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Q&A: Jenn Weaver reflects on her time as Hillsborough mayor

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Jenn Weaver, the Hillsborough mayor, smiles in front of the Hillsborough Town Hall on Sept. 14, 2023.

Jenn Weaver, who has served as mayor of Hillsborough since 2019, announced in April that she will not be seeking re-election this November. Weaver sat down with The Daily Tar Heel's Caroline Horne to talk about her time in office.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily Tar Heel: Why did you initially decide to run for Town commissioner and eventually for mayor of Hillsborough?

Jenn Weaver: I ran for Town commissioner a decade ago because I was already conditioned by my own upbringing — that being involved in the community at the local level was just part of what a person did.

I was volunteering for one of our advisory boards — and had been for several years — and when a couple of longtime Town commissioners decided not to run again, a handful of people in the community asked if I would be interested in running. When I decided to run for mayor, I was really thinking about all that we had been working on together as a community and as a Town government during my time as a commissioner and even before that.

DTH: In addition to keeping residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and passing North Carolina's first non-discrimination ordinance, what are some of the most significant challenges that you overcame as mayor? 

JW: I think one of the most important things that we've done in my most recent term is getting the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan in terms of process, and then from process to final adoption. 

I should emphasize that it is the Town staff who really did the legwork there with the consultants we hired. Seeing that through as mayor, and as a Town board, was just so important for laying the groundwork for continuing to evolve into the Hillsborough that we aspire to be, going many years into the future.

Hillsborough also has a major affordability challenge, just like all of our neighbors do. We've been talking about affordable housing a lot. In terms of meeting market-rate housing that's in the missing middle, our Comprehensive Sustainability Plan will play a powerful role there. 

I'm also excited about the fact that in our last budget cycle, the Town board made it official that we want to build up a dedicated line of funding for affordable housing to increase the number of units that are equivalent to two cents on the tax rate. That's never happened in Hillsborough before.

We are not going to construct affordable housing ourselves, we don't have the capacity for that, but building up this fund is going to be very important and it is something I think our whole town board is very proud of.

DTH: You announced in April that you will not be seeking re-election as mayor this year. Can you reflect on your decision earlier this year and how you are feeling about it now that elections are approaching? 

JW: It definitely feels like the right decision, both personally and professionally. It just has felt like time for me to make some shifts in my own life. I feel very at peace with it and at the same time, I'm also cognizant that there are things that will be hard to let go of — because I've been so deeply entwined with so many parts of the Town and what we're trying to accomplish.

Letting go and being at peace that it is in other people's hands now is how it should be. Getting new faces and new leadership periodically is really important to a functioning democracy.

DTH: What are some of your final goals and priorities before your term ends in December?

JW: I am really excited about some things we'll be talking about in the coming months, especially later this month during our workshop about a feasibility study that has been done for a new north-to-south greenway. We call it the Ridgewalk trail — and it is something we really want to pursue and commit more resources to.  

We will also be talking about the property around the train station. Hillsborough is getting this new train station, but only a small part of that acreage that the Town owns will be dedicated to the train station itself. That is a really important conversation I'm excited to be a part of.

@CarolineHorne22

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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