Despite this, she’s ready for more. Of the being mayor part, that is. In early July, Mayor Weaver said she will file the paperwork to run for re-election as Mayor of Hillsborough. Though she is proud of her efforts and the way the town has handled Covid-19, the decision to run again wasn’t cut and dry.
“I will confess that there was a time period of a few weeks back in February this year, where I was so exhausted with pandemic mayoring, that I just felt wiped out by the whole thing,” she said. “I was wondering, you know, did I really want to keep going and do it again? But, you know, life is full of ups and downs, so is public office.”
Weaver said the stresses and worries brought on by the pandemic had become particularly intense over people’s lives and people’s livelihoods. Not knowing what was going to happen had become more difficult to face with optimism.
“But certainly, as things improved with the pandemic and we started seeing a light at the end of what was a very dark tunnel, my attitude changed,” she said. “Part of the desire to run again certainly has to do with we’re getting to the other side of this really traumatic global event. We have the opportunity to focus more on some of the quote unquote ‘regular Mayor stuff,’ as a town and as a community.”
Weaver ran unopposed in 2019, and replaced longtime Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens. She served on the Town of Hillsborough Board of Commissioners for six years prior to running for mayor. Early in her term, Weaver was practically omnipresent, appearing at commissioner meetings, business openings, chamber gatherings, and school functions. When the state mandated that residents should shelter in place, Weaver was a strong advocate for staying home and staying safe. Her in-person appearances halted. She regularly posted Facebook Live videos to provide information, resources, and encouragement through the earlier days of the pandemic.
Even though Covid-19 consumed much of the last two years, Weaver said she does not feel shortchanged in carrying out her mayoral duties. “I really haven’t. I have not felt that way. I feel like this has been one of those times where leaders have to rise to the occasion. While I am sure I haven’t done that perfectly, I do feel proud of how the town has as an organization; how our town board; and how I handled this as a mayor, however imperfectly. I’m in partnership with many other necessary entities, so I think that this is just how life unfolds. It’s unpredictable. Sometimes, terrible things happen and you just deal with them,” Weaver said.
Some of the issues to which Weaver had hoped to devote more time before Covid struck were only crystallized by the pandemic. “The issues that we already knew about that the pandemic laid bare more clearly, and communicating with people providing leadership, and having conversations with folks about some of these issues that really were amplified,” Weaver said. “Over the past year and a half, racial inequity — how the pandemic affected us differently, the affordable housing crisis… I mean the housing need is just off the charts here locally. The need has been tremendous. And there’s a whole other thing of what will happen when the eviction moratorium ends and people are going to still need a lot of help.”
Still near and dear to her, and an effort she’s been advocating for since she first ran for town board in 2013, Weaver hasn’t lost sight of what she sees as the need to talk about policymaking through the lens of environmental sustainability and racial justice.
“As a board, we’ve made steady progress in that direction,” she said. “And I’m certainly not the only one who cares about those issues or talks about those issues. I’ve worked with great people on the board. We’ve got this comprehensive sustainability plan underway (see related story above), and that is just a tremendous initiative for the town that is really going to help shape Hillsborough’s future, as far as environmental sustainability and equity. It feels really important to see that process through.”