Jenn Weaver, a member of the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners and mayor pro tempore, has been fighting for social justice and equality in Orange County since 2013. Now in her second term, she hopes to continue to make her small, Southern town a safe place for everyone.
“Transportation, affordable housing, climate change, racial equity — those are the things that keep me up at night,” Weaver said.
Weaver grew up in Charlotte before attending Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. After living in Arizona for the better part of a decade, she made her way back to UNC for graduate school.
While in college, Weaver said she never had the intention of becoming involved in local politics. However, growing up with a politically active family and an interest in social justice pushed her to become involved.
“I grew up with a very politically active mother,” Weaver said. “She worked the Harvey Gantt campaigns down in Charlotte for mayor and then for senate. It was part of my family life, but it wasn’t something I specifically aspired to.”
Weaver lived briefly in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham before settling in Hillsborough, a town she fell in love with because of its charm and affordable housing, she said. She then became involved with the Parks and Recreation Board, but when two long-term Hillsborough commissioners decided not to run again, she was asked if she would be interested in running.
Weaver focuses most of her attention on equality, both in housing and now in food accessibility. She currently represents Hillsborough on the Orange County Food Council, which joins together with food industry workers such as farmers, processors and food access advocates to support just and sustainable agriculture.
She said Hillsborough would be working with local businesses such as Joe Van Gogh to contribute to a waste-free environment.
During her time on the board, Weaver said she has seen Hillsborough’s transformation firsthand.
“Hillsborough has really continued to come alive,” Weaver said. “There’s a lot of activity here, a lot of people want to be here. That started certainly before I came on the board, but I’ve definitely seen it increase every year.”
Weaver said Hillsborough has recently had more housing growth and more opportunities to bring people in from out-of-town. One of her favorite projects has been the Riverwalk that stretches about 1.8 miles down the Eno River.
“Riverwalk has been really transformative for the town,” Weaver said. “It’s the place that every type of person wants to come — varying ages, races, abilities — everybody’s out there. It has a really profound effect on the community.”
“I think it’s very classic that whenever you go to a place that you love, you want it to stay the way that it is,” Weaver said. “I think that’s very human.”
Hillsborough's open, outdoor spaces and booming art scene have made the town a destination for visitors and for families who are looking to own a home. However, Weaver said some residents have become uncomfortable with the town's growth.
"What’s great about a small town, especially, is that everyone doesn’t get what they want all the time," she said. "But we’re looking in the same direction so we figure out how to get there together."
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.