Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver gave her first-ever State of the Town Address live online Monday night.
The public was invited before the event to send questions they wanted the mayor to answer in her address. This was to help the public engage with the Town and “lower some of the barriers to providing input,” according to a Town press release.
It was live-streamed from an empty town board meeting room and not in-person, as it usually is, in order to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Weaver said in an email that it was really strange to give a speech to an empty room.
“Normally, the State of the Town is a celebratory event, in a room full of people from the community, highlighting accomplishments from the past year and looking toward the future,” Weaver said.
The content of her address also deviated from the norm due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It would have been foolhardy to try to get folks to focus on recent accomplishments and what's next when COVID-19 is dominating all of our thoughts and actions,” Weaver said. “I felt a clear need to connect with the community, help bring us together so that we have the highest chance of the best outcome on the other side of this.”
The State of the Town started off with the mayor reassuring everyone that essential town functions are still running and that the staff is working to help the community get through the pandemic and all of its challenges.
Weaver said the community should approach the pandemic with an expedition mentality, which she learned from her wilderness leadership training.
The expedition mindset has three elements that she suggested the community focus on: reducing exposure, making decisions that align with what is best for the health of the group, and remaining flexible and focused.
“Above all, our community must stick together,” she said. “If we do, all of our hardships will be less.”
After talking about the coronavirus, she spoke on the importance of filling out the census and answered questions ranging from topics like how to keep people supplied with food during the pandemic to how school children are being fed.
Weaver said if there was one message she wanted people to take away from her address, it would be a message of unity during this time.
“Take care of each other and serve our community by staying home and keeping a physical distance from others when you do have to be out,” Weaver said.
The address is available to view on the Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
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